The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] Labor Rights in Iraq

[ Converted text/html to text/plain ]

Interview with Amy Newell on the International Campaign
for Labor Rights in Iraq

[Note: The following are brief excerpts from an
interview with Amy Newell, national organizer of US
Labor Against War (USLAW), that was published June 19 in
France by Informations Ouvrieres (Labor News), the
weekly newspaper of the French Workers Party (PT)

The interview was conducted by François Forgue, a
reporter with Informations Ouvrieres (Labor News). The
French Workers Party is a supporter of the International
Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples (ILC), the
labor coalition that initiated the international
campaign for labor rights in Iraq.]

Question: Tell us about the document on the U.S.
corporations awarded contracts in Iraq that was produced
by US Labor Against War.

Amy Newell: In mid-May, Daniel Gluckstein of the
International Liaison Committee (ILC) came to
Washington, DC, to meet with the co-conveners of USLAW
and to discuss what role USLAW could play in promoting
the international campaign for labor rights in Iraq. The
co-conveners came up with the idea that we could assist
this campaign by preparing a report on the U.S.-based
multinational corporations that are getting the
contracts to "rebuild" -- that is, privatize -- Iraq.

We felt it was important that the workers of Iraq know
what we know about these corporations -- their labor
records, their ties to the Bush administration, their
histories of scandals and corruption -- so as to help
them in their efforts to organize these corporations and
build the unions of their choice.

Of course, this is only a preliminary text -- it's a
work in progress. We put it together in a little over
than two weeks. [Note: You can download a copy of this
36-page report for free from the USLAW website at[1] . Hard copies can be obtained
for $5 from USLAW, P.O. box 153, 1718 M St., NW,
Washington, DC 20036.]

We were extremely pleased to be able to release this
report in Geneva over the weekend of June 14-15, both to
the 130 delegates from 30 countries attending the 10th
Annual ILC Conference in Defense of ILO Conventions and
to the 400-plus labor representatives who make up the
Workers' Group of the International Labor Organization
(ILO). Not only did our report and participation in
Geneva help to initiate this campaign for workers'
rights in Iraq, it helped to establish an international
labor network of unions interested in organizing these
companies on a global scale.

Clearly many of the corporations we have profiled also
have operations in dozens of other countries around the
world. Workers in many of these countries may be
experiencing the same kinds of problems we are
experiencing with Halliburton, Bechtel, SSA, MCI and all
the other corporations. Our text, we believe, can be use
of use to them in their own organizing efforts.

Question: What link do you see between this campaign for
labor rights in Iraq and the overarching issue of the
U.S.-British occupation of Iraq?

Amy Newell: Clearly, you cannot have trade union rights
without basic democratic rights. The appeal issued by
the trade unionists in Geneva for this labor rights
campaign explicitly condemns the illegal occupation of
Iraq. A statement issued by the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) makes the
point that democracy has to have roots in the people,
and the best way to do that is to have strong and
independent trade unions; they are the anchor of

Question: Working people around the world, especially
the most militant and organized components of the
working class, were very impressed that important
sections of the organized trade union movement in the
United States came out against the U.S. war on Iraq. And
they were doubly impressed when US Labor Against War,
the coalition that spearheaded the struggle against the
war within the U.S. labor movement, requested broad
labor support for its International Labor Declaration
Against the War on Iraq and held an international press
conference on February 19th with unions representing
more than 130 millions workers from 53 countries.

How do you and USLAW see the relationship between your
work in the United States and the international trade
union movement, and what do you think can be done next
to build this international labor movement against war?

Amy Newell: We believe that U.S. labor must be part of
the broader international labor movement against war --
for peace and social justice. That is why we initiated
the campaigns you speak about.

Our main task, though, remains to build broader support
for our USLAW message among the rank-and-file workers in
our own country. The first thing we will want to do is
use our USLAW "Corporate Profiles" document to educate
workers in the United States -- our own union members --
about the corporate rip-off that is going on in Iraq. We
didn't just prepare this report for everybody else, we
are going to use it as an educational and organizing
tool in the United States. We think it will open the
eyes of a lot of workers to the true purpose of this war
-- which was not to promote democracy or destroy weapons
of mass destruction, as Bush claimed, but rather was
aimed at promoting the privatization of Iraq by Bush's
corporate cronies.

Where do we go from here?

We are pleased that our "Corporate Profiles" document
will be translated into Arabic and many other languages.
This will make it a truly international campaign for
labor rights -- not only in Iraq, but globally. Also in
Geneva, we proposed organizing an international labor
delegation to Iraq with the aim of gathering facts about
the state and needs of the workers in Iraq. We will want
to be part of this delegation and to build support for
it widely among working people in the United States.

Tired of spam? Get advanced junk mail protection[2] with MSN 8.


Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]