Warning message

Please note that this page is from our archives. There may be more up-to-date content about this topic on our website. Use our search engine to find out.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is shocked and horrified by the monstrous attacks on innocent civilians in the United States earlier this week. There is no cause on earth that could justify this unspeakable inhumanity.

The events of the last few days are almost a blur. At first it was hard to believe what was happening. Our first reaction was to find those we loved the most family, friends, co-workers. We wanted to make sure they were safe.

Our next immediate thoughts were of the thousands of people who lost their lives or were injured and for their families and friends. We thought of the flight attendants, pilots and passengers on the airplanes. We thought of all the people and workers in the buildings many of them public sector workers, like ourselves. We thought of the amazing courage of the rescue workers, particularly those who lost their own lives trying to save others. We have been thinking of little else since the attacks.

The sheer horror and magnitude of what happened is only just starting to sink in, and we are growing very frightened for the future.

The attacks have exposed how fragile our world is. The attacks have shown that not one of us is immune from violence and war. But the tremendous community response to the devastation also shows that another world is possible.

In the aftermath of the attacks there have been many opinions put forward about how to respond. We have heard reckless calls from some world leaders for revenge and retribution. Thankfully, we have also heard many voices that say this is a time for communities to come together, not to divide even further. We must join with the voices that are saying: This is not a time to retreat from our commitment to work for justice and peace. It is a time to build solidarity among peoples in the world in a non-violent movement for true social, economic and racial equality. Because we know that social, economic and racial equality are essential conditions for both personal and world security.

Our union is committed to building a better world by building strong communities. This is a time to rededicate ourselves to making our world and our communities a fairer place, a compassionate place, a safer place not just for ourselves, but for the worlds children, whose lives have been touched by this tragedy in ways we can only begin to understand.

We must also do everything we can to counter misplaced anger and blame towards people within our communities. It is wrong to threaten children with Arabic-sounding names. It is wrong to hurl bullets and bombs into mosques. It is wrong to brand entire nations and people for the crimes of a few.

The importance of community is reflected in the stories weve heard and the images weve seen on television of the heroic efforts of the public safety workers who are at the heart of the massive life and death operation underway. The firefighters, the paramedics, the health care workers, the police, the construction workers, the hydro workers, the municipal workers, social service workers, all joined by an endless stream of ordinary citizens from all walks of life. And let us not forget the flight attendants and pilots on the aircrafts who tried desperately to stop the attacks.

CUPE members are providing help in countless ways. Paramedics from CUPE 416 are in New York City assisting in the rescue efforts and other local unions representing emergency service workers have been on stand-by, ready to lend their hand. Health care workers, school workers and community staff have provided care and support to many who have been understandably traumatized by the events. Flight attendants have greeted those arriving on planes diverted to Canadian airports, helping passengers and crews needing food and shelter.

From working at shelters, to helping with communications, to giving blood, CUPE members have been on the front lines helping out. The toll for public safety workers has never been greater than in the last five days. And the importance of the work we do in our communities has never been more clear.

In the wake of this tragedy, the Canadian Union of Public Employees pledges to do everything we can to build strong communities. We pledge to build a better, just world free of violence and war.

For those of you who would like to donate money to help with rescue efforts, a rescue fund is being coordinated by the Canadian Labour Congress. Donations will be forwarded to the AFL-CIO, which is working with the United Way and the Red Cross to ensure that your money goes to where it is most needed. Cheques should be made payable to: International Activities Fund/US tragedy, c/o the Canadian Labour Congress, 2841 Riverside Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1V 8X7.

Judy Darcy

National President