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Canadian Labour to Iraq

From: Vallie Stearns vallie@magma.ca
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2003 12:06 PM

Sisters and Brothers:

My name is Vallie Stearns, member and past president of CUPE Local 3851, a worker at a women's shelter and a lawyer.  I am not a paid staffer nor an elected official, but I am an anti-war and union activist.  I have applied to join the international labour delegation to Iraq.  I am inviting you to join me.

Activists who are members of the newly formed Ottawa Labour Against the War held a priliminary strategy session.  Our goal is to animate rank-and-file union members, local by local, to engage in accelerated work actions against this illegal, unjustified and senseless war.

The leadership of national unions, such as CUPE, CAW, CUPW, SEIU and others, have made public statements agains the war.  Notably, there was a telephone conference with members of the US Labour Against the War, where unions across this continent condemned the war.  However, a concerted union action against the war has yet to materialize.  Our work is to animate the "sleeping giant" of organized labour to give workers a forum to express their opposition to the war.

There is no time for official endorsements.  We need a Canadian team or 2 or 3 rank-and-filers from different cities and different unions who are a willing to take action, now.  With photographs of worker-to-worker contact between ourselves and Iraqi postal, hospital, education, municipal workers, we can meet with locals one-by-one, seeking funding and endorsements for Canadian Labour Against the War, and the commitment to engage in work stoppages and disruptions.  Our goal is to promote free and democratic trade unionism and to oppose war and genocide on our sisters and brothers across the globe.

There is a window of opportunity for us to go to Iraq safely if we act quickly.  A tentative departure date would be Monday or Tuesday of next week for a 3-4 day visit, joining the Korean advance team and teams from other nations that are being organized in the next few days.

The US-UK-Spanish resolution does not have the support it needs to pass yet, and the vote has been delayed another week.  We would be supported by Voices in the Wilderness, a Chicago-based organization that has sponsored Iraq Peace Teams since September 2002 and have developed a network of contacts that would permit us to meet workers.  If we are successful in building an international delegation, we may be able to secure visas.  It took me a few days of intense soul-searching to reach the decision to put my name forward. I do not want to put myself in unreasonable danger, but I am willing to take a certain level of personal risk if I felt that it could accelerate the awakening of Canadian people that we have the strength to alter the course of history towards justice and peace.

I want you to join me.

Please distribute this appeal among your labour, justice and anti-war networks in Canada and abroad.

In solidarity,

Vallie Stearns

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