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From: NYCLAW nyclaw@comcast.net
To: LaborAgainstWar laboragainstwar@yahoogroups.com

*[FYI, the following messages address NYCLAW's dissent from
USLAW's January 6 statement about the death of Hadi Salih,
an official of the Iraq Federation of Trade Unions.]

From: Michael Letwin [NYCLAW Co-Convener & Member of USLAW
Steering Committee]
Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2005 12:19 AM
To: Michael Eisenscher, USLAW Steering Committee

My criticism of USLAW's statement on Hadi Salih was not
motivated by "ideological" prejudice; in fact, NYCLAW
cosponsored (and I co-chaired) the main USLAW Iraq labor
tour forum in New York City, at which 250 people donated
$800, some of it for the IFTU (see below*). I would
certainly have not have objected to USLAW's statement on
Hadi Salih, had it simply condemned his assassination,
pointed out that "[t]he ultimate source of violence in Iraq
is the US occupation," and demanded "Bring the troops home

What I did object to was the attempt to whitewash the IFTU's
collaboration with the very war and occupation that USLAW
was created to oppose.  This was reflected in the
statement's misleading assertions that, "[t]he Iraqi
Federation of Trade Unions calls for the end of the
occupation and the US war," that "US Labor Against the War
shares [Salih's] vision of a peaceful and progressive Iraq,"
that "Hadi Salih was killed because of his commitment and
dedication to making Iraq a democratic and progressive
country," and that the Iraqi resistance assassinated Salih
in order "to terrorize Iraq's labor movement, and other
parts of its civil society, to keep them from seeking any
peaceful means of gaining political power in the interest of
its working people."

In reality, the IFTU reflects the views of the "[t]he Iraqi
Communist Party (ICP) [which] totally supports the client
regime of Iyad Alawi and has one senior and two junior
ministers in his cabinet. The ICP equates the armed
resistance with fundamentalist terrorism, and thereby
approves the suppression of the resistance."[1] Both the ICP
and IFTU remained silent as the U.S. obliterated Falluja.[2]

As reported to the USLAW conference in December, the IFTU
blocked an "Out Now" resolution at the British Labor Party
conference in October, where it "was not merely supportive
of the continued military occupation of his country, but
could also be read as supportive of the original invasion of

Just a few days ago, "[i]n collaboration with the [Iraqi
Petrochemical and Plastic Manufactures Company]
administration, [the IFTU] threatened workers with sacking,
jailing and killing to force them call off a strike
organized early this month. They justified these oppressive
actions by referring to resolutions passed by Alawi's
government, which ban union activity and install IFTU as the
only legal union."[4]

As one commentator recently observed, "[t]he giving over of
some executive positions to the leaders of the Communist
party of Iraq, or the recognition of the trade union linked
to this party (IFTU) is a price the Pentagon and CIA are
prepared to pay for their support in repressing the
resistance. . . . By signing into this policy, groups such
as the [Iraqi Communist Party] show either ignorance or

Ewa Jasiewicz, who helped facilitate USLAW's 2003 delegation
to Iraq, reports "that more and more people, both within and
outside Iraq, are viewing the IFTU, as it stands now, as an
obstacle to genuine worker empowerment and direct,
participatory democracy in Iraq and will oppose it, angrily
and uncompromisingly."[6]

Thus, Jasiewicz questions whether Salih's assassination
(which she too condemns), "is related to his activities as a
Union organiser." Rather, she believes that Salih may have
been killed because "there is no neutrality or security for
a trade union federation which is so enmeshed with a
political party [the Iraqi Communist Party] which is
collaborating heavily with the occupation in Iraq and
remaining silent on the massacres being perpetrated daily
against the civilian population there."

Contrary to your claims, many SC members had neither seen
USLAW's statement on Salih before it was publically issued,
nor were we informed that it would whitewash the IFTU. That
portion of the statement may have reflected the views of its
drafters. But it did not reflect an above-board, democratic

I also disagree with the attitude that, "[r]ather than
impune [sic] our motives, you ought to be asking yourself
why you stand so much alone."

