Kathy Black, a convener of US Labor Against the War (USLAW), told a union reception in Sydney on February 29 that she is proud that the organisation has brought workers into the anti-war movement, remarking that "this was the first time that labour has been organised against a foreign invasion and occupation".
Black is a Philadelphia-based occupational health and safety director at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. She has an impressive activist CV, having spent the last three decades in various roles in the US union movement.
She has also been active in Labor Against Apartheid, the Living Wage Coalition and the Campaign for Contraceptive Coverage. Black is currently one of six national co-convenors of USLAW and is the Philadelphia president of the Coalition of Labor Union Women.
Black described how USLAW began in 2003 and developed a mission statement calling for a just foreign policy and an end to US occupation of foreign countries; redirecting the nation's resources away from military spending to meeting the needs of working people; support for the troops and their families; protecting workers' rights, civil rights, civil liberties and the rights of migrants; and solidarity with workers and their organisations around the world.
USLAW has toured several Iraqi unionists, including from the oil and electricity unions.
One important message of Black's tour is opposition to the US-driven oil privatisation law in Iraq. This was passed by the Iraqi cabinet a year ago but has not been approved by the parliament due to overwhelming opposition among Iraqi people. USLAW helped organise international solidarity actions on February 22-23 to defend the rights of Iraqi people to maintain sovereignty over their oil resources.
Black, who has been brought to Australia by the Sydney Stop the War Coalition, is addressing union and anti-war meetings across the country. Her main public forum in Sydney is at 4pm, March 8 at the Tom Mann Theatre along with Simon Flynn, NSW secretary of the Fire Brigades Employees' Union.