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Public Employee Press

Forum speakers: war is a union issue


ANTIWAR forum April 13, from left: Local 2627 2nd VP Gary Goff, Speakers Nancy Romer and Jose Vasquez, and Local 1930 President
Lynn Taylor.

“Lies start wars.” “Bring our troops home.” “War No. Union Yes.” These button slogans pinned proudly on union members’ lapels highlighted the position of many unions at an anti-war forum held April 13 at DC 37.

“We are not Anti-American, we are anti-war,” said New York Public Library Local 1930 President Lynn Taylor.

“I am a United States soldier and I recently applied for conscientious objector status,” said panelist Jose Vas-quez, a member of Local 1199 and of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He and Nancy Romer of U.S. Labor Against the War explained the impact the Iraq War is having on the nation, New York City, the mothers, fathers, daughters and sons on the front lines and their families at home.

The speakers called for three major steps to be taken immediately: withdrawal of troops from Iraq, better psychiatric and medical care for veterans, and reparations for people affected by the war.

The forum, co-sponsored by Local 1930 and Electronic Data Personnel Local 2627, was part of the union’s preparations for the nationwide war protest that was set for April 29 in New York City. A veterans’ forum was scheduled for April 28.

DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts has consistently spoken out against the war. In 2003, the Delegates Council, the union’s highest governing body, established the union’s position against the war and in support of the troops — the stance held by 57 percent of Americans. The delegates recently endorsed the April 29 demonstration.

“Every dollar spent on this war is money taken away from us and the services we provide,” said moderator Gary Goff, 2nd vice president of Local 2627. “Big corporations are making obscene amounts of money from no-bid contracts while Americans pay for the war with higher taxes, escalating national debt and the lives of our loved ones.”

“It’s no secret that recruiters target children of working families and have made this a “poverty draft of the working class,” Vasquez said. Forum participants noted similarities between veterans of Iraq and Vietnam, who were influential in ending that war.

To change American foreign policy, people need to get out the vote and elect new political leadership in November’s congressional races, Romer said.

“War is a legitimate union issue,” she added. “This war is sophisticated, complicated. It shrinks our rights and cuts into the money for our pay increases. War is anti-worker, but the enemy is not the soldier — it is the government policy.”

— Diane S. Williams

 


 

 
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