Secures Bus, Builds Coalition
Call it rank-and-file initiative.
Other delegates were still on their way home from the 2000 UE
Convention when John Thompson, Local 690 was already busy carrying out
one of the recently adopted convention resolutions, with a convention speaker
The Convention had just called for closure of the U.S. Army
School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga., and endorsed the annual Nov.
18-19 demonstration outside the military base there.
Taking the resolution to heart, Thompson arranged three
speaking engagements for Rev. Roy Bourgeois in the Pittsburgh area
immediately after his appearance at the
UE Convention in Erie. A Maryknoll missionary, Bourgeois has devoted
himself to shutting down the school. He is the founder of School of the
Americas Watch, which coordinates annual protests at Ft. Benning and in
Thanks to Thompson’s efforts, Bourgeois met with staff and
members of the United Steelworkers, at the union’s international
headquarters; with more than 60 students at the University of Pittsburgh; and
with religious, peace and social justice groups at St. Hyacinth’s Church
near the university campus.
The result was the creation of the Western Pennsylvania
Coalition to Close the School of the Americas and a successful fundraising
effort that sent a bus to Ft. Benning.
"The coalition is going to stay together," Thompson
says. The group will be considering what can be done locally to build support
for Congressional action to close the SOA.
UE News - 12/00