Monthly Archives: February 2003

2003.02.26: New York City Council Hearings On An Antiwar Resolution (NYCLAW)

NYCLAW Testimony at NY City Council

NY Post, March 5, 2003

COUNCIL KOOK-FEST

They lent their voices – some whiny, some paranoid, others simply clueless or ill-informed – in support of a wildly divisive proposal to have the New York City Council adopt a resolution opposing war with Iraq. . . . After a while, cries for everything from affordable housing to a living wage competed with talk of war. Michael Letwin, of New York City Labor Against the War, seized the opportunity to wield this humdinger: “The threat to the people of the United States is not Iraq, it’s our government.”

[ Full text: http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/69958.htm ]

———————————

New York City Council
Hearings On An Antiwar Resolution

Testimony of Michael Letwin
Co-Convener, NYC Labor Against the War
Former President, UAW Local 2325/Assn. of Legal Aid Attys.
February 26, 2003

My name is Michael Letwin. I am Co-Convener of NYC Labor Against the War, and Former President of UAW Local 2325/Association of Legal Aid Attorneys.

We are here in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s courageous opposition to the Vietnam War, and we are not alone.

In the United States, unions with at least 5 million members–one-third of organized labor–have come out against the Bush administration’s war on Iraq, and the number grows every day.

In New York City alone, some 30 labor bodies with approximately half a million union members endorsed the massive February 15 antiwar protest in New York City. These included some of the largest unions and labor bodies in the city: 1199SEIU, AFSCME DC 37 and 1707, CWA District 1, PSC-CUNY, TWU Local 100, UAW Region 9A and the Working Families Party With or without UN approval, this war is a weapon of mass distraction–from oil, from U.S. empire, and from a crumbling economy at home.

It will further victimize the Iraqi people, who have suffered horribly through ten years of U.S. war and sanctions.

Working people in this country will pay: with our sons and daughters in uniform; with destruction of our social services; with unprecedented attacks on labor, civil and immigrant rights; with further blowback from terrorist attacks.

The threat to working people isn’t Iraq, but our own government.

Nothing makes this clearer than recent events right here in New York.

The Bush administration’s plan to spend hundreds of billions to control Iraqi oil, together with massive tax cuts for the rich, has nearly bankrupted our state and city. The Bloomberg administration is slashing human services and tells municipal workers–like poorly-paid day care workers–to forget about raises.

One federal court upheld the city’s blatantly unconstitutional denial of a march permit for February 15, and the same week another federal court repealed restrictions on NYPD political spying. These rulings reflect a broad attack on civil liberties, immigrant and labor rights–all under the guise of 9/11.

Labor’s message to this Council is simple: No War–No Way.

2003.02.14: Regime Change Begins At Home (NYCLAW)

Regime Change Begins At Home
NYC Labor Against the War-February 14, 2003

Bush’s war on Iraq isn’t about “weapons of mass destruction”-the U.S. can’t even prove that Iraq has any. And who has more WMD than the U.S.?

It isn’t for “self defense”-Iraq hasn’t attacked us.

It isn’t to support the U.N.-the U.S. pays Israel billions of dollars each year to violate U.N. resolutions that guarantee Palestinian rights. And Israel already has nuclear weapons.

It isn’t for “democracy”-for years, the U.S. armed Hussein (and Osama bin Laden). U.S. allies include numerous dictatorships, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Colombia.

In reality, Bush’s war is a “weapon of mass distraction”-from oil profit, from U.S. empire, from corporate thievery and from a crumbling economy at home.

As Nelson Mandela puts it, Bush and his cronies “just want the oil.”

This war can’t be made right. Not by Bush. Not by the U.N.

We need to ask ourselves some hard questions:

What have the Iraqi people ever done to us?

Fifty eight thousand G.I.s-most of them working class and people of color-were killed in Vietnam. Are we ready to pay for this war with the blood of our sons and daughters in uniform?

