Visiting Portland next week -- according to flyers handed out at the recent rally in front of Senator Gordon Smith's offices held as part of the Rural Organizing Projects "March for Truth and Justice" from Salem to Portland -- will be two unnamed "Iraqi labor union leaders," as part of an AFL-CIO sponsored "Iraqi Labor Tour 2005." |
Recently, radical labor activists have raised alarms about AFL-CIO's intentions and alliances in connection with Iraq. The AFL has a very sordid history internationally during the Cold War of directly assisting the goals of US imperialism, supporting rightwing regimes, remaining silent at the plight of workers under them, and sabotaging radical labor organizing at home and abroad.
The US occupiers, under the regime of the US appointed Iyad Allawi, as one of its first actions passed a Decree Number 16, declaring something called the "Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions" (IFTU) to be the one legal union federation in the country. The IFTU has no elections and has organized no workplaces. It is a union in name only, and seems to be comprised of various opportunists seeking political advancement, some of whom are former union organizers. It has sent representatives to various gatherings in the West, such as meetings of antiwar activists within the British Labor Party, to prevail upon them not to pass resolutions demanding the immediate ending of the occupation. Its representatives, claiming to act in the name of Iraqi workers, have issued statements condemning the insurgency and calling for the continuation of the US occupation until "order" is "reestablished."
These statements have been strongly condemned by actual union activists on the ground in Iraq. To quote from a piece by Lee Sustar on Counterpunch:
In a visit to Britain in February, GUOE leader Hassan Jumaa forcefully denounced the occupation in a speech reprinted in the Guardian. "Those who claim to represent the Iraqi working class while calling for the occupation to stay a bit longer, due to 'fears of civil war,' are in fact speaking only for themselves and the minority of Iraqis whose interests are dependent on the occupation," he wrote.
I direct the following questions to the organizers of the "Iraqi Labor Tour 2005," whose local Portland sponsors are listed as: Oregon AFL-CIO; ACORN; AFM 99; AFSCME Council 75; AFSCME locals 3336, 88 3580 189 and 328; AFT locals 2277 and 3922; Ainsworth United Church of Christ; American Association of University Professors -- PSU; APWU Local 128; Bilal Mosque Association; Clark, Skamania, Klickitat Central Labor Council; CWA Local 7901; Education without Borders; Environmental Jutice Action Group; First Unitarian Church Social Justice Council; Freedom Socialist Party; IAM Local 1005; ILWU 8; Jews for Global Justice; Islamic Center of Portland; Jubilee USA Network -- Oregon; KBOO; LIUNA local 296; Muslim Community Center NE Portland; National Associaion of Letter Carriers Local 82; Northwest Oregon Labor Council; Oregon ACTION; PAT; PAW--OR; Peace and Justice Works/Iraqi Affinity Group; Phsicians for Social Responsibility -- Oregon; Portland Alliance; Portland Jobs with Justice; Portland Peaceful Response Coalition; PSU DEPT of Women's Studies; PS DEPT of Sociology; PSU Dept of Economics; PSU Associated Students; Radical Women; SEIU locals 49 and 503; Sisters in Action; St Andrew's Catholic Church; Students for Unity--PSU; United Steelworkers District 11 and Local 163; Veterans for Peace.
Who are the Iraqis that the organizers of this tour are bringing to Portland? What are their intentions? And why aren't their names and organizational affiliations being given? Do the organizers and hosts themselves know who these people are and what their agenda is? Inquiring minds want to know.