U.S. Labor and the Viet-Nam War

U.S. Labor and the Viet-Nam War

U.S. Labor and the Viet-Nam War

U.S. Labor and the Viet-Nam War


Presents a comprehensive documentation of the steady growth of labor opposition to U.S. involvement in Vietnam, from a few voices in a minority of unions to a majority labor position.


The speaker was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Black civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner. The setting was the handsome headquarters of the Council for Continuing Education on the campus of the University of Chicago. The date was November 27, 1967. The occasion was the National Labor Leadership Assembly for Peace. The audience was composed of 523 leaders from 50 international unions in 38 states and hundreds of local unions across the country. Said Dr. King:

Tens of thousands of Americans oppose the war in Vietnam. Never before in our history has there been such a passionate and enormous popular resistance to a current war.

But one voice was missing -- the loud, clear voice of labor. The absence of that one voice was all the more tragic because it may be the decisive one for tipping the balance towards peace.

In order to understand why that voice was missing one must go back in our history over half a century before the United States became involved in the "dirty war" in Southeast Asia.

It will come as a surprise to many even inside the labor movement to learn that organized labor was an important force in the first anti-imperialist movement in American history. When it became clear during the Spanish-American War that the war launched supposedly to liberate Cuba was in actuality a brutal colonial war of conquest against the Cuban, Puerto Rican, and especially the Filipino people, many Americans joined in voicing opposition to the policy of military conquest. With few exceptions the labor move-

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