With destruction of our social services?

With zero wage increases?

With Bush’s attack on labor, civil and immigrant rights?

With more blowback like 9/11?

In 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. refused to remain silent about the Vietnam war and “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today-my own government.”

We have the same obligation. Regime change begins at home.

We also have the power to stop this war.

When G.I.s refused to fight in Vietnam, the U.S. war machine ground to a halt.

Several weeks ago, British railway workers refused to drive trains loaded with weapons for war against Iraq.

And U.S. labor is beginning to speak out. Unions with more than five million members-one third of organized labor-have already come out against the war. U.S. Labor Against the War was founded in January.

Thirty NYC area labor bodies have endorsed today’s massive antiwar protest.

If you believe that labor must stand up against the war, contact: nyclaw01@excite.com, or at NYCLAW, Prince Street Station, PO Box 233, New York, NY 10012 3900.

2003.02.12: NYC Labor Antiwar Press Conference

NYC Labor Antiwar Press Conference
February 12, 2003

My name is Michael Letwin. I am Co-Convener of NYC Labor Against the War, and Former President of UAW Local 2325/Association of Legal Aid Attorneys.

With me today are leading members of New York City-area labor, including:

**Dennis Rivera, President, 1199SEIU
**Roger Toussaint, President, TWU Local 100
**Barbara Bowen, President, PSC-CUNY
**Bill Henning, Second V.P., CWA Local 1180
**Julie Kushner, Sub-Regional Director, UAW Region 9A
**Jonathan Tasini, President, National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981
**Carol Gay, NJ Labor Against the War; V.P., NJ Industrial Union Council

Also with us is a special international guest, Mike Marqusee, who represents the UK Stop the War Coalition and National Union of Journalists

We are here in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s courageous opposition to the Vietnam War, and we are not alone.

In the United States, unions with at least 5 million members-one-third of organized labor-have come out against the Bush administration’s war on Iraq, and the number grows every day.

In New York City alone, some 25 labor bodies with approximately half a million union members have endorsed the massive February 15 antiwar protest in New York City.

With or without UN approval, this war is a weapon of mass distraction–from oil, from U.S. empire, and from a crumbling economy at home.

It will further victimize the Iraqi people, who have suffered horribly through ten years of U.S. war and sanctions.

Working people in this country will pay: with our sons and daughters in uniform; with destruction of our social services; with unprecedented attacks on labor, civil and immigrant rights; with further blowback from terrorist attacks.

The threat to working people isn’t Iraq, but our own government.

Nothing makes this clearer than recent events right here in New York.

The Bush administration’s plan to spend hundreds of billions to control Iraqi oil, together with massive tax cuts for the rich, has nearly bankrupted our state and city. The Bloomberg administration is slashing human services and tells municipal workers-like poorly-paid day care workers-to forget about raises.

On Monday, a federal court upheld the city’s blatantly unconstitutional denial of a march permit for February 15.

Yesterday, another federal court repealed all restrictions on NYPD political spying.

These rulings reflect a broad attack on civil liberties, immigrant and labor rights-all under the guise of 9/11.

So we are here today to say that we are opposed to this war, and that we will fully exercise our right to peacefully protest this Saturday.

2003.02.05: NYCLAW Speech at Times Square

Presented by Michael Letwin, NYCLAW Co-Convener

Bush’s war on Iraq isn’t about “weapons of mass destruction”-the U.S. can’t even prove that Iraq has any. And who has more WMD than the U.S.?

It isn’t for “self-defense”-Iraq hasn’t attacked us.

It isn’t to support the U.N.-the U.S. pays Israel billions of dollars each year to violate U.N. resolutions that guarantee Palestinian rights. And Israel already has nuclear weapons.

It isn’t for “democracy”-for years, the U.S. armed Hussein (and Osama bin Laden). U.S. allies include numerous dictatorships, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Colombia.

