Labor Advocate Online

Week In Review

A Weekly Column by Bill Onasch
July 17, 2005

Labor Efforts Against the War Intensify
US Labor Against the War is coordinating efforts at the upcoming AFL-CIO convention to put the federation on record against the war/occupation in Iraq. Partnering up with Pride At Work, USLAW is sponsoring a reception for delegates. At the reception, and other appropriate places, USLAW delegates will be distributing a flier, When will the AFL-CIO Come Out Against the Occupation of Iraq?; along with copies of the Iraqi Labor Solidarity Tour Report; and the Joint Declaration signed by Iraqi trade union and USLAW leaders at conclusion of the Iraqi Labor Solidarity Tour. A number of national unions and state feds have adopted positions against the war and resolutions have been submitted to the convention. If you are a delegate and want to help out please contact USLAW right away.

Meanwhile efforts by some activists in USLAW to promote unity around mass antiwar action in Washington September 24 got some positive response. United For Peace & Justice, sponsor of one of two competing actions at that place and date, issued a statement July 14 expressing a willingness to hold further discussions with the other major national coalition, ANSWER. I’ve co-signed, along with Alan Benjamin, Jerry Gordon, and Andy Griggs, a statement welcoming this modest step in the right direction by UFPJ, while reiterating some simple proposals that we think could expedite unity in action. For the moment at least, the ball now seems to be back in ANSWER’s court. The ranks in the antiwar movement should not let up in our insistence for the leaders to forge a united, massive turnout in September demanding that the troops be brought home now.

Windy City Braces For More Hot Air
The AFL-CIO is not a big convention by Chicago standards. But our labor leaders gathering next weekend on Navy Pier are big spenders–and the hospitality suites may help ease the tension of the conclave. If the chance for unity in the antiwar movement is slim the chance for unity in the union movement is none. The only questions remaining about the coming split is whether all those associated with Change to Win will follow Andy Stern out the door, and whether the Sweeney loyalists will carry out their threat to excommunicate the splitters from central labor, trades and industrial bodies. The answers will be either bad news or worse news for American workers.

In the past, federation conventions have been pretty wide open to observers. Not this time. My request for press accreditation was not even acknowledged, much less granted. In view of this I have decided not to take on the expense of the trip just to hang around the security guards. I do know some delegates and reporters who will be inside the Big Tent and I will be following webcasts, daily blogs, etc. I will have some comments to make once the smoke has cleared.

Hats Off to Heartland Labor Forum
The International Labor Communications Association has given the Heartland Labor Forum radio show another award. This one is for best radio program in the category "Long Program - produced by Union Members/Staff." The winning show aired on August 26 and 27, 2004 and was titled Iraqi Workers Two Months After "Self Rule" & Does the Trade Deficit Matter?." The trade section consisted of an interview of Thea Lee, the Chief International Economist of the AFL-CIO, by Judy Ancel, director of the Institute for Labor Studies. The Iraq portion was an interview with David Bacon, a noted labor journalist and a leader of USLAW’s Iraqi labor solidarity work, conducted by Jeff Humfeld and yours truly.

‘Stupid and Deadly’
That was the apt title Jordan Barab gave to his report in Confined Space about a la migra sting. Immigration officers circulated a flier at a North Carolina air force base advertising a mandatory safety briefing by OSHA for contract workers. Free coffee and doughnuts were offered. But dozens of undocumented workers who showed up for the scam were taken into custody and slated for deportation. Linking safety enforcement to deportation will only make the appalling accident rate among immigrant workers worse.

Patients, Nurses Win Another Victory
Chalk up another one for the California Nurses Association. CNA won an agreement for 4700 nurses at Catholic Healthcare West that pledges to maintain patient/nurse ratios in current California law even if the health care bosses and the governor succeed in getting them thrown out. Under the CHW contract, nurses will also see an average 26 percent wage and benefit gain over four years.

As always, much of the material in this weekly column is based on stories posted on the Daily Labor News Digest.

That’s all for this week.

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