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We Need Unions in Peace Movement

The CPUSA Peace Commission held a conference January 8. Texans participated through teleconference.

One of the important developments mentioned is the growing number of union organizations that have taken anti-war stands. According to U.S. Labor Against War (USLAW,, dozens of anti-war resolutions have been passed by union gatherings. Some of the largest and most influential national bodies have called for the United States to withdraw from Iraq. The Communications Workers of America (CWA), at their national convention, passed such a resolution. In Texas, CWA is among the most influential unions statewide and in every local federation. They condemned the policies of President Bush and called for him to support United States troops by, "bringing them home now!" according to USLAW.

Other national union bodies with anti-war resolutions include the Service Employees (SEIU), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Postal Workers (APWU), and the Mail Handlers. State federations opposing the war in Iraq include California, Washington, and Maryland/DC Federations of Labor. The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) joined the Coalition of Labor Union Women and Pride At Work (all allied organizations of the AFL-CIO), in condemning the war and calling for an immediate return of U.S. troops. Over the course of last year, dozens of labor councils, regional labor bodies, local unions and other labor organizations have taken similar action.

The California federation alone contains 1/6 of all AFL-CIO affiliated members in the U.S. It would seem possible that an anti-war resolution might pass in the national AFL-CIO convention this July. Progressive union members across the nation, including here in Texas, would have to begin mobilizing right away for such an historic event to take place.

Unfortunately, the USLAW calendar of upcoming events lists zero for Texas. Progressive Texas unionists have their work cut out for them.

The fact that very little measurable anti-war sentiment has been shown in Texas does not mean that union people support the Iraq war. Union leaders know that their main task is to represent their members in relations with their own employer. They are ordinarily reluctant to take on issues that do not relate to that central function. Nonetheless, there has been anti-war sentiment within America's unions throughout history, and it continues today.

In North Texas, we should start by encouraging union members to join USLAW.

--Jim Lane