US trade unionists against the Iraq war

This video from the USA is called Gene Bruskin Speech, USLAW Cleveland Conference – Part 1.

By Alex Bainbridge in Australia:

Interview: US unionists organise against the war

8 February 2008

During the war against Vietnam, it was not until 1970 that the US union movement took protest action in an organised manner. And even then, it was a pro-war demonstration called by New York’s Building Trades Council in support of President Richard Nixon. However anti-war unions responded to that demonstration — held on May 20 and drawing 50,000 workers (many of them paid to attend) — with a protest of their own. While it only drew half as many people, it was a significant milestone — it was the first time that US unions formally organised an anti-war demonstration.

However, already in the nineteenth century, United States trade unions had anti war, pro peace principles.

May 1970 marked the end of the united front on the war by US unions, which had either remained silent on the issue or vocally supported it. It is in this tradition of anti-war dissent with the political establishment that US Labor Against the War was formed. Kathy Black, a USLAW leader who is conducting a speaking tour of Australia in the lead-up to Palm Sunday protests against the Iraq war, explained how “late in 2002 or early 2003, a handful of progressive labour leaders, old friends and veterans of the anti-Vietnam War campaigns, began talking together about what seemed to be the inevitable march to war and what could be done within the labour movement to stop it”.

Bill Onasch, a Kansas City unionist, noted in an October 2003 ZNet article: “By the time the invasion of Iraq was actually launched on March 20, labor organizations representing almost one-third of all organized workers in the US were on record opposed to the war.”

Black told GLW that the idea of a unionist-based anti-war network “caught fire”. In late October 2003, 154 delegates — representing, according to a ZNet account by Kim Scipes, half a million unionists — met in Chicago for USLAW’s first national assembly. A mission statement adopted at the assembly committed the organisation to “advocate, educate and mobilize in the US labor movement” around the principles of “a just foreign policy”; an end to US occupation of other countries; the redirection of US resources away from military spending towards meeting the “needs of working families”; “Supporting our troops and their families by bringing the troops home now”; “protecting workers’ rights, civil rights, civil liberties and the rights of immigrants”; and building solidarity with workers and unions around the world.

2 thoughts on “US trade unionists against the Iraq war

  1. Think Peace DVD
    Posted by: “pumpkinheadbc2005”
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 4:34 am (PST)

    Where were you on February 15, 2003? New film looks at modern day Peace Movement.

    The Pumpkinhead Production Company in association with DreamHouse Cinema are pleased to announce the release of their documentary DVD, Think Peace: Portrait of a 21st Century Movement. Filmed at the World Peace Forum held in Vancouver, British Columbia from June 23 – 28, 2006 the film examines the make up and direction of the peace movement in the 21st century.

    On February 15th, 2003 the largest protest in human history occurred. Millions of people from all seven continents marched down the street of more than 800 cities to show that they did not support the invasion of Iraq. Yet even at the height of its power the movement was not able to stop the war. What went wrong?

    This and other questions are explored in the film as we talk to such diverse people as Hans Blix, Rex Weyler, and Holly Near, among others. With over 40 citizen journalists participating in the project, over 120 hours of footage were captured and distilled into a 55 minute film by director Corey Ogilvie of DreamHouse Cinema.

    In order to promote the film and celebrate “the other super power” that arose on February 15, 2003 we ask that you join us in celebrating the 5th Anniversary of this amazing event by declaring that February 15th be know internationally as “Think Peace” Day. For more information go to our website at


  2. Pingback: US dockers want May Day anti-war strike | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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