Monthly Archives: December 2004

2004.12.02: Proposed Resolution to December 2004 USLAW Conference

proposed-amendments-_nyclaw_ (1) — OCR

[Proposed deletions in brackets; proposed insertions in bold caps]

Proposed Amendments to International Solidarity Perspective Proposals to Steering Committee
Proposed Resolution to December 2004 USLAW Conference
Submitted by Michael Letwin, USLAW Steering Committee Member
On Behalf of New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW)

December 2, 2004

The central and most urgent task before USLAW and all progressive forces in the US is IMMEDIATELY ending the occupation of Iraq and bringing the troops home NOW. All aspects of USLAW’s international solidarity work must flow from this principle. This is true because the war in Iraq dominates all foreign policy objectives for the US and has a profound impact on domestic policy. [By linking Iraq to] THROUGH the “War on Terror,” OF WHICH THE  WAR IN IRAQ IS THE LEADING EDGE, the Bush administration HAS PURSUED POLICIES OF EMPIRE THAT HAVE INFLICTED WIDESPREAD TERROR ON WORKERS ABROAD AND is able to drive a broad range of domestic policies, from unlimited military budgets to the denial of civil rights and civil liberties. It is the central aspect of the Bush administration’s agenda.

  • IMMEDIATELY ending the occupation and bringing the troops home N0W. We need to develop a focus(es) for our work in this area, in particular one that labor can implement effectively. This can include a range of actions: concentrated lobbying in Congress to oppose continual funding of the war and propose ending the occupation; mobilizing our members for anti-war demos and actions, including labor led actions; doing extensive educational work among our members in a variety of settings on why the war is bad for them and for all workers in this country, and more. TO BE CONSISTENT IN OUR OPPOSITION TO WAR AND OCCUPATION, USLAW WILL ALSO SUPPORT While there are INEXTRICABLY RELATED, critical struggles FOR LABOR RIGHTS, FREEDOM AND SELF-DETERMINATION going on in other countries such as Venezuela, Columbia, HAITI, AFGHANISTANand [Israel/Palestine the focus of the debate needs to still center around the question of Iraq. USLAW’s limited resources should be concentrated on this effort], PALESTINE, WHICH CHALLENGE UNJUST POLICIES PURSUED BY THE US GOVERNMENT, OFTEN WITH AFL-CIO COMPLICITY.
  • Supporting Iraqi Trade Unionists. The Iraqi labor movement is a central part of the secular progressive forces in Iraq today. Providing material support in various forms is a direct way that USLAW can support the struggle for a democratic Iraq. In addition to material aid USLAW could deepen the commitment of labor to the anti war struggle by sending union members to Iraq and bringing Iraqi trade unionists to the US. Continuing efforts already underway with Iraqi trade unionists which focus on creating a labor law based on ILO conventions are also important. It could be possible for USLAW to call an international meeting of unions from around the world in solidarity with THOSE IN the Iraqi labor movement and WHO STAND in GENUINE opposition to – NOT FOR COLLABORATION WITH – the war and occupation. [SEE ATTACHMENT.]
  • Inserting the need for a new foreign policy perspective in labor into the current debate on restructuring the Labor Movement.The war in Iraq has highlighted the failure of the labor movement’s foreign policy perspective to address the disastrous war in Iraq. While virtually every labor movement and government on earth has actively debated the meaning of the war, US labor at the highest levels has been largely silent. Meanwhile, our commander in chief used this unjust and costly war to win a second term and increase his attacks on workers’ rights and social justice in every form. MOREOVER, THE AFL-CIO AND ITS MEMBER UNIONS MUST HONESTLY CONFRONT AND REVERSE ITS OWN COMPLICITY WITH ANTI-LABOR FOREIGN POLICY, INCLUDING ITS PARTICIPATION IN PLOTS TO OVERTHROW THE DEMOCRATICALLY-ELECTED GOVERNMENT OF VENEZUELA, ITS SUPPORT FOR THE WAR AND OCCUPATION IN AGHANISTAN, AND ITS $5 BILLION INVESTMENT IN ISRAELI APARTHEID.

