LaborTalk for July 1, 2011

For 5 Years, AFL-CIO Hasn't Mentioned
Iraq and Afghanistan on Its Web Site

By Harry Kelber

For the past five years, from 2006 to the present, AFL-CIO's official web site failed to publish a single story or provide information, about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a month-by -month survey of its archives revealed.

In the 2010 election, the AFL-CIO refrained from any mention of the two wars in its campaign literature, press releases and public statements, despite the fact that it was an important issue for millions of voters, including union households.

In the annual Memorial Day, ceremonies, while the troops were honored, there wasn't a word about the two wars in which they were risking their lives or dying.

No mention of U.S. involvement in Libya. Union members don't know that the Pentagon has already spent $664 million since the end of May and that the costs to the taxpayers are still rising.

Apparently, President Richard Trumka and members of the AFL-CIO Executive Council have informally concluded that the three wars are not a labor issue, and they have established a ban on discussion without a formal decree.

Can Our Leaders Explain Their Silence on the Wars?

From a pragmatic view, the sooner the wars end and our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are brought home, there will be billions available for creating jobs, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and repairing the safety nets for the poor, sick and elderly.

The Nation, a progressive weekly, estimates: "If Obama withdraws just half of the 100,000 troops in Afghanistan between now and 2012, the savings will be $50 billion per year. If he keeps his pledge to pull the remaining 47,000 troops from the forgotten war in Iraq, that would amount to another $50 billion a year."

With a majority of Americans favoring an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, what reasons do our leaders have in remaining silent and withholding information?

* * * * *

By their silence, AFL-CIO leaders are giving a "blank check" to the White House and the Pentagon to make deals, on Iraq and Afghanistan, without regard for the views and needs of working people.

What we have lost in the two wars in lives and treasure will certainly be an issue in the 2012 election. Will the AFL-CIO continue to remain silent, as if those two 10-year wars had never occurred?

If our leaders have found nothing to say about the wars in the past five years, they should not force their silence on union members.

LaborTalk will be posted here on July 5, 2011 and on our two web sites and on

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