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Debate On CTW's Non-Position On The Iraq War

From: Neal Bisno bisnon@seiu1199p.org
Organization: SEIU 1199P

A point of clarification is in order, on the nature of the CTW Coalition that Anna Burger (I for one have never seen or heard her referred to as Anna Burger Price) chairs.

This is a brand new formation of unions with varying political identities, coalesced around a commitment to the labor movement's growth. This objective is of course critical to the anti-war movement and all of other working class movements for peace and social justice, because a shrinking labor movement has less and less ability to influence US foreign policy or any other aspect of our national politics.

That being said, the CTW has at this point developed few structures for debating and deciding policy issues in any area, even issues related to its own internal operation and strucuture. It is really a work in progress dedicated to answering the question of how to launch innovative campaigns to organize millions of unorganized workers in key sectors of the US economy.

Comparing Anna Burger's comments regarding the CTW coalition's position on the war to racist politicians' pronouncements on states rights and slavery is a major cheap shot and demonstrates a thin understanding of the brief history and current structure of the coalition she leads.

Within her own union, SEIU, Anna Burger has played a critical role in moving support for USLAW. Without her work and support the resolution largely drafted and spearheaded by our local union endorsing the USLAW program and calling for an end to the war in Iraq would not have gotten debated and overwhelmingly passed at SEIU's last Convention in 2004.

The questions of how to promote a strong and clear labor voice against the war and overcome the official labor movement's reluctance to incorporate a critique of this illegal and disastrous war and occupation into its political work are important ones, but in pursuing that discussion it is important to understand the nature and structure of the CTW coalition before blithely and unfairly attacking public comments made by its leaders.

Neal Bisno
Pennsylvania's Health Care Union-SEIU District 1199P

______________________________________________________________ On Sat, 07 Jan 2006 tjohn1991@aol.com wrote:

As a point of information, CTW coalition chair Anna Burger Price - when asked about CTW's position on the most recent U.S. war and occupation - said the CTW did not have an official position. She said that CTW would leave the decision up to affiliates and locals, and then went on to say that a number of them had taken anti-war/occupation and pro-peace positions.

This abdication of responsibility by the leader of the second largest US labor federation is not the least bit surprising, but is absolutely disheartening: it smacks of the "states' rights" position during the slavery debate and/or the "vote your conscience" position of the current conservative leadership of the Democratic Party. It also flies in the face of the interests of the CTW and its membership.

The whole point of organizations, it seems to me, is to develop unified positions, based on the interests of the membership, and then work to see that those positions are promoted and become powerful enough to implement - or at least negotiate - into the mix of things.

The war/occupation of Iraq in particular and the militarization of the U.S. economy in general, referred to by Sam Weinstein (supporting more than 700 military bases in more than 130 countries) are financially bankrupting this nation for generations, undermining material living standards for all but the rich.

Not to mention human body county, destroyed families, ruined communities, pollution,immorality, indecency or abandonment of responsibility for each other (especially our class). All of that went out the door w/ the Bomb, the Cold War and the National Security State - which is now at its most pervasisve level and on the verge of yielding true totalitarianism. Side issues all in the official houses of labor. It's hard to figure which is worse: active censhorship or denial of reality.

Happy New Year

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