First, in raising the issues above, I criticized politics
and process, not your motives.

Second, NYCLAW does not always stand alone within USLAW. For
example, USLAW's founding meeting on January 11, 2003
adopted NYCLAW proposals for the organization's name and
points of unity, while the national conference on October
25-26, 2003 adopted its proposals to retain that name and to
demand "Bring the Troops Home Now."

In any case, standing alone is certainly no disgrace. And
minority views should not be met with personal attack or


1. Ardeshir Mehrdad, Between Iraq's Colonialist and Islamist
Quagmire the "Third Way" Is Hard But Possible, Iran Bulletin
Middle East Forum, November 2004
http://www.payvand.com/news/05/jan/1171.html .

2. Sami Ramadani, Britain's Trade Unions, Iraq's Occupation,
the IFTU and the ESF, October 23, 2004
http://www.labournet.net/ukunion/0410/iraqtu1.html .

3. The Stop the War Coalition and the IFTU, October 11, 2004
http://www.stopwar.org.uk/article.asp?id=111004 .

4. Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions-IFTU Helps Alawi's
Government to Crack Down on Workers' Protests in
Petrochemical and Plastic Company in Baghdad, January 10,
2004 http://www.uuiraq.org/english/130.htm.

5. Mehrdad, note 1, above.

6. Ewa J., History Repeating Itself - the Iraqi Federation
of Trade Unions, ICP and Iraqi Workers, October 31, 2004


From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Saturday, February 21, 2004 10:42 PM
Subject: Report on Iraq Labor Rights Tour, NYC

Report on Iraq Labor Rights Tour, NYC
Submitted by Michael Letwin (NYCLAW) and Nancy Romer
(PSC-CUNYAFT Local 2334)

The NYC tour leg was highly successful.

On February 2, David Bacon, Clarence Thomas and Gulf War vet
Michael McPhearson (Bring Them Home Now!) spoke to a full
house of about 250 people in the 1199 SEIU auditorium.  The
meeting was opened by 1199 representative Patrick Loman, and
was co-chaired by Barbara Bowen (President, PSC-CUNY) and
Michael Letwin (NYC Labor Against the War).  USLAW, NYCLAW
and other materials were distributed, and the audience was
encouraged to participate in upcoming actions on February 24
and March 20. Approximately $800 in donations were
collected.  The meeting flyer, which lists sponsoring labor
bodies, is attached. A published report of the meeting
(which mistakenly lists NYCLAW as the sole sponsor) is
posted at:

On February 3, Bacon and Thomas were interviewed on by Amy
Goodman on WBAI and on the labor radio program hosted by
Bill Henning (CWA Local 1180). That evening, Bacon spoke to
about 150 people at the Queens College-CUNY Labor Resource

Donations at and sign-in sheets have been forwarded to
USLAW's D.C. office.


From: Michael Eisenscher
Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 9:44 PM


I'm sorry that Salih's assassins were so inconsiderate as to
torture and kill him the night before the SC call.  Our
objective in getting the statement out ASAP was to put USLAW
clearly on record condemning assassination of trade
unionists as a legitimate means of opposing the U.S.
occupation.  Notice of the assassination was sent to the
Steering Committee at 9:45 a.m. PST on January 5, with
announcement that draft of a statement would be forthcoming
prior to the call.  The statement was sent to the SC at
12:53 p.m., more than three hours prior to the start of the
call in hopes that everyone would have a chance to review it
and raise any issues they might have during the call.  When
no one did, we issued the statement in order that it would
be timely in light of the nature of the crime.

The IFTU is on record calling for an end to the occupation.
(For example, see the statement by Abdullah Muhsin on
November 4, 2004 at
Hadi Salih said just that during his presentation to the 
ICFTU conference in Japan only weeks ago.  In his remarks, 
he said, "War does not serve the people of Iraq. Occupation
doesn't help democracy."