In reality, Bush’s war is a “weapon of mass distraction”-from oil profit, from U.S. empire, from corporate thievery and from a crumbling economy at home.

As Nelson Mandela puts it, Bush and his cronies “just want the oil.”

This war can’t be made right. Not by Bush. Not by the U.N.

We need to ask ourselves some hard questions:

What have the Iraqi people ever done to us?

Are we ready to pay for war with the blood of our sons and daughters in uniform-most of them working class and people of color?

With destruction of our social services?

With zero-wage increases?

With Bush’s attack on labor, civil and immigrant rights?

With more blowback like 9/11?

In 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. refused to remain silent about the Vietnam war and “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today-my own government.”

We have the same obligation. Regime change begins at home.

We also have the power to stop this war.

When G.I.s refused to fight in Vietnam, the U.S. war machine ground to a halt.

Several weeks ago, British railway workers refused to drive trains loaded with weapons for war against Iraq.

And U.S. labor is beginning to speak out. Unions with more than five million members-one-third of organized labor-have already come out against the war. U.S. Labor Against the War was founded in January. Thirty NYC-area labor bodies have endorsed today’s massive antiwar protest.

If you believe that labor must stand up against the war, contact: nyclaw01@excite.com, or at NYCLAW, Prince Street Station, PO Box 233, New York, NY 10012-3900.

2003.02.05: Demonstration in NYC after Colin Powell Presents Bush Administration’s Case Against Iraq to the UN Security Council

http://www.grassrootspeace.org/NYCFeb0503/pages/P1010030.html

February 5, 2003 – Demonstration in NYC after Colin Powell Presents Bush Administration’s Case Against Iraq to the UN Security Council. / P1010030
Photos copyright Charlie Jenks, 2003
2/7/03
Traprock Peace Center, 103A Keets Road, Deerfield, MA 01342; 413-773-1633; fax 413-775-7507
charles@mtdata.com
Previous Home Next
P1010030
Ramsey Clark and Michael Letwin. Michael, who invited Jeremy Corbyn, MP to speak at the Jan. 18 DC rally, is with Labor Stop the War in NYC. It was bone chilling cold.

2003.02.01: $25,000 Pledged to Build Group Labor Leaders Launch National Anti-War Effort

http://labornotes.org/archives/2003/02/c.html

Labor Notes, February 2003

$25,000 Pledged to Build Group
Labor Leaders Launch National Anti-War Effort

by Al Benchich
President, UAW Local 909 February 2003

“We here in this room have an historic opportunity to stop this war from happening.” With these words Bob Muehlenkamp, one of ten convenors, opened the “National Meeting of Labor Organizations and Officials Opposed to U.S. War in Iraq,” January 11 in Chicago.

Over 100 representatives of central labor councils, ad-hoc labor committees against the war, and local unions from across the country met to discuss a unified labor strategy against the Bush administration’s move towards a pre-emptive war. In attendance were representatives from such local unions as AFSCME, AFT, ILWU, SEIU, Teamsters, HERE, and the UAW.

During the course of the day-long meeting, held in the historic Teamsters Local 705 hall, delegates exchanged resolutions against the war passed by various labor bodies and reported on union activities and strategies used to pass these resolutions.

A pre-meeting tabulation counted 42 local unions, 13 district or regional bodies, 5 national unions, 12 central labor councils, and 5 state federations who had passed anti-war resolutions, but discussion at the meeting revealed that actual numbers were far higher.

Speakers such as Michael Eisenscher, coordinator of the Labor Committee for Peace and Justice in the Bay Area, David Cortwright of the Win Without War coalition, and Bill Fletcher of TransAfrica and the United for Peace Coalition gave presentations on topics such as: strategies for getting local and international unions to take a stand against the war; prospects for war and peace using the United Nations; and a perspective on what the move to war is really about.

By the end of the day, after a long and spirited discussion, the group had chosen a name–U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW), passed a resolution, and agreed to form labor contingents at the anti-war marches in Washington and San Francisco the following weekend.

