Report on Feb. 4 Chicago Federation of Labor discussion of the war

Several members of Chicago Labor Against War passed out a letter introducing our group to delegates of the Chicago Federation of Labor at its monthly meeting (see below).

The letter included the U.S. Labor Against War founding statement, and asked delegates to discuss USLAW during the "good and welfare" portion of the CFL meeting as well as in their respective unions.

Earlier that day, CFL President Dennis Gannon had spoken with Steve Edwards, president of AFSCME Local 2858, and invited Steve to present the statement. Gerry Zero, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 705, also spoke with Steve and said that Local 705's delegates would speak in support. A number of other delegates had agreed to do likewise.

At the appropriate point on the agenda, Steve came to the microphone and spoke eloquently that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would be a rich man's war and poor man's fight. Next, Mark Postillion, recording secretary and business agent for Teamsters Local 705, reported that the local passed an antiwar resolution in October and went on to attack the false patriotism, and warmongers and oil profiteers that this war will be fought for. Bill Davis, chief shop steward in IAM Local 701 at UPS and a former national coordinator of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, spoke as both a trade unionist and a veteran about the unresolved issues of the Vietnam era, including homeless veterans. Elena Marcheschi, a delegate from IATSE, spoke about the antiwar resolution recently passed by the Chicago City Council and read excerpts from testimony at the meeting, including that from WWII veteran wounded in battle and Mayor Richard Daley.

You could look around the room and see people who were quite moved by the speakers. When each person finished, a large majority applauded. No one spoke in favor of the war, or against the USLAW statement.

Brother Gannon then said, in a friendly manner, that procedure required that the CFL executive board endorse and pass any resolution before it is presented to the body. The implication was that the member unions should consider the USLAW resolution and then motivate it for consideration by the CFL at the next meeting. At a different point in the agenda, a woman representing the Coalition of Labor Union Women announced that her chapter was organizing for February 15 demonstration.

Overall, the CFL meeting provided excellent opportunity to spread the word about both USLAW and Chicago Labor Against War. The letter advertised our next meeting as well as our activities for the February 15 antiwar protests.

We hope that as many labor activists as possible can attend the next Chicago Labor Against War meeting, Sat., Feb. 8, 12:30 pm, UNITE, Ashland & Van Buren.

In solidarity,
Joe Allen
Shop steward,
Teamsters Local 705


A letter to delegates to the Chicago Federation of Labor from Chicago Labor Against War

February 4, 2003

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

We are here to represent a newly formed organization, Chicago Labor Against War, in support of U.S. Labor Against War, a national organization founded in a conference at the Teamsters Local 705 auditorium on January 11. We are writing to help introduce the U.S. Labor Against the War founding statement for discussion at tonight's CFL meeting and in our respective unions.

Chicago Labor Against War began as an informal grouping of labor activists who met in December to organize a meeting, "Labor Voices and Veterans Speak Out on War," held January 10, also at the 705 auditorium. Featured speakers included Dan Lane, the former UPIU activist and "road warrior" against the lockout by A.E. Staley; Bill Davis, an IAM Local 701 chief steward at UPS in Chicago and former national coordinator of Vietnam Veterans Against the War; Loretta Byrd, recording secretary, Teamsters Local 738, Chicago; and Brenda Stokely, president, AFSCME District Council 1707 in New York City.

At a subsequent meeting at the UNITE hall on January 25, members of a number of unions, including UNITE, USWA, Teamsters, AFSCME, IBEW, the Chicago Teachers Union and others, formally launched Chicago Labor Against War.

We believe that the U.S. Labor Against War statement, as a product of debate and discussion of trade unionists across the U.S., reflects the widespread and growing opposition to the U.S. government's war preparations against Iraq. It is printed on the reverse side of this letter.

We stand on the brink of a war that, if joined, will have incalculable consequences for us, our children and our children's children. We hope that you will join in a discussion of the U.S. Labor Against the War statement and take it back to your respective unions for consideration.

Currently, Chicago Labor Against War is organizing for the International Day of Action against the war on Saturday, February 15. We have endorsed a local demonstration for immigrant rights at 12 noon, 2200 W. Devon, in the heart of the Pakistani community. We have also endorsed, and plan to send a delegation to, the national day of protest called by United for Peace and Justice in New York City, also on February 15.

The next meeting of Chicago Labor Against War is Saturday, February 8, at 12:30 pm at the UNITE hall, Ashland Ave. at Van Buren, Chicago. For more information, please contact us at 312-264-2551 (voice or fax) or by e-mail at chi_labor_antiwar@yahoo.com.

In solidarity,
Chicago Labor Against War
Last revised on February 07, 2003 by the Webmaster.