We now have an unique opportunity to draw lessons from the period leading up to the US presidential elections and to insert a different perspective on foreign policy into the AFL-CIO debate over the coming months. In fact, if  USLAW doesn’t we can be sure that no one else will. Due to the work of USLAW the war, in Iraq has been broadly debated within official labor circles, including national conventions-this is a tremendous step forward in an area that has historically been the province of national AFL-CIO and affiliate staff and a few national labor leaders.

USLAW will produce a concise document that seeks to draw out these points in a way that can be circulated amongst union leaders and within our own locals and organizations with the goal of helping to shape a new foreign policy in a restructured AFL-CIO.

This document could also be the basis for a range of educational activities ranging from town hall discussions to steward trainings and membership and board meetings. Through this we could seek to both build opposition to the war and to educate leaders and activists about the need for a broad opposition to the entire direction of foreign policy.

Appendix:  IFTU Collaboration With U.S. Occupation

Participation in Iraqi Puppet Regime

The IFTU has contact with and recognizes the transitional [US-backed Alawi] Iraqi government.

–Gene Bruskin, A Report on a USLAW‑British Labor Solidarity Visit ‘Opposing the War and Supporting Iraqi Unions,’August 4‑7, 2004 London England,‑USLAW%20report.pdf

IFTU enjoys the backing of the US/UK governments, as well the recognition and support of Allawi’s interim government. Any support or recognition offered to them will be a direct support for the government of Allawi and against the interests of the workers and people of Iraq.

–Houzan Mahmoud, For those who have an illusion about the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), August 20, 2004,

Sabotage of British Labor Party Antiwar Resolution

Stop the War, the broadest anti‑war mass movement Britain has ever seen. . . . is refusing to cosy up to an organisation [the IFTU] that masquerades as an anti‑occupation council of trade unions in Iraq. . . .

Abdullah Muhsin, the IFTU’s international representative, led the campaign to invite Allawi [to the U.K. Labor Party Conference] and pleaded with trade union and Labour delegates not to support the call for an early withdrawal of Britain’s forces. Despite his denials, his opposition to the conference resolution calling for an early date for withdrawal was published in the party’s daily briefing to delegates and was widely distributed in advance of the debate.

–Sami Ramadani, Collaboration won’t buy Iraq’s freedom, Guardian, October 27, 2004,,3604,1336687,00.html

Rejection by Iraqi Workers


I incurred [the IFTU’s] displeasure when I organised the itinerary for the US Labour Against the War delegation in October. I had included visits to both IFTU sites and Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI) (At the time called the Preparatory Committee for the Establishment of Workers Councils in Iraq), the Union of the Unemployed, which I had been protesting with in front of the occupation headquarters for weeks, plus un-unionised workers employed by the occupation. The IFTU reps tried to get me to cancel the visits I had planned for the FWCUI, denouncing it as a negligible organisation. I refused. And the USLAW delegation met as many workers as possible, in the oil sector, railway sector, vegetable oil factory, Baghdad Airport Military Base, brick workers, unemployed workers and leather factory employees. . . .

My agenda in Basra was to give as much information about the Occupation Orders passed against workers, ILO conventions and workers rights, and the history and profile of the companies privatising Iraq as possible. I wanted to work with workers as a grassroots level and help them in their struggle to form unions of their own choosing, free from any political party agenda influence. The IFTU leadership wanted me to go through them at every turn. I informed them that I was not in their pay or employment, I was an independent activist. An ICP member, in the offices of the IFTU, told me, coldly, to play ball or “get out of Basra”. I didn’t leave. They responded by spreading a rumour about me that my “mission was not clear”. When someone is “not clear” in Iraq, this is a euphemism for “suspicious” and marks someone as a potential spy. It is well known that such a rumour in paranoid Iraq can get someone killed. . . .

It is no wonder that more and more people, both within and outside Iraq, are viewing the IFTU, as it stands now, as an obstacle to genuine worker empowerment and direct, participatory democracy in Iraq and will oppose it, angrily and uncompromisingly.

–Ewa J., History Repeating Itself – the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, ICP and Iraqi Workers, October 31, 2004,

There are also individual unions such as the Basra oil workers union and the South oil workers union, both of which are strong unions that took part in a widely supported strike, stopping oil exports in protest at the US bombardment of Najaf in August. Both these unions don’t recognise the IFTU leadership as speaking on their behalf. Workers across Iraq are entitled to ask what did the IFTU leaders do to lift the siege of Najaf and Falluja and to stop the bombardment of the cities? . . .

