DULUTH, Minn.: Freighters iced in: Peace marchers free

Lake Superior shipping is locked by ice and -13 degree weather but on January 25, 3,000 residents filled the streets of this port city demanding peace with Iraq.
Families and contingents from local unions, active and retired iron ore miners, religious groups, professionals, doctors and lawyers, seemed to appear from nowhere, organizers said. With all their organization banners fluttering, the groupmarched five blocks to the Federal Building for a short rally.

A representative from the Duluth Central Labor Council told the crowd that working people in the U.S. and Iraq would suffer most in war, while oil corporations would profit. Unions distributed signs to marchers saying, “Make jobs, not war.”

The week before the march, hundreds of people signed a full-page ad, sponsored by a dozen groups, calling for no war in Iraq and supporting the demonstration.

WEEKI WACHEE, Fla.: Peace vigil threatened

A group of neighbors, 50 strong, stood at the corner of U.S. 19 and state route 50, February 1, holding their hand made signs protesting the pending U.S. war with Iraq. This is first peace demonstration of any kind in Hernando County.

“I am here because I just don’t like war,” said Nettie Lange. “I just can’t see us going into this war when we don’t have all the facts.”

The manager of the nearby Eckerd Drug Store, where the neighbors had parked their cars, threatened to have them towed. For the entire two-hour demonstration, three Hernando County cops parked next to the group.

Lange and her neighbors plan to stay on the corner every Wednesday until the crisis with Iraq is peacefully resolved.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.: People say peace & health care

President Bush planned on the people to be a friendly prop for his announcement of his health care plan but an estimated 1,000 people in this conservative Midwest city greeted him with anger and a spontaneous protest march demanding peace with Iraq and quality health care for all.

The march shut down city streets and lasted two hours. Residents, inspired by their demand for peace and justice, flooded all four lanes of traffic.
Local police tried to prevent demonstrators from marching, but the size of the demonstration and the spirit of peace flowed past yellow tape and police lines.

NEW HAVEN, Conn.: All aboard New Haven peace train

With the February 15 peace demonstration as their destination, over 1,000 residents have already reserved their seats. Train tickets can be obtained from Promoting Enduring Peace, (203) 878 – 4769, or e-mail: office@pepeace.org.

The City of New Haven Peace Commission will hold a public hearing Feb. 19 on the local impact of the Bush military budget.

The city’s Board of Aldermen overwhelmingly passed two resolutions, one that opposed U.S. military action against Iraq and another that rejected attacks on the civil liberties of citizens and non-citizens.

COLLEGE PARK, Md.: Professionals sign up for the union

“This is a chance to sit across the table from university administration and negotiate as equals,” said jubilant new union member Betty Wineke. Wineke is only one of a 1,000 support professionals, information technologists, counselors and other white collar workers, at the University of Maryland who will now enjoy union protection.

On January 22, they voted to join United Professionals, a division of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

In the first 25 days of 2003, 10,510 workers on a wide variety of jobs joined the union, according to the AFL-CIO.

BUFFALO, NY: If we don’t fight for our kids, who will?

New York State children are facing the Albany budgetary axe and they, their parents and teachers are ready to fight.

At a press conference, the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) hammered Governor Pataki’s proposed 2003 budget, which would cut education funding by $1.2 billion. Funding for class size reduction, universal pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten programs would be totally eliminated.

“We’re on a pathway to the total destruction of public education in New York State,” said JoAnn Cole of the Western New York AQE.

A cross state march is in the works to rally support for public education, funding for higher education, as well as a legislative campaign.

KINSTON, N.C.: Explosion at drug company kills four workers

This rural town in Lenoir County, population 60,000, is mourning the deaths of four of their neighbors who died when the West Pharmaceutical Company, a medical equipment corporation, blew up. Nine workers remain in critical condition.

An investigation is underway to identify the cause of the explosion. West Pharmaceutical is non-union and North Carolina is a right to work (for less) state.

Although West announced it intends to rebuild the factory and promised workers four weeks of wages, repairs could take as long as two years.

The decline of traditional manufacturing industries, such as textiles and tobacco, robbed Lenoir County of half the 10,000 manufacturing jobs it had 20 years ago.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com). George Fishman, Alan Maki, Eileen Reardon, Gabriel Smith and Joel Wendland contributed to this week’s clips.