M20 NYC Labor Contingent Report
March 22, 2004
By Michael Letwin, NYCLAW Co-Convener
The estimated 100,000 antiwar protesters who marched in New York City on March 20 included a strong and visible labor contingent of at least 500 trade unionists. Most of this contingent assembled for a brief rally at Bryant Park in midtown, before marching behind a solid line of labor banners that spanned the street’s width. A smaller component marched directly from the main rally site at Madison Square.
Hundreds of PSC-CUNY/AFT Local 2334 members made up the largest single labor component. Metro-area labor endorsers of the March protest included:
**1199ers for Peace & Justice
**AFL Local 802
**AFM Local 1000
**APWU NY-Metro/Local 10
**AFSCME DC 37
**AFSCME DC 1707
**AFSCME Local 1930/NY Public Library Guild, DC 37
**AFSCME Local 2627, DC 37
**Black Telephone Workers for Justice
**CWA Local 1180
**IWW-NYC-GMB; NJ Labor Against the War
**NY Taxi Workers Alliance
**NYC Labor Against the War (NYCLAW)
**NY Teachers Against the War (UFT)
**Postal Workers Against the War
**UAW Local 1981/National Writers Union
**UAW Region 9A NYC.
Also participating were individual members of other labor bodies, some from as far as Albany. The protest was also endorsed by U.S. Labor Against the War.
The main rally was addressed by labor representatives Brenda Stokely, NYCLAW Co-Convener and President of AFSCME DC 1707; 1199SEIU Vice President Carmenita Mahrs; and NYCLAW Co-Convener Ray Laforest.
Photos of the labor contingent are posted at: <http://f2.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/mletwin2001/album?.tok=phHil1AB4UsFvfFR&.dir=/\ f342&.src=ph> <http://photos.yahoo.com/jeffolshansky>
Labor’s participation on March 20 reflected ongoing NYC labor antiwar organizing that began immediately after 9/11. NYCLAW Year One (Oct. 25, 2002), <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1270>.
Last year, labor mobilization for February 15’s mammoth protest included a labor flyer ultimately endorsed by thirty metro-NYC labor bodies <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1486> and a February 12 labor press conference addressed by leaders of 1199, TWU 100, PSC-CUNY and other unions <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1488>. A 1,000-strong labor contingent <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1490> participated in the half-million rally, which was addressed by 1199 President Dennis Rivera, Brenda Stokely and CWA International Executive Vice-President Larry Cohen.
NYC labor also marched amongst the 250,000 who protested on March 22. <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1637>.
NYCLAW’s participation in March 20, 2004 planning began in December. In subsequent months, it strongly advocated a united demonstration co-sponsored by coalitions organized around International ANSWER and United for Peace and Justice. It also advocated adoption of military families’ demand to “Bring the Troops Home Now,” of the Arab-Muslim community’s call for opposition to the U.S.-sponsored occupation of Palestine, and of a specific slogan of defending labor rights.
By early February, these and other important issues were reflected in a joint statement agreed upon by the two coalitions <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1997>, with the express understanding that participating organizations would be free to emphasize the issues they saw fit.
Over the following six weeks, NYCLAW worked with others in labor to recreate and expand labor’s participation in the 2003 protests. This included circulation of a labor-oriented flyer that echoed the February unity statement, <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/2019>, enlistment of a growing number of labor endorsements, and ensuring labor’s presence on the speakers platform.
Upcoming labor antiwar organizing will be discussed at the next NYCLAW meeting, Monday, April 5, 6:30 p.m., at DC 1707 AFSCME, 75 Varick St., 14 Floor (1/2/A/C/E to Canal St.). For more information, contact: email@example.com or 917.282.0139.