U.S. Labor Against the War

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U.S. Labor Against the War is a partner organization of the Institute for Policy Studies.[1] USLAW was founded at a Chicago conference in January of 2003 by between 125[2] and 200 delegates from unions, labor councils, regional and state labor bodies, allied constituency groups, labor antiwar committees, worker centers and other labor organizations.[3]

Korea trip

Report on a May 2018 delegation of US trade unionists, Black Lives Matter, and other social movement activists to trade unions in Korea, sponsored by US Labor Against the War and the Korean Trade Union Confederation.

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Labor Network for Sustainability (LNS) executive director Michael Leon Guererro reports on a delegation of US trade unionists, Black Lives Matter, and other social movement activists to trade unions in Korea, sponsored by US Labor Against the War and the Korean Trade Union Confederation. Michael reports that the Korean labor movement played a key role in the peace process:

The road to the peace process was paved by the Candlelight Revolution - a popular movement uprising that lasted for months - ending in December 2016 with the impeachment of Korean President Park Gun-hye. Anchored by the KCTU, the movement mobilized hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets in a series of protests against the corruption of the Park government and political domination by the family-owned conglomerates known as chaebols. On May 9, 2017, Moon Jae-in, a human rights attorney, was elected as the new President.
The delegation learned the history of the KCTU, which has grown to be a powerful organized voice of workers and changed the political landscape of Korea since being established just 30 years ago. Some of them met with former KCTU Chairman Han Sang-gyun and former vice-president Lee Young-Joo, both imprisoned by the Park administration on trumped up charges while protesting labor law reforms that would further limit workers' rights.
How will the process of denuclearization take place? What will be the timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops? How will the U.S. transition and clean up its military bases and the legacy of heavy toxic pollution that these bases invariably create? And will Trump ultimately derail a peace process that the Koreans themselves have taken into their own hands?
Glass cases filled with gas masks is not a common site in any metro station except in South Korea. Metro lines are buried deeper underground than most systems. Transit riders walk through long tunnels to make connections between stations. This has become a cultural legacy in a country more than 3 generations into the Cold War. Over the years there have been hopeful moments that the political military tension would come to an end - only to end in disappointment and frustration. But in this moment, there is cautious optimism that a transition to peace is really on the horizon.
From May 1 through 8 I had the honor to be invited on a delegation organized by US Labor Against the War (USLAW) to South Korea. It was a peace mission sponsored by USLAW and the Korean Trade Union Confederation (KCTU). Our group was a mix of trade unionists, Black Lives Matter and other social movement activists and a team of interns from Tougaloo College. Our purpose was to strengthen solidarity with the Korean labor and social movements. We couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Just a week earlier President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea met in an historic summit at the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two countries. Both leaders agreed to a peace process that will ultimately end the Korean War and eventually reunify the Korean peninsula.
The road to the peace process was paved by the Candlelight Revolution - a popular movement uprising that lasted for months - ending in December 2016 with the impeachment of Korean President Park Gunhye. Anchored by the KCTU, the movement mobilized hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets in a series of protests against the corruption of the Park government and political domination by the family-owned conglomerates known as chaebols that control major sectors of the South Korean economy. On May 9, 2017, Moon Jae-in, a human rights attorney, was elected as the new President.
After a very informative orientation session at the Maritime Center in Baltimore led by Juyeon Rhee, Executive Director of Nodutdol and Reece Chenault, USLAW Executive Director, the delegation had to quickly troubleshoot as the first leg of our flight to Toronto was canceled. The team got most of us on alternate flights so that we arrived early in the morning of May 1.

