S.F. Labor Council Opposes War Drive

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Posted by on September 25, 2001 at 17:44:50:


1) San Francisco Labor Council Statement on the Tragic Events of September 11, 2001 (adopted on Monday, Sept. 24, 2001)

2) San Francisco Labor Council Endorses September 29 Antiwar Rallies (resolution adopted on Monday, Sept. 24, 2001)

3) Former ILWU President Brian McWilliams' Remarks on the Tragic Events of September 11, 2001 (presented to the ILWU Pacific Coast Pensioners Association Convention in Seattle, Wash., on September 18, 2001)



[Note: The following statement was adopted by the S.F. Labor Council at its delegates meeting on Monday, September 24, 2001. The statement was submitted to the Labor Council by the Executive Board of OPEIU Local 3. It was adopted following one friendly amendment from the floor.]

The San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO) joins the nation and the world in mourning the devastating loss of life resulting from the vicious attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as well as the crashed plane in Pennsylvania. We condemn the criminality of those attacks and those responsible.

Many of those killed were union members and other workers killed on the job. Our hearts go out to our sisters and brothers and their loved ones. We particularly honor the rescue workers who continue to risk their lives to save others.

No one, in this country or any other, should suffer the fate of the victims in these attacks. We demand that the perpetrators of these crimes be brought to justice. The United States has a responsibility to establish with irrefutable facts the identity of those who were behind these attacks. The tragic attacks of September 11 should be treated as a heinous crime rather than an act of war.

As we mourn this tremendous loss of life, we declare our resistance to efforts to use this tragedy to engage in military actions that can lead only to more carnage and senseless loss of life. We reject the idea that entire nations should be punished for the actions of a few. Bombing raids and military strikes will only fuel an endless cycle of revenge that can only bring the deaths of more innocent civilians, both here and around the world.

In the face of such sorrow, we urge all people, particularly members of the labor family, to stand united against prejudice, hatred and intolerance wherever it arises. Within our own borders, we call upon all in our communities to join us in immediately confronting any anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, anti-Sikh or other anti-immigrant hate speech or acts of violence, whether in our neighborhoods, our workplaces, or in the media. We strongly oppose efforts to curtail the rights of immigrants and refugees, including expulsion of suspect foreign nationals without due process.

We also declare our resistance to efforts to use this tragedy to curtail our civil liberties. Militarization of our society inevitably leads to erosion of civil liberties and workers' rights. We must remain vigilant in the defense of our democratic principles, including the protection of our civil liberties. Already proposals have been put forward to allow increased federal surveillance of private activities, and there is a strong push for greater use of racial profiling. In the past, national security has often been used to justify interference with our rights to freedom of association, to organize, to strike and to picket. We must redouble our efforts to fight for justice, and must not allow those who oppose our goals to use a national crisis as an excuse to assault our civil and economic rights.

We encourage open discussion as to the origins of this crisis and the most appropriate response to the atrocities that have taken place - particularly about the need for a foreign policy that is based on economic and political justice.

A century ago, Samuel Gompers, first President of the AFL, said that labor wants more justice and less revenge. Our greatest memorial to our fallen sisters and brothers will be a world of peace, justice, tolerance and understanding, underscored by the solidarity of working people.


2) San Francisco Labor Council Endorses September 29 Antiwar Rallies

[Note: The following resolution was adopted by the S.F. Labor Council at its delegates meeting on Monday, September 24, 2001. The resolution was submitted by NALC delegate Dave Welsh.]

Resolved: That the San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO, endorse the mass anti-war rallies scheduled for Saturday, September 29, 2001, at the White House in Washington, D.C., and in San Francisco and Los Angeles, joining community leaders, the Rev. Cecil Williams and family members of those who perished, to a) Mourn the victims; b) Stand together with our brothers and sisters who are victims of violence and scapegoating; c) Defend our civil liberties and stop the drive toward war in the Middle East -- under the banner "War and Racism are not the Answer."


3) Former ILWU President Brian McWilliams Speaks Out on the Tragic Events of September 11

[Note: Following are the remarks presented by former ILWU President Brian McWilliams to the morning session of the 2001 ILWU Pacific Coast Pensioners Association Convention in Seattle, Wash., on September 18, 2001. Brother McWilliams is a member of the Executive Board of the San Francisco Labor Council. He was a keynote speaker at both the Western Hemisphere Workers Conference in November 1997 and the Open World Conference in February 2000.]

Thank you for the opportunity to share this time with you. It warms my heart to see so many of my old friends. Of course, you know that I'm no longer involved in developing policy for our union, but I would like to talk with you about the recent events that are so troubling for all of us and how we respond as workers.

First, we must condemn the senseless acts of violence perpetrated against innocent people, just like we have throughout history. And the perpetrators need to be sought out and brought to justice.

But let us not be too quick to judge the terroristic acts of others without taking a thorough look at our government's acts of aggression, passive and otherwise, against our fellow citizens of the world. Issues of sufficient importance for this union to make strong policy statements about for the simple fact that, by any standards, they constitute violent acts against workers and could only be seen as terrorist acts by most of those on the receiving end.

We have challenged regularly the wisdom of the U.S. government policies resulting in the Cuban blockade, Korea, Iraq, Vietnam, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Chile - where CIA involvement in the assassination of their democratically elected leader fell on the same day, September 11, as last week's bombing.

Apartheid in South Africa, racial profiling, racism and poverty in our own country all induce terror in those on the receiving end. Not to compare these acts with what just happened in NY, but to realize that there is a tremendous amount of suffering brought upon people, and as long as people have to suffer the consequences of these acts of aggression, the more hurt and anger will be left steeping in their hearts.

And if we can't, as a nation, see the wisdom in following the road to peace, one of the first victims of a heightened militarism will be our civil liberties. It is our job to guard against national security programs being used as an excuse to exploit working people. It's not hard to imagine that new laws will threaten to curtail union organizing, picket lines, and public gatherings, while surveillance of citizens, racial profiling, and union busting go unchecked.

Peace must be our goal if people on the bottom are not to pay the highest price. We can start towards achieving peace by being peaceful.

And an even greater threat than losing our civil liberties is the potential for us to fall victim to the intolerances of internalized bias. Of course, we will continue to fight against the misled patriotism of ignorance that pits us as workers against each other. And remember that racism is not patriotic in any situation. What a tragedy the indiscriminate targeting of Americans has become, yet another form of terrorism, perpetrated by Americans on Americans.

Blind belief in the tenets of a government and all of its actions without any critical thinking is mistaken by many as patriotism. In truth that diminishes us as a people and leads to the kinds of ignorant and blatantly racist and violent acts and military aggression we are beginning to read about in the papers.

This must be stopped. That innocent American working families are the target of hate crimes and discrimination in any form has always been condemned by this ILWU.

But that is not enough. Each of us must help carry the torch of justice and tolerance and peace, and clearly and aggressively respond to such injustices wherever they may be in a way that truly represents our philosophy that an injury to one is an injury to all.

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