I and many trade unionists in Britain of Iraqi origin, who opposed Saddam’s tyrannical regime for decades, were shocked and dismayed that most of the unions at the recent Labour party conference accepted the message from the ICP, IFTU leaders and other Allawi collaborators and voted against a resolution calling for the withdrawal of the occupation forces. This is tantamount to abandoning the Iraqi people to be crushed by the US tanks and cluster bombs. This is tantamount to abandoning solidarity with the workers and people of Iraq. The Iraqi people’s blood is as precious as that of the people of Europe who resisted the fascist forces, even if today the British Government and the US administration refuse to count the Iraqis they have killed and are continuing to kill. And Iraqi collaborators can be as treacherous and deceitful as any of the collaborators in Europe under the Nazi jackboot. For the Iraqi people in their besieged cities today, and for the thousands of tortured people at Abu Ghraib and other prisons, the US tanks, helicopter gunships and heavy bombs are no different from the Hitler’s forces in France or Albania.

–Sami Ramadani, Britain’s Trade Unions, the Occupation of Iraq and the IFTU, October 22, 2004, http://ww

2004.12.02: Solidarity With Palestinian Workers — Proposed Resolution to December 2004 USLAW Conference

[Not adopted]

Solidarity With Palestinian Workers
Proposed Resolution to December 2004 USLAW Conference
Submitted by Michael Letwin, USLAW Steering Committee Member
On Behalf of New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW)
December 2, 2004

USLAW condemns the Israeli government’s recent attack on the Workers Advice Center, a Palestine-based non-governmental organization that advocates labor rights for Palestine’s exploited Arab workforce [see attached].

Furthermore, USLAW will:

1. Participate in a U.S. labor delegation to examine the conditions of Palestinian workers, followed by a speaking tour at labor bodies and other locations to report on those conditions.

2. Organize discussion within USLAW of whether to join Labor for Palestine [see attached], and a growing number of religious bodies, to call for an end to U.S. government and AFL-CIO aid to Israel.


The Israeli Government is Trying to De legitimize and Dismantle the Workers Advice Center (WAC – Ma’an), Attack on Palestinian and Migrant Workers

Posted by: Admin on Nov 25, 2004 02:25 AM

Organizing Palestinian Workers Dear Friends,

The Registrar of Non Profit Associations (NPA’s) in Israel, Attorney Yaron Kedar, has decided to start procedures toward canceling the legal status of the Workers Advice Center (WAC, referred to as MA’AN in Arabic and Hebrew). He claims that WAC has not been acting in accordance with its stated goal: to defend workers’ rights. Rather, he says, “The NPA acted in cooperation with other NPA’s to advance the interests of the political party known as the ODA” (the Organization for Democratic Action – or Da’am in Arabic). He states, in particular, that WAC has served as a conduit of funds to the ODA.

These claims are unfounded. Since its registration as an NPA in the year 2000, WAC has been devoting all its energy and resources to advance the interests of under represented workers, especially Arabs, by organizing them into work teams, finding them jobs with construction companies, and representing them in their battles with Israeli bureaucracy. All of WAC’s financial records were provided to the Registrar. He did not find a single shekel that went from WAC, or through WAC, to the ODA.

The Registrar’s decision has no basis in fact, but it does have a historical and political background, which you will find in the supplements attached to this letter.

Yesterday, November 17, we at WAC established an Action Committee to Defend WAC. We are planning to conduct an intensive public campaign, local and international. In this letter we ask you to take part.
The legal procedure we face is this: The Registrar has given us 14 days to appeal against a fine of 30,000 NIS, levied to cover costs of his investigation. He has given us 30 days to decide whether we agree to accept a program of “recovery,” including a “chaperone” (whose salary would be paid by WAC). This person would accompany WAC until the registrar is satisfied that WAC has undergone reform. This procedure would mean, in effect, that WAC would lose its independence; its policy decisions would be directed by the Israeli Authorities.

If we refuse the recovery program (as we shall, since we have no illness from which to recover), the Registrar will go to court to persuade the latter to dismantle WAC. The Israeli Law of Associations defines the procedure for dismantling a registered association like WAC: the Registrar has to petition the District Court, and the burden of proof is on him. WAC will oppose his petition when it is filed (probably in January or even later).

