One of the memorable images of the Vietnam war era was a news photo of hard-hatted construction workers beating up peace demonstrators near a New York construction site. The AFL-CIO was one of the leading supporters of the war. Although by the late 1960s working class communities prompted in part by their disillusioned youth returning from military service in Vietnam) had largely rejected the war, the AFL-CIO remained one of the last bastions of support for Lyndon Johnson’s and the Richard Nixon’s Vietnam policies.
Not so in the Iraq war. Even in the immediate wake of 9/11, many unionists were skeptical of the rush to war. Labor participation in the massive global demonstrations against a U.S. attack on Iraq was strong. An active U.S. Labor Against the War [http://www.uslaboragainstwar.org] organization developed broad support in diverse parts of the labor movement. By July, 2005 the AFL-CIO – under pressure from below -- came out officially for a rapid return of all U.S. troops from Iraq. Unions affiliated with Change to Win, notably SEIU, have been significant participants in anti-war actions and major funders of anti-war organizations.
Now labor groups, along with other folks, are initiating a new anti-war effort called the Iraq Moratorium www.iraqmoratorium.org that provides a natural way for labor’s rank and file to express its opposition to the war.