A continuations committee was created, and over $25,000 in operating funds was pledged from various unions towards the creation of a $50,000 anti-war chest.

DIFFERENCES IN APPROACH

Two different resolutions were presented for consideration, with supporters of each feeling that theirs addressed the issue in a way that would garner greater support from workers and unions. Debate centered on whether to address such issues as the role of the U.N., the legitimacy of inspections, and statements regarding patriotism and U.S. militarism.

“We have no quarrel with the ordinary working class men, women and children of Iraq, or any other country.”

Gene Bruskin, secretary-treasurer of the Food and Allied Service Trades FAST) division of the AFL-CIO and a co-convenor of the meeting, introduced a resolution drafted by the convenors. Michael Letwin of New York City Labor Against War introduced an alternative from the floor, on behalf of a number of participants, that was modeled after the resolution passed by Teamsters Local 705.

The resolution presented by Bruskin was longer (13 whereas’s) and included arguments for the responsibility of union leaders to address the war issue and why Iraq did not pose a threat. It addressed U.N. inspections and international law. The alternative resolution was shorter and simpler, focusing more on the fact that American workers have no quarrel with the Iraqi people and that the war would take billions of dollars from social needs, serving as a distraction from economic problems and attacks by the Bush administration on working people in this country.

After long and sometimes heated debate, the alternative resolution was adopted with amendments that incorporated some of the elements of the first resolution. (A reference to the role of oil profits was deleted without discussion.) While many were not completely satisfied, the resolution passed unanimously in a show of solidarity.

NEXT STEPS

Participants agreed that the most important next step was to get more labor organizations on board with the aims of USLAW, with a goal of obtaining the endorsement of 200 unions and principal officers. (Until USLAW has a website, endorsers of the USLAW resolution can forward their endorsements to NYCLAW01@excite.com.)

The continuations committee was instructed to link USLAW with the existing anti-war movement, develop a website and educational materials, and solicit funds.

A further step not discussed at the meeting would be to elect a national steering committee, to ensure that decisions are made democratically.

———-

WE ESTABLISH U.S. LABOR AGAINST THE WAR

WHEREAS, over 100 trade unionists from 76 local, regional and national unions, central labor councils and other labor organizations (see details below) representing over 2 million members gathered in Chicago for an unprecedented meeting to discuss our concerns about the Bush administration’ s threat of war; and

WHEREAS, union members and leaders have the responsibility to inform all working people about issues that affect their lives, jobs and families, and to be heard in the national debate on these issues; and

WHEREAS, the principal victims of any military action in Iraq will be the sons and daughters of working class families serving in the military who will be put in harm’s way, and innocent Iraqi civilians who have already suffered so much; and

Whereas, we have no quarrel with the ordinary working class men, women and children of Iraq, or any other country; and

Whereas, the billions of dollars spent to stage and execute this war are being taken away from our schools, hospitals, housing and Social Security; and

Whereas, the war is a pretext for attacks on labor, civil, immigrant and human rights at home; and

Whereas, Bush’s drive for war serves as a cover and distraction for the sinking economy, corporate corruption and layoffs; and

Whereas, such military action is predicted actually to increase the likelihood of retaliatory terrorist acts; and

Whereas, there is no convincing link between Iraq and Al Qaeda or the attacks on Sept. 11, and neither the Bush administration nor the UN inspections have demonstrated that Iraq poses a real threat to Americans; and

Whereas, U.S. military action against Iraq threatens the peaceful resolution of disputes among states, jeopardizing the safety and security of the entire world, including Americans; and

Whereas, labor has had an historic role in fighting for justice; therefore

We hereby establish the “U.S. Labor Against the War” (USLAW)”; and

Resolve that U.S. Labor Against the War stands firmly against Bush’s war drive; and

Further resolve that U.S. Labor Against the War will publicize this statement, and promote union, labor and community antiwar activity.