San Francisco Labor Council Statement on the Tragic Events of September 11, 2001


[Note: The following statement was adopted by the S.F. Labor Council at its delegates meeting on Monday, September 24, 2001. The statement was submitted to the Labor Council by the Executive Board of OPEIU Local 3. It was adopted following one friendly amendment from the floor.]

The San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO) joins the nation and the world in mourning the devastating loss of life resulting from the vicious attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as well as the crashed plane in Pennsylvania. We condemn the criminality of those attacks and those responsible.

Many of those killed were union members and other workers killed on the job. Our hearts go out to our sisters and brothers and their loved ones. We particularly honor the rescue workers who continue to risk their lives to save others.

No one, in this country or any other, should suffer the fate of the victims in these attacks. We demand that the perpetrators of these crimes be brought to justice. The United States has a responsibility to establish with irrefutable facts the identity of those who were behind these attacks. The tragic attacks of September 11 should be treated as a heinous crime rather than an act of war.

As we mourn this tremendous loss of life, we declare our resistance to efforts to use this tragedy to engage in military actions that can lead only to more carnage and senseless loss of life. We reject the idea that entire nations should be punished for the actions of a few. Bombing raids and military strikes will only fuel an endless cycle of revenge that can only bring the deaths of more innocent civilians, both here and around the world.

In the face of such sorrow, we urge all people, particularly members of the labor family, to stand united against prejudice, hatred, and intolerance wherever it arises. Within our own borders, we call upon all in our communities to join us in immediately confronting any anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, anti-Sikh or other anti-immigrant hate speech or acts of violence, whether in our neighborhoods, our workplaces, or in the media. We strongly oppose efforts to curtail the rights of immigrants and refugees, including expulsion of suspect foreign nationals without due process.

We also declare our resistance to efforts to use this tragedy to curtail our civil liberties. Militarization of our society inevitably leads to erosion of civil liberties and workers’ rights. We must remain vigilant in the defense of our democratic principles, including the protection of our civil liberties. Already proposals have been put forward to allow increased federal surveillance of private activities, and there is a strong push for greater use of racial profiling. In the past, national security has often been used to justify interference with our rights to freedom of association, to organize, to strike, and to picket. We must redouble our efforts to fight for justice, and must not allow those who oppose our goals to use a national crisis as an excuse to assault our civil and economic rights.

We encourage open discussion as to the origins of this crisis and the most appropriate response to the atrocities that have taken place — particularly about the need for a foreign policy that is based on economic and political justice.

A century ago, Samuel Gompers, first President of the AFL, said that labor wants more justice and less revenge. Our greatest memorial to our fallen sisters and brothers will be a world of peace, justice, tolerance, and understanding, underscored by the solidarity of working people.