Below you will find the following documents:

1. A press release

2. A background paper

3. Our letter to the ILO

4. A letter from the Spanish Union CC.OO (one of WAC’s donors) to Israel’s Ambassador in Spain. See also their website with the campaign they have opened on WAC’s behalf: Spanish Union CC.OO

5. A list of Israeli institutions that should be approached by organizations and individuals
These documents will give you the necessary background and tools to launch the campaign in your country.
We shall create a website on which to post these documents, along with news items on the struggle.
WAC is going through the most important battle of its existence. At stake are the rights of Arab and Jewish workers to organize!

Our basic plan of action is as follows:

1. To convene WAC workers for a general assembly of the organization.

2. To get the press to write about the case.

3. To publish a large petition in Ha’aretz (Israel’s newspaper of record) against the Registrar’s decision. The petition will include the signatures of local and international figures, including members of NGO’s (NPA’s), Trade Unions, organizations of law, people of law, human rights activists and all supporters of the case.

Soon people will be able to sign on our website, but the process can begin soon, when I will send you a final version. To publish the petition as a full page in Haaretz will cost $5000. We ask individual signers to pay between $15 30. We ask organizations to contribute between $200$ and $500, according to their means.

4. We shall publish a protest postcard, featuring a photograph of WAC’s workers, directed to the Minister of Justice. The postcard can be adapted by unions and organizations to their own language.

5. We will hold demonstrations and discussion panels. We shall involve other NGOs in the struggle.
What can you do?

* A] First, we would like to hear your opinions and suggestions.

* B] Each Israeli Embassy/Consulate should be put under the pressure of faxes, letters, delegations and pickets.

* C] Your letter of condemnation should be send to the Israeli authorities (see list below). A copy of your letter should be sent by fax/or e mail to: 972 3 6839148

* D] Your participation in the petition and postcard campaign will be important.

* E] Spread this mail to other organizations dealing with labor and human rights in your country. You can post the details of the campaign on your website.

* F] Conduct screenings of our documentary film, A Job to Win (50 Minutes) (We can supply versions in Arabic, Hebrew, English, and Galegan on demand). The video documents WAC’s struggle to organize Arab construction workers and put them back on the job. Your union/ organization/ group can take it upon itself to dub the film into your local language.

Please update us through this e mail address as to your actions and needs. We hope to work closely with you.

In struggle we shall win!

Roni Ben Efrat (Ms)
International Relations, WAC

Labor for Palestine

Dear Fellow Trade Unionists and Workers:

International solidarity, the right of national self determination, and social justice are among the most basic trade union principles. These principles have been reflected in labor opposition to the Vietnam War in the 1960s, in labor’s demand for divestment from South African apartheid and opposition to U.S. intervention in Central America in the 1980s, and to U.S. war and occupation in Iraq today.

Trade unionists who have taken these positions have often faced intense criticism. In response, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. expressed his support for the National Labor Leadership Assembly for Peace, by pointing out that, “[i]njustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. . . . Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”1

In that spirit, we ask you to join us in Labor For Palestine.

The establishment of Israel in 1948 inflicted on the Palestinian people a continuing campaign of displacement, discrimination, exploitation and brutality that has continued to this day. This includes:

* Displacement of over 750,000 Palestinians and the continuing refusal to allow over 5 million refugees to return home

* Deprivation of Palestinian human and civil rights, including discriminatory laws, home demolitions, and water and other resource theft;

* Apartheid like checkpoints and roadblocks that restrict freedom of movement;

* Denial of education and basic public services to Palestinian villages and to Palestinians within Israel (“Israeli Arabs”);

* Palestinians are denied access, lease or ownership to 91% of the lands occupied in 1948;

* Construction of illegal colonial settlements on land stolen and occupied by armed and violent settlers;

* Ongoing and brutal military occupation of Palestine, in which US made helicopters, fighter planes and weaponry are used daily to carry out murder and collective punishment;

* Harsh travel restrictions on Palestinians leading to massive unemployment and poverty;

* Construction of an apartheid wall (declared illegal by the International Court of Justice), that confiscates even more Palestinian land, and encircles Palestinian towns in a giant, 24 foot high prison studded with armed watchtowers;

* Ongoing incarceration of over 7,000 political prisoners, including children and political leaders, often in horrendous conditions, and the ongoing practice of administrative detention, in which Palestinians may be held without trial for six months or more.

