US labor protests crackdown in Poland

American labor, which has strongly supported the Polish Solidarity movement from its start, is rallying nationwide union support for the independent trade union and for its leaders, including Lech Walesa.

Hastily organized rallies in Washington and New York Dec. 14 protested martial law in Poland, the arrests of union leaders, and the use of police and troops to break strikes and ''sit-ins'' by workers at steel and other plants.

In Washington, where 250 labor leaders gathered at AFL-CIO's headquarters, Martin J. Ward, chairman of the federation's International Affairs Committee, said, ''We are outraged.''

In New York, more than 100 officials and union members picketed the Polish consulate. Michael Mann, AFL-CIO regional director, said, ''We're here to show the Polish Communist government that we don't like what they're doing, and to condemn their action in throwing labor leaders into jail because they want to have a free labor movement.''

AFL-CIO has given moral and material support to the Polish workers. It raised more than $250,000 to provide office and printing equipment requested by Polish unions, and helped to rally international aid for Solidarity. The Soviet and Polish communist press has charged US labor was interfering in the internal affairs of another country and fomenting rebellion.

There is no doubt that AFL-CIO has embarrassed the Warsaw government. When US labor officials were invited to visit Solidarity's first convention, the Polish government refused to admit them to the country.

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