Workers’ Correspondence

In the life of workers, no question has remained as crucial for determining the quality of life of working people as war and peace. In 21st-century America, the overriding desire of working people is to live in a peaceful world where nations and people trade and interact in various ways beneficial to all.

The desire for peace, unfortunately, in our history has not always been enough to avert war. A glaring instance was World War II, where the advance of Nazism threatened the entire world with conquest, the genocide of entire peoples and the restructuring of the world into superior and inferior peoples.

Our nation resolved to stop fascism. The issue was debated in the Congress. The unions discussed the issue with their members, deciding that hard work and sacrifice were needed. President Franklin D. Roosevelt articulated what the workers and nation had agreed upon.

Today war rages. After Al-Qaeda attacked our country on Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush declared never-ending war. After Al-Qaeda was defeated in Afghanistan, Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, even though Iraq and Sept. 11 had no connection. The invasion was supposedly to seize Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, which did not exist. Now our government supports Israel’s invasion of Lebanon that might well become a regional war.

World War II required sacrifice, but this present war climate is exacting sacrifice without the same issues at stake as in WWII, and without the issues of either our involvement or the degree of sacrifices required being discussed among the union rank and file.

Increasingly workers are coming to the conclusion that the invasion of Iraq was wrong. They are beginning to see more clearly the relationship between increased defense spending and more difficult contract negotiations, increasing efforts to privatize schools and public jobs, coupled with a failing health care system and increased energy costs.

Thus far the Iraq war has cost over $286 billion. It is projected the total could reach over $2 trillion. The federal Discretionary Budget for FY 2007 allocates 56 percent for national defense but only 6 percent for health, 2 percent for transportation and 8 percent for education, training, employment and social services.

If today’s rank and file weighed in on the question of war and peace through their unions, I’m confident they would make a great contribution in the effort for peace and prosperity for our country.

— Shelby Richardson Jr. The writer is a Chicago-area public worker.