These conditions have taken a particular toll on Palestinian workers. Last April, fourteen trade unionists from seven European countries found that:

“The majority of workers in Israel’s construction branch, including Palestinians, migrants and Israeli citizens (mostly Arabs), are still today subject to extreme forms of exploitation. The Israeli authorities lag behind legislation elsewhere in several ways: they refrain from ratifying recent labor conventions; they do not enforce their own labor laws; they exploit the excuse of ‘security considerations’ in a disproportional manner; they apply the law selectively; and they close their eyes to the criminality of the contractors and the personnel companies.”

Like any oppressed people, the Palestinian people have courageously resisted. For example, Palestinian workers have organized unions and labor organizations throughout Palestinian society, some of which have been devastated by the massive unemployment caused by closure and economic entrapment. Palestinian workers have consistently used the general strike as a tool of protest and struggle against occupation and oppression; in fact, the longest general strike in the world was that organized by Palestinian workers in 1936 against British colonialism.

For decades, this wholesale denial of Palestinian rights has been condemned by trade unionists around the world. Seeing the close parallels between Israeli and South African apartheid, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), has called upon the trade union movement internationally to mobilize its support behind the people of Palestine.2

In Britain, trade unionists have joined with Palestinian labor leaders and the Trade Unionists for Palestine to support Palestinian rights.3 Additionally, Irish trade union leaders, including those of SIPTU, a service and professional workers’ union, have condemned the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land and the oppression of Palestinians.4

Lastly, the World Federation of Trade Unions,5 an international body representing hundreds of millions of workers, has called for “immediate action to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their legitimate right to return and to self determination and to establish their national and independent state with Jerusalem as capital.”

In the U.S., however, government and private institutions including many labor bodies have actively contributed to this oppression:

* The U.S. government provides more aid to Israel than to any other nation in the world. This amounts to more than $5 billion annually, or a daily average of $15,139,178.

* This aid provides Israel with massive quantities of U.S. made Apache helicopters, F 16 fighter jets and assault rifles all of which is used to devastate Palestinian communities.

* Unlike the aid given to other nations, this aid is unrestricted by human rights conditions, and is paid in lump sum format annually.

* In addition, many individual U.S. states invest workers’ pension funds in the occupation of Palestine, an example of which is New Jersey’s recent purchase of $20 million in Israel Bonds.

* And shockingly, AFL CIO affiliate pension funds have over $300 million invested in Israeli bonds.6
It is clearer now than ever that Israel’s war on the Palestinian people reflects imperial domination throughout the Middle East. Indeed, it is virtually impossible to distinguish between scenes of occupation and resistance in Jenin, Falluja and Baghdad.

We, therefore, have a profound moral obligation to recognize and end the complicity of U.S. government and labor with Israeli apartheid.

For these reasons, the April 2004 convention of Al Awda NY (the Palestine right to return coalition) unanimously adopted a proposal by New York City Labor Against the War to ask all labor bodies to:

1. Fully support Palestinian national, democratic and labor rights throughout historic Palestine, including the right of all Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and land.

2. Demand an end to U.S. military and economic support for Israeli Apartheid.

3. Divest all labor investments in Israeli Apartheid.

4. Affiliate with Labor For Palestine.



2. sa.htm




6. For all of the above, see:;; and

Endorse Labor for Palestine!! (Zach Wales)

From: Zach Wales []
Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 2004 3:57 PM

Endorse Labor for Palestine!!

Greetings from Al-Awda New York/Labor for Palestine!

Labor For Palestine (LFP), a new campaign, is launching and
needs your support and involvement! If you are part of a
labor union or progressive social organization, please visit
the LFP web site ( and fill
out the online endorsement form. Endorsements are crucial to
the existence and effectiveness of this campaign. There is a
great deal of important and useful information available on
the LFP Web site.

Let me direct your attention to the “Labor in Palestine
link on the site, where you will find LFP’s first initiative
to defend the Palestine-based Workers Advice Center (WAC).
The WAC, which represents the rights of Arab workers, has
been shut down by the Israeli authorities and they (WAC)
need our solidarity and support!

Please endorse online!