LaborTalk for June 17, 2011

AFL-CIO Says U.S. Wars Aren't
An Issue for American Labor

By Harry Kelber

AFL-CIO leaders have decided that the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not an issue that the labor movement should be concerned with.

To implement that unofficial decision, they have banned any news and information about the two wars from appearing on the AFL-CIO web site, including all printed matter and public statements under their direct control.

That injunction also applies to the United States' involvement in Libya, about which the AFL-CIO is maintaining its continuing silence.

In compliance with the AFL-CIO ban, most, if not all, labor publications, have avoided providing any war news, leaving union members to rely on the business-controlled media and television channels for daily reports.

The AFL-CIO apparently will extend the ban on war news to its 2012 election campaign, as it did two years ago, antagonizing a large section of union voters who have family members, friends and neighbors risking their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By blotting out the war as a labor issue, the AFL-CIO is giving the Obama administration a blank check to take whatever actions it wishes in our name, without our approval.

Why should we surrender our right to be heard, after investing hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives in ten years of war?

Money for Jobs? We Spent It on Wars

The cost of ten years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan is $1.2 trillion—and continuing, according to the Pentagon.

For the first week of U.S. intervention in Lybia, the cost to taxpayers was more than $600 million. U.S. warplanes dropped 455 precision-guided bombs on Libyan targets, each costing tens of thousands of dollars. The costs in that undeclared war is $2 billion a month, and there's no end in sight.

Yet, our labor leaders don't seem to be worried about what the gargantuan costs of war are doing to the American economy and the living standards of working people. They still insist that the wars are not an issue for the labor movement.

* * * * *

Both Congress and the White House can easily ignore any AFL-CIO demand that they create a massive public works program to provide jobs for the millions of unemployed. "We simply don't have the money to create those jobs," they can say, "especially since the U.S. is struggling with an enormous federal deficit."

So what is the response of AFL-CIO leaders? Do they have any solutions about creating jobs? Or do they simply want to shut down debate and continue their policy of avoiding problems by resorting to their habitual silence?

LaborTalk will be posted here on June 21, 2011 and on our two web sites and on

Powered by