Washington State Jobs with Justice Statement on 9-11-01

[The text of the following statement was forwarded to the laborparty.usa newsgroup by Paul Bigman, a leader of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in Washington state and of the Seattle Chapter of the Labor Party. An explanatory paragraph in italics from Washington State Jobs with Justice precedes the text.]

The Steering Committee of Washington State Jobs with Justice directs that the following statement be sent to national Jobs with Justice, to other Jobs with Justice coalitions, and to the member organizations of Washington State JwJ. We strongly reject the notion that JwJ should remain silent on the issues of militarization, war, and peace. We urge other JwJ coalitions and our member organizations to pass similar policy statements, and commit Washington JwJ to work with our allies to advance the policies outlined below.

Washington State Jobs with Justice joins the nation, and indeed 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 firefighters, police, and other 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.

We understand that an endless cycle of revenge can only bring the deaths of more innocent civilians, both here and around the world. We reject the idea that entire nations should be punished for the actions of a few.   

Within our own borders, we call upon all in our communities to join us in immediately confronting any anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, or other anti-immigrant hate speech or acts of violence, whether in our neighborhoods, our workplaces, or in the media. We will stand in solidarity with our neighbors to defend immigrant communities, religious minorities, and their houses of worship. We strongly oppose efforts to curtail the rights of immigrants and refugees, including expulsion of suspect foreign nationals without due process.  

Our national policies must support working people. Just as we insist that economic recovery aid benefit workers and not only corporations, we stress that while me may oppose specific war policies, we insist on adequate support for the working men and women in the armed services.

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 most appropriate response to the atrocities that have taken place. Congress must vigorously participate in all decision-making on our foreign policy, and must not abdicate that responsibility to the Executive Branch. Our foreign policy must be based on pursuit of global justice, and not on an endless cycle of civilian slaughter.

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, tolerance, and understanding, underscored by the solidarity of working people.

Adopted unanimously 9-22-01