Report on March 23 NYC and Oakland Labor Protests
March 23, 2002
The following are reports on parallel labor demonstrations concerning the war that took place Saturday, March 23 in New York City and Oakland, CA.
Some 350-400 people attended the Day of NYC Labor Solidarity with Immigrant Detainees who have been held following September 11. The event supported ongoing weekly protests by immigrant, civil liberties and peace organizations at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park, where many of the detainees are held.
On March 14, Amnesty International reported that “a significant number of [foreign national] detainees [held since September 11] continue to be deprived [by the U.S.] of certain basic rights guaranteed under international law. These include the right to humane treatment, as well as rights which are essential to protection from arbitrary detention, such as the right of anyone deprived of their liberty to be informed of the reasons for the detention; to be able to challenge the lawfulness of the detention; to have prompt access to and assistance from a lawyer; and to the presumption of innocence.”
Yesterday’s event began with a diverse and spirited march led by labor banners from 5 Ave./9 St. in Park Slope. A rally outside the jail heard brief statements from: Norman Siegel, Freedom Legal Defense and Education Project; Debbie Almontaser, Arab-American Family Support Center; Michael Letwin, Pres., Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW L.2325; Co-Convener NYC Labor Against the War (NYCLAW); Martha Cameron, Justice for Detainees; Subash Khateel and Monami Maulik, DRUM (Desis Rising Up And Moving); Dr. Mansoor Khan, Help and Hope; Larry Adams, Pres., Mail Handlers Union L.300; Co-Convener, NYCLAW; Gary Goff, Recording Secretary, AFSCME L.2627, DC 37; Chaumtoli Huq, Counsel, New York Taxi Workers Alliance; Barbara Bowen, Pres., Professional Staff Congress-CUNY/AFT L.2334; Saul Nieves, Political Action Dept., SEIU L.32B-J; J.P. Patafio, Depot Chair, TWU L.100; Hank Sambach, Exec. Bd., NY Public Library Guild/AFSCME L.1930; Brenda Stokely, Pres., AFSCME L.215, DC 1707; Co-Convener, NYCLAW; and (via e-mail) the Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace and Justice, which held a similar rally yesterday in Oakland, CA (see below).
Additional labor sponsors included: AFSCME L.1407, DC 37; Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, NYC Branch, PAC Cttee.; Communication Workers of America, L.1180; Legal Aid Society Chap., 1199/SEIU; National Organization of Legal Services Workers/UAW L.2320; National Writers Union/UAW L.1981; Organization of Staff Analysts; Pride at Work/NYC (AFL-CIO); SEIU NY State Council; UAW Region 9A NYC Area CAP Council; UNITE Amalgamated Services & Allied Joint Bd.; United Elec., Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE); US Health Trade Union Cttee. Martin Fishgold, Pres., Metro NY Labor Communications Council; Robert Lesko, V.P., AFT L.3882; John O’Connor, Secy.-Treas., AFM L.1000; Dennis O’Neil, Legislative Dir., NY Metro Area Postal Union, APWU L.10; Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN, Chair, Delegate Assembly, NYS Nurses Assn.; Joel Schwartz, Pres., CSEA/AFSCME L.446; and Maf Misbah Uddin, VP, DC 37, Pres., AFSCME L.1407
Media present at the rally included WBAI radio, Channel 13 (PBS), German and Japanese TV.
Newsday coverage: http://www.newsday.com/news/local/newyork/ny-nyprot0324.story
Daily News coverage: <http://www.nydailynews.com/2002-03-25/News_and_Views/City_Beat/a-145443.asp>
Excerpted from a report by Michael Eisenscher, Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace and Justice:
The Labor March for Justice in Oakland yesterday was quite successful. We had hoped to draw between 300-400 and probably got something between to 300-350.
The march was led by the ILWU drill team (all African Americans). We had large contingents of immigrant workers (mostly Latinos), with a smaller number of Filipinos and fewer still Middle Easterners. We also had a delegation of Japanese union members, who happened to be in town for a meeting, march with banners in Japanese and English. A racially and ethnically diverse contingent marched from POWER representing welfare/workfare workers. Folks participated from all the cosponsoring unions and worker organizations.
We marched the short distance from our assembly point at 13th and Broadway (main thoroughfare in downtown Oakland) into the City Center to the Federal Building where we had a few short speeches. Then we marched (on the sidewalk so that we did not require permits) about a mile to Jack London Square to our rally site overlooking the port. The Freedom Song Network provided music.
We had about a dozen speakers, including the Secretary-Treasurer of ILWU Local 10, the husband of the fired Palestinian Macy’s worker, airport screeners, folks from POWER, a restaurant worker from HERE Local 2850, someone who spoke about US troops in the Philippines, immigrant speakers in Spanish, a spokesperson for the Japanese delegation, etc. We read a greeting from the NYC Labor Against the War. Our MCs were Zev Kvitsky, Vice President of SEIU 715; and Andrea Dehlendorf, Organizing Director at SEIU 1877 (Janitors). Principal officers from a number of local unions attended.
Speeches covered the range of issues arising out of the impact that the ‘War on Terrorism’ has had on various communities, on the threat to civil liberties, and on U.S. foreign policy and military involvement throughout Asia and the Middle East. There could be no doubt this was an anti-war gathering, not just a protest about domestic impacts.
There were a number of media folks present, including the Oakland Tribune, at least one or two TV stations, alternative press and KPFA, and reporters from a couple of ethnic community papers.
Oakland Tribune coverage: <http://www.oaklandtribune.com/Stories/0,1002,1726%257E483919,00.html>