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Yesterday, another federal court repealed all restrictions on NYPD political spying.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