News and opinions on situation in the Middle East
30/11/03 Campaign for Labor Rights in Iraq
From: "US Labor Against War"

Date: Thu, 4 Dec 2003 13:23:12 -0500

Subject: [uslaw-assembly] Campaign for Labor Rights in Iraq

Sponsored by U.S. Labor Against the War

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

The International Labor Solidarity Task Force of U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) has prepared a series of organizing materials to launch one of USLAW's most important campaigns: the nationwide Campaign to End the Occupation and For Labor Rights in Iraq. We call on all supporters of USLAW to participate in this effort.

Following this email in separate emails will be basic documents for this campaign (which are also available for download in PDF format from the USLAW website at



A Fact Sheet on this campaign titled,"WhyaCampaignforLaborRightsinIraq?"

You will also find important background material on this campaign–such as thee xcellent Op-Ed article byDavid Bacon published intheNovember 9, 2003, issue of the Los Angeles Times, An Anti-Labor Line in the Sand"–at the USLAW website.

Here are some things you can do to build this Campaign:

1) Take the Model resolution (adapt it for your own conditions if necessary) and move it for adoption by your union, labor council or other labor organization. Be sure to notify USLAW once the resolution is adopted.

2) Help us gather thousands of signatures on our USLAW Petition by circulating it in your workplace and your community and mailing it the USLAW address listed on the petition form.

3) When doing so, ask each signer if they would be willing to donate from $1.00 to $10.00 to a special Iraqi Labor Solidarity Fund that will be used to provide the newly organized unions in Iraq with badly needed office equipment, computers, furniture and supplies.

While no one should feel compelled to donate in order to sign the petition, many workers will gladly contribute something when they do sign if asked. You can collect these funds and return them to USLAW with your completed petitions.

Contributions can also be made at the USLAW website to a special Labor Rights Solidarity Fund or by sending checks payable to USLAW-Labor Rights Campaign to P.O. Box 153, 1718 M Street NW, Washington, DC. 20036.

4) Use the adopted resolution and/or completed petitions as the basis for a meeting with your Congressional representatives. Take along the Fact Sheet and the various background articles from the website. (Click on "Campaigns," then on the link for the Campaign for Labor Rights.) Explain the need to convene Congressional hearings into the violation of basic labor rights in Iraq today -- particularly the fact that Saddam Hussein's anti-union legislation is still being enforced.

5) Put together a speaking tour in your city -- including meetings at union halls and interviews on local radio stations -- for Clarence Thomas and David Bacon, the two USLAW unionists who participated in the October 2003 international labor delegation to Iraq. (The radio call-in shows can help you promote the speaking tour in advance.) Also use the tour -- which must be self-financed in your city, or in conjunction with neighboring cities -- to have Clarence or David meet with top officials in the Central Labor Council and major local unions in your region.

6) As part of the Campaign, USLAW will endeavor to obtain and post weekly updates on the labor situation in Iraq. We will also provide a way in which U.S. workers can pose questions to Iraqi union activists and will publish responses on the website to those questions as they become available. Petition signers who provide an email address will also be able to receive these weekly updates and responses to questions directly at their email address.

To help generate a discussion about how best to carry out this campaign, we urge those of you interested in working with us on this effort to register for the International Solidarity/Campaign for Labor Rights Task Force under the "Committees" section of the USLAW website.

There is a message board section on each task force’s web page that will allow us to exchange experiences and generate new ideas for building this campaign.

After you have registered, log-in at

Then visit the Task Force page for the Campaign for Labor Rights at


In Solidarity,

USLAW International Labor Solidarity Task Force


[Sample union newsletter/newspaper story.]


Two U.S. trade unionists, newly returned from a fact-finding delegation to Iraq, delivered a disturbing report on the status of workers’ rights under the U.S.-led occupation to 200 delegates attending the National Labor Assembly for Peace, held Oct. 24-25 at the hall of Teamsters Local 705 in Chicago. The delegation was initiated by U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW), which also convened the Assembly.

Clarence Thomas, a member of the Executive Board of ILWU Local 10, and David Bacon, a labor journalist and photographer, a member of the Newspaper Guild, reported that Iraqi workers are experiencing massive unemployment, frozen or declining incomes, and job insecurity in the face of U.S.-announced plans to privatize state-owned businesses. Of the $87 billion that Congress approved for the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, not a penny has been allocated to raising the wages of Iraqi workers or providing unemployment compensation benefits to the 70% who are still without jobs.

Most shocking, perhaps, is the fact that the U.S. occupation authority is enforcing a 1987 Saddam-era law prohibiting unionization in the public sector and at state-owned enterprises, where most Iraqi workers are employed. The Bush administration’s claim to be occupying Iraq to establish a democracy cannot stand when it is suppressing a fundamental right in all democratic societies the right of workers to form independent trade unions.

Despite these obstacles, the workers of Iraq have begun organizing. Two union federations the Workers Democratic Trade Union Federation and the Workers Unions and Councils are organizing in both the public and private sectors, demanding union recognition and staging stoppages and protests. Last summer a newly-formed Union of the Unemployed staged a 5-day sit-in to demand jobs or income; fifty-five of their leaders were arrested by the occupation forces and held until the U.N. intervened to win their release.

The National Labor Assembly for Peace in Chicago voted to challenge the militarization of U.S. foreign policy and the spending for war over human and social needs. USLAW is launching a campaign to support the workers of Iraq and to demand that the U.S. occupation forces guarantee to Iraqi workers all internationally-recognized labor rights, including the right to organize and bargain collectively.

WANT TO GET INVOLVED? Go to the USLAW web site (

Sign the petition to support the Campaign for Labor Rights in Iraq.

Download a copy to circulate in your workplace and community.

Register at the site to be on the USLAW Action Network for notice of other important activities.

Then check out the model resolution that is also available there that can be introduced in your union.

You'll find a report on the National LaborAssembly for Peace there...and more. Here are some relevant webaddresses.

Petition in Support of Labor Rights in Iraq:


Model Resolution to Support Labor Rights in Iraq:

Report on the Labor Assembly for Peace:

Associate Member Application Form:

USLAW Mission Statement:

Model Resolution for organizational Affiliation with USLAW:

Register to be on the USLAW Network:









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