The House of Representatives has withdrawn the United States government from participation in the international Labor Organization because the ILO gave the Palestine Liberation Organization status in that United Nations affiliate as an observer. Supporting the position of the AFL-CIO, the House voted last Thursday to delete from appropriations to the State Department the funds to pay into the ILO. The cutoff is effective as of last June 12.
Rep. John Slack (D. W. Va.) and John Murtha (D. Pa.) led the fight to delete the funds. They were opposed by Reps, Elford Cederberg (R. Mich.) and Millicent Fenwick (R. NJ). Slack, who introduced the deletion legislation, pointed out that while observer status is non-voting and non-paying, it permits the PLO representation in ILO proceedings.
Slack pointed out that when the ILO admitted the PLO, the U.S. delegation, made up of representatives of government, labor and management walked out. The labor group said it would not return to that session. The U.S. funds 23 percent of the ILO budget.
The House vote was 21 – 8, less than a quorum. But since no member raised the point of the absence of a quorum or entered an objection, the ILO amendment was adopted.
STATE DEPARTMENT REGRETS ACTION
Cederberg argued he has “never been a real fan” of the ILO, but Secretary of State Henry A, Kissinger and others in the State Department explained to him that suspending U.S. funds to the ILO “at this time when we are carrying out these negotiations (in the Middle East) just adds another problem that we really do not need at this ti me,” Cederberg made much of Israel’s remaining in the ILO, saying “the reason” is that the Israelis “figure they can do more good within the organization rather than moving outside.”
Countering Cederberg, Murtha said “Congress has to exert itself” because the PLO should be condemned “especially after allegedly participating in the Munich massacre and proudly displaying this type of support for that type of action.” He said he hoped the House action would not “upset the delicate balance of negotiations (In the Middle East) but for too long we have delayed action and allowed the State Department to dictate to us what we should do. We control the funds. The only ability we have to condemn this organization is by cutting off the funds.”
Asked to comment on the House action, the State Department said it “regrets” the action since the ILO “is a highly useful organization.” Spokesman Robert Anderson noted that the U.S. had voted in the ILO against observer status for the PLO. The ILO, he observed, is for government, worker and employer representatives, and the PLO “has no government or recognized worker or employer groups” and “has no business to be taken up in the ILO.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.