AuthorBacon, David

Editor's Note: We're delighted to share the first of a six-part series from the archives of photographer David Bacon that will appear online at A former union organizer, Bacon has for thirty years, in his photographs and writing, captured the courage of people struggling for social and economic justice around the world. His images are now part of the Special Collections in Stanford University's Green Library.

In early 2003, as people began to realize that the Bush Administration intended to invade Iraq, hundreds of thousands of protesters filled streets around the world. I joined them as an activist opposed to a war that seemed inevitable, and as a photographer documenting movements for peace and human rights.

These marches included people from many labor unions, including my own--the Newspaper Guild of Northern California (now the Pacific Media Workers Guild), CWA Local 39521. The involvement by workers led to the formation of U.S. Labor Against the War, which quickly grew to include labor organizations and activists from around the country. One of the first questions on our minds was how the war would impact Iraqi workers. We knew the country had one of the oldest and most radical labor movements in the Middle East, driven underground by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Six months after the U.S. launched its invasion on March 20, 2003, U.S. Labor Against the War asked me--and labor leader Clarence Thomas, of the International Longshore Workers Union--to go to Baghdad and get some answers.

With the help of activists in several unions, I was able to visit Baghdad's refinery and several factories. In each workplace, workers had reorganized unions that had been...

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