Statement: NYC Labor Against War

Against the Current, No. 95, November/December 2001

SEPTEMBER 11 HAS brought indescribable suffering to New York City’s working people.  We have lost friends, family members and coworkers of all colors, nationalities and religions—a thousand of them union members.  An estimated one hundred thousand New Yorkers will lose their jobs.

We condemn this crime against humanity and mourn those who perished.  We are proud of the rescuers and the outpouring of labor support for victims’ families.  We want justice for the dead and safety for the living.

And we believe that George Bush’s war is not the answer.  No one should suffer what we experienced on September 11.  Yet war will inevitably harm countless innocent civilians, strengthen American alliances with brutal dictatorships and deepen global poverty—just as the United States and its allies have already inflicted widespread suffering on innocent people in such places as Iraq, Sudan, Israel and the Occupied Territories, the former Yugoslavia and Latin America.

War will also take a heavy toll on us. For Americans in uniform—the overwhelming number of whom are workers and people of color—it will be another Vietnam.  It will generate further terror in this country against Arabs, Muslims, South Asians, people of color and immigrants, and erode our civil liberties.  It will redirect billions to the military and corporate executives, while draining such essential domestic programs as education, health care and the social security trust.

War will play into the hands of religious fanatics—from Osama bin Laden to Jerry Falwell—and provoke further terrorism in major urban centers like New York.

Therefore, the undersigned New York City metro-area trade unionists believe a just and effective response to September 11 demands:

  • NO WAR.  It is wrong to punish any nation or people for the crimes of individuals—peace requires global social and economic justice.
  • JUSTICE, NOT VENGEANCE.  An independent international tribunal to impartially investigate, apprehend and try those responsible for the September 11 attack.
  • OPPOSITION TO RACISM—DEFENSE OF CIVIL LIBERTIES.  Stop terror, racial profiling and legal restrictions against people of color and immigrants, and defend democratic rights.
  • AID FOR THE NEEDY, NOT THE GREEDY.  Government aid for the victims’ families and displaced workers—not the wealthy.  Rebuild New York City with union labor, union pay, and with special concern for new threats to worker health and safety.

Signers (all affiliations and titles listed for identification only) include:

Larry Adams, President, National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 300

Barbara Bowen, President, Professional Staff Congress—CUNY/AFT Local 2334

Arthur Cheliotes, President, CWA Local 1180

Michael Letwin, President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325

Brenda Stokely, President, AFSCME Local 215, DC 1707

Jonathan Tasini, President, National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981

The statement was also signed by over 150 other local union officers and rank-and-file members.

from ATC 95 (November/December 2001)