You are allowing your ideological view to color your
perception of the situation.  There is no justification for
assassinating union leaders no matter what their politics.
The FCWUI recognized that instantly and issued a statement
immediately condemning the torture and murder.

I have yet to hear from you one word of condemnation of the
torture and assassination of Hadi Salih.  Would you prefer
that USLAW remain silent in the face of this crime?  If so,
your view is a distinctly minority one in the Steering
Committee and in the larger labor antiwar movement.  Hadi
Salih, whatever your criticisms of his political views,
suffered prison and torture, then exile at the hands of
Saddam Hussein.  He put his life on the line and lost it in
the struggle to rebuild the Iraqi labor movement.  I figure
that earns him respect on the part of all those who claim to
champion labor's cause, whatever their politics.

The fact that the capitalist media chooses to lump all
opponents of the U.S. occupation into the category
"Resistance" should not hide the fact that there are a wide
range of groups involved in resisting the occupation - some
with arms and others without arms.  That Ba'athist elements
and religious fascists do so with arms does not mean that we
ought to embrace them as legitimate fighters for the
autonomy, self-determination and national integrity of the
Iraqi people.  Those who embrace these elements and their
"by any means necessary" posture, in my view, are as
opportunistic and irresponsible as they claim the IFTU is by
participating in the political process in play in Iraq.  It
costs them little hurling their charges from the safe and
secure borders of the U.S., England, or other parts of the
imperialist world, while those who struggle within the
borders of Iraq have everything at risk.

USLAW's statement makes it quite clear that we demand an
immediate end to the occupation.  We said: "The ultimate
source of violence in Iraq is the US occupation. The Iraqi
Federation of Trade Unions calls for the end of the
occupation and the US war.  Salih's murder does not bring
this end one step closer.  Instead, it seeks to terrorize
Iraq's labor movement, and other parts of its civil society,
to keep them from seeking any peaceful means of gaining
political power in the interest of its working people."

Nothing I've heard from you or others who share your view
causes me to want to change one word of that.  No one but
you on the Steering Committee raised a word of objection.
Rather than impune our motives, you ought to be asking
yourself why you stand so much alone.

Yours in solidarity,
Michael Eisenscher


From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Sunday, January 09, 2005 6:19 PM
To: Michael Eisenscher; USLAW Steering Committee

I didn't see USLAW's public statement concerning Hadi Salih
(IFTU) until after the conference call.

As reported to the USLAW conference (and referenced below),
the IFTU is a member of the U.S. occupation regime, in which
role it recently obstructed an "out now" resolution at the
British Labor Party conference (see below).  So why did
USLAW issue the statement that, "[t]he Iraqi Federation of
Trade Unions calls for the end of the occupation and the US
war"?  And why -- given the open controversy on this issue
at the conference -- was a statement issued in USLAW's name
without any prior discussion or authorization by the
Steering Committee?


From: U.S. Labor Against the War [mailto:uslaw@igc.org]
Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2005 12:40 AM

USLAW Condemns the Murder of Hadi Salih

Hadi Salih, International Officer of the Iraqi Federation of
Trade Unions, was a courageous union activist.  His
assassination in Baghdad yesterday is a crime against Iraq's
working people and its labor movement.  The cowardly manner
of his killing - he was shot in his bed - is intended to
send a message to Iraq's workers and trade unionists - that
their efforts to participate in any peaceful process of
political change will be met with death.  We stand in
solidarity with the IFTU in rejecting this brutal

Hadi Salih was killed because of his commitment and
dedication to making Iraq a democratic and progressive
country, building a society in which its people can lead
safe and secure lives, with full employment at a decent
standard of living.  US Labor Against the War shares his
vision of a peaceful and progressive Iraq, and sends its
condolences to his family and fellow workers.

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