Antiwar Labor at NYC Protest
The estimated 500,000+ people who participated in yesterday’s New York City protest included the largest labor antiwar presence to date.
At 11 a.m., 1,000 or more trade unionists held a brief rally at 59 St. and Fifth Ave. Then, along with thousands of other protesters, they defied the city’s refusal to grant a permit by marching in the streets to the main rally on First Ave.
Meanwhile, a large 1199SEIU contingent gathered on First Ave., while many other union members arrived at the rally site in smaller groups.
Labor speakers at the main rally were Dennis Rivera, President of 1199SEIU; Larry Cohen, Executive Vice-President of CWA; and Brenda Stokely, NYCLAW Co-Convener and President of AFSCME DC 1707.
Below are media reports of antiwar labor’s participation in the massive protest.
**Washington Post, Feb. 16, 2003
Labor unions, too, took a big role. Five major national unions oppose the war.
“We are going to stop this war,” said Dennis Rivera, leader of SEIU 1199, a powerful health-care workers union that brought thousands of mostly black and Latino workers to the rally. “If they can march in Rome and Barcelona and London, we can march in New York, too.”
Boston Globe, Feb. 16, 2002
“We haven’t seen much widespread opposition like this to any American war at its beginning. I think you probably will have to go back to the end of Vietnam, when there were massive protests, and before that it was World War I,” said Michael Letwin, of New York City Labor Against the War. “Does that mean Bush will pay attention? They don’t want to listen to anybody. . . . Nonetheless, I think they may not have a choice.”
**NY1, Feb. 15, 2003
Thousands of union members from across the city also joined in with the crowds to oppose a war with Iraq.
“Union members are coming out by the thousands today because they are opposed to this war, as most Americans appear to be,” said Michael Letwin of the organization New York City Labor Against War. “Workers, I think, in particular know that it’s working people and poor people at home who are going to pay for the war. They’ll pay for it with their children in uniform, being the ones that die on the front lines. They’ll pay for it in terms of cuts in our social services and all the government spending that could go to union services at home but are going to war instead.”
[Full text: http://www.ny1.com/ny/TopStories/SubTopic/index.html?topicintid=1&subtopicintid=\
**Village Voice, Feb. 15, 2003
For Millicent Petersen, a unit clerk in a Long Island hospital who rallied with her union sisters and brothers from 1199-SEIU, “there’s just no purpose to this war that makes sense.”
[Full text: http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0308/solomon.php ]
NYC labor bodies endorsing the protest were:
**AFSCME DC 37
**AFSCME DC 1707
**AFT Local 3882
**APWU NY-Metro/Local 10
**Bergen Co. (NJ) CTLC
**CWA District 1
**CWA Local 1180
**Federation of Union Reps.
**IAM Lodge 340
**NJ Labor Against the War
**NJ Industrial Union Council
**NY Taxi Workers Alliance
**NY Teachers Against the War
**NYC Labor Against the War
**NWU/UAW Local 1981
**Org. of Staff Analysts
**PACE Local 1-149
**PSC-CUNY/AFT Local 2334
**TWU Local 100
**UAW Region 9A NYC
**UNITE Local 169
**UUP/AFT Local 2190
**Working Families Party