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For Immediate Release
January 25, 2002

UE General Executive Board Statement

For More Information Contact:
Peter Gilmore, 412-471-8919

UE General Executive Board
Statement on the Current Crises

The terror attacks of September 11, combined with the apparently domestic anthrax nightmare, have together extracted a massive toll on our nation. As we predicted shortly after September 11, working people have borne the brunt of the damage. In addition to the thousands of terror casualties, many more thousands of rescue and debris-clearing workers are now apparently sickened from toxic fallout at the World Trade Center complex clean-up site. Thousands of postal workers and Congressional staff have been exposed to the deadly anthrax germ, and have been subjected to experimental vaccines and medical treatments. Our economy proceeds to sink even faster into recession, with mass layoffs and plant closings driving unemployment to an eight-year high. Enron, the seventh largest U.S. corporation, vanished overnight in a flash of corruption. Workers everywhere were left to wonder if their jobs, or their investment savings, were safe from such a massive swindle.

In the face of these multiple crises, the same corporate elites who finance and control President George W. Bush, and who bankroll a growing majority of Congress, have exploited this tragic time for their own ends, and for their own further enrichment.

In times like these, people expect our elected officials to show leadership in confronting and tackling the serious problems that confront working people. But sadly, President Bush and a compliant Congress have done nothing to bring relief to America’s working families. In place of a real, thorough investigation of the causes of the September terror attacks, Bush and Congress have instead passed the draconian "Patriot" scheme to massively scale back the Constitutional rights of immigrants and citizens alike. U.S. military might has crushed the outlaw regime in Afghanistan, but the U.S. foreign policy that protects corporate power at the expense of workers will lead to neither a safe nor peaceful world. Meanwhile, U.S. forces are now being detailed to more than half a dozen countries in the endless, ill-defined and incredibly expensive Bush "war on terrorism." Rather than provide assistance to the cash-strapped states as they grapple with the post-September 11 fallout, Bush used this moment to revive funding for the "star wars" corporate welfare boondoggle.

Instead of crafting a sensible economic stimulus bill of relief for working families and the unemployed, Congress surrendered to big business and passed one corporate giveaway bill after another. The House of Representatives refused to address the pressing need for massive job creation, and instead bowed to corporate pressure by passing the job-killing "fast track" scheme. Anthrax terrorism and fears of even greater germ warfare attacks, combined with growing numbers of uninsured, urgently make the case for a national health care system. But no action was taken, and tragically, none is expected. Failing to promptly and fully investigate the gigantic Enron fraud, the Bush Administration sits idle while critical documents are destroyed.

Working people need, deserve, and demand better leadership than this. Now is the time for Congress to address the pressing needs of the people, not to cater to corporate interests. Now is the time for Congress to fully investigate the causes of the terror attacks; repeal the unconstitutional curtailment of our civil liberties; convene an international peace and anti-terrorism conference in place of a massive military build-up; and pass an emergency economic stimulus bill including extension of unemployment benefits and health care coverage for the unemployed, massive job creation through public infrastructure improvements, and direct aid to the states.

And last, but not least, we call on Congress to renew the push for a real, national health care program as the best and most fitting tribute to the victims of the terror attacks. There could be no better or lasting legacy to the innocent victims than this.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, January 19, 2002


UE News - 01/02

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