Oil Worker Solidarity
from Dave Campbell, Secretary-Treasurer of USW 675 in the LA Harbor was sent to
a representative of the Oil Workers Union in Iraq. Other unions might consider
emulating this superb act of solidarity. Individual contributions to the Sarah
Fund can be made to the USLAW Iraq Labor Soldiarity Fund, 1718 M Street, NW
#153, Washington, DC 20036 (put Sarah Fund in the memo line).
I am writing to let you and the other Brothers and Sisters of our sister union in Basra know about David Bacon's great idea to follow-up on Hassan and Faleh's visit last spring to Los Angeles with a photo documentary show called Iraqi Workers Organize! at our Union Hall and at International Longshore Workers Union (ILWU) Local 63. The photo documentary show was co-sponsored by our Local Union, by ILWU Local 63, by the United Teachers of Los Angeles, by the Diane Middleton Foundation (who provided funding for the show's production), by the ILWU's Harry Bridges Institute and by the 800,000 member Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. The show's opening was attended by officials of our International Union and by a number of leaders of other United Steelworker locals, as well as others. The show was on exhibit in our Union Hall for the month of February and has now moved to ILWU Local 63 for the month of March.
February 5 was one of the biggest of American holidays, Super Bowl Sunday, when the American Football Championship is played. It is a time when family and friends gather to watch the game, cheer for their favorites, enjoy food and drink and have a good time. We had about 60 members and their family and friends gather at our Union Hall to watch the game and enjoy a barbecue. (I cooked food for three days in preparation.) The Super Bowl gathering lasted several hours and in the course of the gathering, people had an extended opportunity to look at the photos and to read the descriptions below each photo. The descriptions and the photos lay-out in a visual and easy to understand way all the struggles of Iraqi oil workers, dock workers, and electrical workers. Many of these woes are the same as ours - the struggle to defend our jobs from contractors, the struggle to get adequate health care, etc. The photos put a human face on stories we read about or watch on television about the war.
One of the best photos in the exhibit, in my opinion, is of you coming home and tasting your wife's cooking before dinner. You had such a look of satisfaction that I think is universally human: an _expression that every male worker can identify with irregardless of nationality. Providing for our families is, after all, what we work for. We all recognize how satisfying it is to come home after a hard day of work, to taste a fine meal prepared by our family and to sit down to eat with those with love.
When workers at the Super Bowl party understood the story of the photo documentary show there was then a discussion of what could be done to help. Several ideas were discussed and then we all agreed that the best idea was to do a gate collection to raise money for Sara's medical treatment. We thought that if Sara could receive medical treatment then, perhaps, Nura could return to school. The members then asked two of our younger, newer members to organize the gate collection. These workers were Pedro Gonzalez and Jesus Vasquez.
Pedro, Jesus, Mark Patton, and refinery union leaders Marv Sundstrom, Raudel Covarrubias, and Dave Simmons then leafleted their refinery, the ConocoPhillips Los Angeles refinery. The leaflet was provided to us by our mutual and great friend David Bacon. I have attached a copy of the leaflet for you to see and to share with your family, friends, and co-workers. These workers collected about $1,831 dollars at their refinery gates on pay day and when the money was brought back to our Union Hall, staff from my office also contributed so altogether we have collected $2,000.00 so far with a little more pledged.
We are forwarding the money to U.S. Labor Against The War's Iraq Solidarity Fund. We hope that Sara can soon get the medical care that she needs.
We also hope that our efforts set an example of how other unions here can extend solidarity and friendship to the workers of Iraq and their families. We also hope that workers in both of our countries can soon raise our families in peace, not worry about our children being maimed or killed in an unjust war, and where we can use the fruits of our labor to meet the real needs of the citizens of both of our countries, such as for jobs, housing, health care and education. Already the child of one of our members, Anthony Davis, has been killed in this war. Anthony's son's death, Sara's injuries, and the thousands of other needless tragedies must stop. Hassan's and Felah's trip to America, as well as those of the other Iraqi labor leaders, was a wonderful inspiration to all of us. We were very impressed with the heroism of Iraqi oil workers.
In Solidarity and with Fraternal Regard,
David W. Campbell
United Steelworkers Local 675
1200 E. 220th St.
Carson, CA 90745-3505
U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW)
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1718 "M" Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
Co-convenors: Gene Bruskin, Maria Guillen, Fred Mason,