NEW YORK – Across the city and the nation there has been a surge of activity as unions, community organizations, churches and individuals organize for what is shaping up to be the largest mobilization yet against the Bush administration’s plans for war on Iraq.

“The demonstration is going to have a great effect, because the anti-war sentiment is just growing, and it’s no longer just the left, the activists,” said Thelma Markowitz of Northern Manhattan Neighbors for Peace and Justice. “People I’ve spoken to at work, who haven’t been involved in things like this before are talking about their fear of the war and how wrong they think it is. … I mention the Feb. 15 march, and they say ‘tell us about it – we want to go.’”

As the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1180 website makes clear, a significant part of the labor movement is leading the opposition.

“We’re making some special efforts through our organizing department, which I am driving, to put leaflets out into the field to let our members know that we need their participation – and why,” Charles Jenkins, assistant director of the Organizing Department for Transport Workers Union Local 100, told the World. “We’re mobilizing the same way we do for all our rallies: we do a series of phone banks, where we’re talking to our front line. That’s our shop stewards who are out in the locations and on the shop floors talking to members on various issues, but this is on the front burner.”

The preparations for the demonstration cut across all sectors of the city’s population. “We are working with Latino groups, tenants’ groups, and church groups,” Markowitz adds. “I think that the stereotype that the anti-war sentiment is all white has been changing – it is a stereotype. … I know at the most recent march in Washington, there’s been more diversity than there has been before, and I think that this particular war, and the concept of it is really antagonizing people of all colors.”

“We think we’ll have a respectable turnout,” said Bill Henning, vice president of CWA Local 1180, whose leadership put out a call in support of the Feb. 15, demonstration. “We think that it really resonates with our members because our members are on the front lines providing public services here in New York City, and they recognize that the war is not good for providing those public services, and it’s not good for the safety and security of New Yorkers who went through a criminal terrorist attack on Sept. 11. All indications are, including predictions by the Central Intelligence Agency, that this will just exacerbate and lead to heightened terrorist attacks.

“We have to really show the Bush administration that there is so much concern, that there is so much outrage … we certainly feel that any time you have massive demonstrations there is an effect,” Henning added.

Asked if he thought the action could change the policy of the Bush administration, Henning told the World, “we have to overcome this notion that war is inevitable. We think the administration is putting that line out, that war is inevitable. We obviously believe that it is not, and we think that we’ve already stayed the hand of George Bush and the people who want to go to war in Iraq – we’ve already done that. We can continue to stay their hand with a major turnout at demonstrations like Feb. 15.”

“We have to speak out, and this is something going on around the country, with mounted pressure, with mounted publicity,” Jenkins said.

United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) met with the city administration and NY Police Department on Feb. 4. At the meeting, the permit for a march was denied though the rally would be allowed at a site yet to be announced. The UFPJ is filing papers in Federal Court in New York City for the right to a march as well as a rally. For updates on the status of this struggle call (646) 473-8935 or go to www.unitedforpeace.org

On Feb. 16, the San Francisco rally will be held at 11 a.m. at Justin Herman Plaza with a march at 1 p.m. to the Civic Center for a rally. For more information call (415) 255-7296.

The author can be reached at dmargolis@pww.org

Comments

comments

MOST POPULAR