Labor Advocate Online
Unifying the Antiwar Movement: USLAW Can Help!
The statement below was approved unanimously by the Executive Board of the Ohio State Labor Party, an affiliate of US Labor Against the War, on Sunday, January 30, 2005.
The Ohio State Labor Party
enthusiastically welcomes the decision made by USLAW to organize labor rallies
The climate for visible labor antiwar
actions has radically improved since the days of
Whatever the turnout for the labor
organized rallies on March 19, they could be the start of something of
tremendous significance: mobilizing substantial numbers of workers in the
streets to demand an end to the
Imagine the situation after March 19
when it will be imperative to organize even larger demonstrations against the
war and occupation, reflecting the majority sentiment that has developed in the
No country in the world needs a united antiwar movement more than the
There is nothing new about divisions in
the antiwar movement. During the Vietnam war the two major peace coalitions were
divided politically, ideologically and organizationally, and they also had their
share of personal feuds. The difference between then and now is that during
Two factors helped spur this unity in action. One was that antiwar activists at the grass roots in cities across the country demanded it and made their views known. The other was the intervention of highly regarded antiwar union leaders who, when the need arose, helped the two coalitions bridge the gap and resolve their differences.
Unity does not come easily or automatically. It has to be struggled for by people who are not concerned about turf but whose primary motivation is to build the strongest antiwar movement possible.
So what does all of this have to do
with USLAW? USLAW is focused on winning the labor movement to the antiwar cause.
Indeed, the eventual success of the antiwar movement is dependent, to a
considerable extent, on how successful USLAW and other forces are in winning
The starting point is to recognize and appreciate the contributions made by both of today's major coalitions, ANSWER and UFPJ, in mobilizing literally millions of people over the past few years in antiwar actions. Any criticisms anyone may direct at either of these coalitions or their leaders should not obscure what they have achieved.
Second, USLAW is in a position to
influence both groups, just as trade unionists did during
Third, USLAW should engage in dialogue with the major figures in both coalitions, whether in one room or separately, and with representatives of other peace groups which have a clear-cut “Out Now” position and have made valuable contributions in their own right. Dialogue is essential to clearing the air and breaking down barriers. Whatever grievances or misunderstandings exist and stand in the way of unity can be aired and, hopefully, overcome.
To move the unity process forward, USLAW should establish a Unity Committee, which could meet with leaders of the respective coalitions and other key antiwar groups, address outstanding issues, and figure out how best to bring everybody together to plan united demonstrations in the future. Such a Unity Committee would, of course, report to and be subject to the direction of USLAW’s co-convenors and steering committee. All of this could be done without taking up the time of any USLAW member who is actively involved in other areas of the coalition’s work, especially organizing rallies and mass actions.
An alternative for USLAW is to do nothing and allow the divisions in the antiwar movement to fester and perhaps worsen. But this alternative is the polar opposite of USLAW’s decision to join with all antiwar groups to build united actions. How do we join with them if we are not even communicating with them or they with us?
In the same way that we all recognize the need for a united labor movement to fight the bosses’ offensive against the working class at home, so we need a united peace movement to most effectively oppose the U.S. government’s offensive against peoples abroad. Now is the time to take steps to unify that movement and USLAW has a key role to play in the process.