SPACE WEEK BEGINS
|Louisa Hart holds sign during protest at Bath Iron Works today|
We had a good turnout this morning as we gathered in front of Bath Iron Works (BIW) to mark Keep Space for Peace Week. The Aegis destroyers made at BIW carry interceptor missiles on-board that are key elements in the Pentagon's 'missile defense' first-strike attack program.
About five Quakers came up from Cambridge, Massachusetts which was a nice surprise.
We started walking toward one of the gates that workers filed out of as the noon whistle sounded on the Saturday shift. I was first in the line and one of them yelled to me, "Do you support the troops?" I simply replied, "Bring them home." He was not satisfied with my response so he yelled the question again, "Do you support the troops?" His badgering of me had no impact and my response was again "Bring them home."
But in fairness I must say that several guys in cars that went by during this same time gave us a thumbs up or a peace sign. Not everyone that works at BIW relishes in the destruction that goes along with the job. Like in so many other places many workers are just punching a clock, finding a way to feed their family. If they had their druthers they'd be happy building wind turbines, rail systems, or hospital ships.
It is those workers we are really trying to reach. One man in our group held a sign today that read "Conversion creates more jobs". The fact is that workers at BIW, and other weapons production plants, are likely to see their jobs disappear as the nation is forced to cut military spending in the coming years due to massive national debt and economic crisis. It would be smart for military production workers to start calling on their elected officials at every level (local, state, and national) to begin planning for conversion of the weapons production process.
The numbers show without a doubt that conversion does in fact create more jobs. You can see the definitive UMASS-Amherst Economics Department study here.
The peace movement can't do this one alone, and should not be expected to. The people who labor inside the military industrial complex need to become advocates for their own future. And that future will only be secure when they help convert their workplace to deal with the coming ravages of climate change.
The global war system, including the current insane plan to move the arms race into space, is a dinosaur waiting to die.