A few hours later we were in the midst of tens of thousands of Korean trade unionists at the May Day rally. It was a powerful and visually striking event - with a parade of large flags representing hundreds of unions and expressions of solidarity with workers and communities in the midst of strikes or protests across the country. The #metoo movement has also had a strong influence in Korea and women workers throughout Korea were waging a nation-wide campaign to confront sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.
The next day we visited the small farming village of Seong Ju where a small army of 80-year old women is leading a protest movement against the THAAD missile defense system that the U.S. imposed on the region despite the objections of the surrounding villages. We were able to participate in a weekly Wednesday rally. We had great chants that a crew of our young delegates put together and the villagers loved the lively show of solidarity.
On May 3 we did a press conference in front of the U.S. embassy with leaders of KCTU. We recognized that the peace process is an important opportunity for workers and communities in the U.S. as well. We need to think about our own transition to a peacetime economy and to support the process forged by the Korean leaders.
The rest of the day was spent with leaders of KCTU, including Vice-President _______, who is also the chair of the KCTU reunification committee and the Railway Workers Union (RWU) which has played an important role in building KCTU. The current chair of the confederation, Kim Myeong-hwan was the former chair of the RWU. We learned more about the history of the KCTU, which has grown to be a powerful organized voice of workers and changed the political landscape of Korea since being established just 30 years ago.
Small teams from our delegation were also able to meet with former KCTU Chairman Han Sang-gyun and former vice-president Lee Young-Joo, both imprisoned by the Park administration on trumped up charges while protesting labor law reforms that would further limit workers’ rights. Other members of the delegation met with representatives of the Korean Teachers Union which was decertified by the Park administration by allowing unemployed teachers to maintain their membership in the union. The team from Tougaloo college also met with a student organization and shared experiences of organizing and political education of students in their respective communities.

As a representative of the Labor Network for Sustainability I was of course interested in the position of the Korean government and the trade unions on climate change and a just transition from a fossil-fuelbased to a sustainable economy. In 2017 the Korean Power Plant Industry Union actually applauded the decision by the Moon administration to phase out older coal-fired power plants stating “Although our hearts are heavy, we welcome the shutdown of worn out coal power plants because we are clear about what kind of country we want to leave for our descendants.” Unfortunately I couldn’t find out more about other Korean union positions on these questions during the visit, but it is definitely an area where there is much opportunity for dialogue and exchange.
Our last visit was to the DMZ. We were met by representatives of the village of _____ and they hosted us for lunch. Our last stop was the Dorasan train station - a newly built station that was supposed to connect to the North Korean rail system when the last promising peace negotiations faltered a few years ago. The station is now a tourist spot with hopes of one day realizing its true mission.

Many questions remain in the transition to peace - how will the process of denuclearization take place? What will be the timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops? How will the U.S. transition and clean up its military bases and the legacy of heavy toxic pollution that these bases invariably create? And will Trump ultimately derail a peace process that the Koreans themselves have taken into their own hands?
A promising proposal for the DMZ is that it be converted to a wildlife refuge. Apparently this fourkilometer wide stretch of land that spans the peninsula has developed into a de-facto, protected ecosystem where wildlife has flourished for nearly 7 decades - an unexpected legacy of the Cold War that hopefully has the chance to continue and expand across a united Korea.
Special thanks to Wol San Liem and Mikyung Ryu of the KCTU International Department for the hospitality, education and logistics coordination. Looking forward to more U.S.-Korea exchange and solidarity in the years to come.[4]

Delegates list

Reece Chenault;

Our delegate list was a veritable Murderer’s Row of social justice that I, to this day, can’t believe was possible:

USLAW Officers

U.S. Labor Against the War Officers, 2018.

February 13, 2003 Press Conference

The objective of the press conference was to build publicity for and participation in the labor contingent which USLAW and LC4PJ were organizing for the antiwar demonstration in San Francisco on Feb. 16, 2003.[7] The following union leaders spoke at the press conference;

Mission

The stated principles of USLAW formulated on October 25, 2003[9] are to advocate, educate and mobilize in the U.S. labor movement for:

