Greater New Haven Peace Council
UN Day of Peace
Joelle Fishman September 21 2019 at 10:21 PM ·
New Haven City HallLike Page September 20 at 2:54 PM ·
Mayor Toni Harp and members of the Greater New Haven Peace Council (including Alfred Marder) dedicated a newly planted tree Friday, to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Peace, remembering those killed by gun violence in American communities and in wars abroad. Mayor Harp reaffirmed the commitment of New Haven to be a peace messenger city, with ongoing action to advance the cause for peace and justice.
At a symposium on conversion at the University of Connecticut in 2009, the idea arose for a state commission to study and make recommendations on economic conversion. In spring of 2012, the City of New Haven Peace Commission and the Greater New Haven Peace Council jointly urged the Board of Alders (city council) to place a non-binding referendum on the ballot calling for reducing the military budget and using the savings to fund human needs. The referendum received 23,400 yes votes and passed by a 6 to 1 margin. Over 60% of voters who cast ballots for President also voted on the referendum. Based on the success of this referendum, peace and labor leaders jointly drafted a proposal to the state legislature to create a state commission to study transitioning Connecticut's economy.
The draft urged the necessity to stop wars waged to gain control over people, land, fossil fuels and minerals by constricting the armaments industry. It called to reduce the over $1.2 trillion dollar annual spending on warmaking that is bankrupting our country and reverse the unemployment crisis in Connecticut. It urged redirecting Connecticut's declining manufacturing base toward unmet human needs with green, civilian products.
The draft referenced the U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimous resolution in June, 2012, "Calling for U.S. Leadership in Global Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and Redirection of Military Spending to Domestic Needs." Like Martin Luther King, Jr., the mayors understood that the enormous amounts spent on war preparations and wars are killing their cities.
Most importantly, the International Association of Machinists (IAM), which represents workers at many military production plants in Connecticut, and the Connecticut AFL-CIO passed conversion resolutions at their 2012 conventions. Machinists have suffered an enormous loss of jobs as jobs are moved to non-union facilities in the South or offshore. They see the necessity of growing green manufacturing in response to the accelerating threats to the environment. In addition, there is increased recognition from many quarters, that growing or rebuilding manufacturing in Connecticut is essential to a future of good-paying jobs and a healthy economy. Thus there is convergence in a set of interests between labor, peace and the environment.
State Senator Toni Harp turned the draft into a proper bill co-sponsored by the entire New Haven delegation. The bill was assigned to the Commerce Committee, which held a single public hearing. Representatives of the Peace Commission, Peace Council, State Council of Machinists and Connecticut AFL-CIO testified in favor. There was some support and some opposition. Testimony by the IAM converted the skeptics. The Commission, including 3 representatives from labor, 1 from peace and 1 from environment, passed the Senate and House overwhelmingly and was signed into law by the governor. The Commission began meeting October 1, 2013, and must finish its work by the end of 2014.
What made passage of this bill possible? The Communist Party's historic commitment to organize among basic industrial workers in the state led to consistent solidarity with the IAM over decades as they battled the anti-union giant UTC during strikes and job actions to secure and improve their contracts. This was significant in connecting the issues of jobs and peace. CT's peace movement like the national movement is passionate but not particularly large organizationally. A number of peace organizations throughout the state have over many years developed excellent working relationships with labor and legislators. 
The event was sponsored by the Greater New Haven Peace Council.
On Sept. 21, International Day of Peace, we organized the second year of IDP live video conferences between students from around the world. We grew from video exchanges between two cities in 2011 to thirteen in 2012:
Classes in New Haven met over the internet with Wielun, Poland; Slovenj Gradec, Slovenia with Mouphou-Limassol, Cyprus; Kragujevac, Serbia with Cambridge, Massachusetts; Plonsk, Poland with Hiroshima, Japan; Volgograd, Russia with Oswiecim, Poland; and Mexico City with both La Paz, Bolivia and Chicago.
This year’s exchanges will be coordinated from Plonsk, Poland. We are working to grow the numbers of schools, cities and countries engaged in international video exchanges on IDP. Collaboration is with the International Association of Peace Messenger Cities.
Last November’s election day ballot in New Haven carried a move-the-money question: “Shall Congress reduce military spending; transfer funds to convert to civilian production; create jobs to rebuild our infrastructure; and meet pressing human needs?” We waged a campaign with essentially no help from the moguls of the corporate media to alert the public about this crucial question. We mobilized support from many Democratic Party town officials, labor and peace activists. The result: a large majority of voters, 27,550, voted on the question and of them 85%, seven to one, voted YES! The question won handily even in the most conservative wards.
In collaboration with the City of New Haven Peace Commission, an African-American Church and legislative allies, we just introduced into the CT State Legislature a bill calling for the state not to procure conflict minerals originating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighboring states and requiring disclosure of their sources. Should this bill pass, Connecticut would join California and Maryland with similar legislation. The bill would also require the state not to invest its various savings and pension funds in corporations that fail to disclose the source of minerals used in their products.
Every year the city of Kragujevac, Serbia, runs a contest for the best peace cartoons. Many are powerfully stunning. It has created a traveling exhibit of such cartoons. For the first time, this coming March 11 to 22, in collaboration with the International Association of Peace Messenger Cities, the city of New Haven Peace Commission, the Mayor’s Office and Gateway Community College, we have arranged for the exhibit to be displayed at the college. We are reaching out broadly to attract visitors to this exhibit. Further we are working to introduce this contest to residents young and old, who have the combined artistic skills and political acuity, to draw their own cartoons and enter them in coming contest cycles.
Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion Act
April 2016 , Greater New Haven Peace Council activists petitioned Rep. Rosa DeLauro to sponsor the Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion Act (HR 1976).
- CPUSA Convention Discussion: Swords into ploughsharesby: DAVID WELDEN May 22 2014
- UFPJ January 21, 2013 Greater New Haven Peace Council Update
- Henry Lowendorf facebook, April 19, 2011
-  Progressive Action Roundtable: providing a forum for progressive groups in the Greater New Haven Area, accessed July 19, 2010