Call to the Third USLAW National Assembly
An International Call to Labor for
World Wide Peace with Economic and Social Justice
in a Time of War and Economic Crisis
- Iraqi Oil Worker Union Leaders
- Pakistani Women, Youth & Labor leaders
- Scholars and Policy Experts on Afghanistan
- Antiwar Trade Unionists from Across the US
- Iraq & Afghan War Veterans
We are at a turning point in US History. In 2008 the labor movement had a moment of triumph, playing a critical role in electing Barack Obama and a majority Democratic Congress. In 2009 we find ourselves still in the middle of a devastating economic crisis with wars and militarism standing between working people and the peaceful just world we seek and deserve.
This is a moment of both peril and promise. USLAW is challenged to develop a program and organizing strategy that will expand and deepen the influence and effectiveness of antiwar forces within the labor movement, while continuing to play a leading role within the broader antiwar movement.
This is the context in which USLAW will convene its third National Assembly in Chicago, December 4-6th.
The Assembly is open to delegates from USLAW affiliates as well as individual associate members. It is the highest decision-making body of USLAW where we debate and adopt resolutions on a range of issues that establish USLAW policy and strategic direction for the next three years. The Assembly will elect the leadership that will guide the organization, and has the authority to make changes in the By-Laws that govern USLAW.
In October 2003 at the historic founding Assembly of USLAW, the delegates adopted a visionary Mission Statement that calls for:
- A just foreign policy
- An end to U.S. occupation of foreign countries,
- Redirecting the nation’s resources from inflated military spending to 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
- Solidarity with workers and their organizations around the world
In the Fall of 2009, the need to organize based on these principles is greater than ever.
Despite hundreds of billions of dollars, more than 4300 US fatalities and an unknown number of Iraqi deaths and personal trauma, the people of Iraq and the US have little to show for it. Violence and economic devastation abound. More than 130,000 US troops and an even greater number of private contractors remain on Iraqi soil. Iraqi workers still have no right to union representation, as the US supported government clings to Saddam’s 1987 anti-union labor law. Global corporations hover over Iraq like vultures waiting for the opportunity to seize control of Iraqi resources
In Afghanistan, after 8 years of war the US faces another quagmire of death, dollars and destruction, with the added elements of drug lords, massive corruption and untold human dislocation and suffering. This is now President Obama’s war – a war that threatens to undermine both Obama’s and labor’s domestic agenda, much as Vietnam did to LBJ’s.
Meanwhile Pakistan, a country with 173 million people ruled by a corrupt regime with a nuclear arsenal, is threatened with dangerous destabilization as the US has turned it into part of a military battlefield in what is now a regional war.
The giant sucking sound you hear is the US military budget of 2/3 of a trillion dollars that consumes 58 cents of every tax dollar as it drains away precious resources from meeting human needs.
Labor can never have a sustainable full employment economy, healthcare for all, an environmentally responsible energy policy, and humane immigration policy while billions of dollars and countless lives are squandered on unwinnable and unnecessary wars that make us no safer but make a small elite very rich. The Iraq and Afghan wars will distract from and overwhelm any possibility of implementing a progressive agenda.
USLAW has had a powerful effect in the labor movement since its formation in 2003, helping to alter how organized labor views foreign policy. But our mission is far from over. USLAW is the only voice of workers that brings them to the forefront in linking the struggle for a just society to the struggle for a just foreign policy.
U.S. labor needs a larger, more powerful and influential USLAW.
Our challenge is to refocus and re-energize our movement, to more clearly make the connection between the economic crisis, a national economy that operates in service to the military-industrial complex and a militarized foreign policy that puts our country at odds with most of the people of the world. We need to figure out how to make foreign policy a legitimate subject of discussion and an important concern to be addressed by our labor movement – in much the same way concern for the environment and a sustainable economy is now understood to be a legitimate focus for organized labor.
Our task is to expand the vision of the labor movement so that unions serve as more than instruments for reshaping our workplaces. They must become instruments for reshaping our world.
Come to Chicago to help
US Labor Against the War
Chart a Path to Peace with Justice
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