  • A Just Foreign Policy that will bring genuine security and prosperity to working people. A policy that strengthens international treaties, supports human rights institutions, respects national sovereignty and upholds the right of self-determination for all peoples.
  • A foreign policy that solves disputes by diplomacy rather than war.
  • A policy that promotes global economic and social justice rather than the race-to-the-bottom, job-destroying, discriminatory practices favored by multinational corporations.
  • An End to U.S. Occupation of Foreign Countries, replaced by the reconstruction of war-devastated nations with the full support of the international community and the full participation and decision-making power of affected peoples.
  • Redirecting the Nation's Resources from inflated military spending to meeting the needs of working families for health care, education, a clean environment, housing and a decent standard of living based on principles of equality and democracy.
  • Supporting Our Troops and their Families by bringing the troops home now, by not recklessly putting them in harm's way and by providing decent compensation, veterans' benefits and domestic policies administered without discrimination that prioritize the needs of working people who make up the bulk of the military.
  • Protecting Workers' Rights, Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and the Rights of Immigrants by promoting democracy, not subverting it. Ethnic, racial and religious profiling and stereotyping must be replaced by policies that promote dignity, economic justice and respect for all working people.
  • Solidarity With Workers and their Organizations Around the World who are struggling for their own labor and human rights, and with those in the U.S. who want U.S. foreign and domestic policies to reflect our nation's highest ideals.
USLAW protest, 9/24/05

Officers

2008 Steering Committee, Officers[10]

Affiliates

All National Organizations and Large Local Unions (10,000 or more members) automatically have a seat on the Steering Committee (2008):

  • CWA
  • IBT Local 743, Chicago
  • AFSCME Local 371, NYC
  • AFT Local 1021 (UTLA), Los Angeles
  • AFT Local 2190 (UUP), New York
  • AFT 2334 (PSC), New York City
  • APALA
  • APRI
  • CLUW
  • CNA
  • CWA Local 1034, New Jersey
  • CWA Local 9119 (UPTE), CA
  • NEA P&J Caucus
  • Pride at Work; SEIU Local 1, IL
  • SEIU Local 1000, CA
  • SEIU Local 1021, SF
  • SEIU 1199NE, New England
  • SEIU Local 1983 (CFA), CA
  • SEIU Local 32BJ, NYC
  • SEIU Local 509, MA
  • SEIU Local 521, CA
  • SEIU Local 615, MA
  • SEIU Local 73, IL
  • SEIU Healthcare, PA
  • SEIU UHWE (1199), NY/MD/MA
  • SEIU UHW, CA
  • UE
  • UFCW Local 1776, PA
  • UFCW Local 5, CA
  • UNITE HERE Local 5, HI
  • UNITE HERE Local 2, SF
  • UNITE HERE Local 11, So. CA

Small Local Unions

  • CWA Local 1180, NYC
  • AFT Local 212, Milwaukee
  • BMWE Local 3014
  • National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981
  • USW Local 675, El Segundo, CA
  • CWA Local 9415, Oakland.

Two seats were left vacant to be filled to meet diversity objectives.

Regional Labor Organizations: CA Fed. of Teachers; UNITE HERE Chicago & Midwest Joint Board; So. Carolina AFL-CIO. One seat left vacant to be filled later.

Central Labor Bodies: Philadelphia; So. Central WI; SF. Two seats left vacant to be filled later.

Local Allied Labor Organizations: AFSCME Retirees Chapter 36, LA; Philadelphia CLUW. One seat left vacant to be filled later.

Ad Hoc Labor Antiwar Groups: Chicago Labor for Peace Prosperity and Justice; Central Coast Workers Against War.

Other (Non-Union) Labor Organizations: Center for Labor Renewal; Ohio Labor Party; Vermont Workers Center.

Staff

2008 Steering Committee, staff[11]

2008 Leadership Council Meeting Participants

A table-formatted list of the "2008 Leadership Council Meeting Participants" came from the U.S. Labor Against the War USLAW,website of www.uslaboragainstwar.org, with an address of PMB 153, 1718 M Street, N.W., Washington DC 20036. The list was framed with "Organization; Type; State; Name: Title, slighlty rearranged by KW because of formatting. They were:

External links

References