Pete Meyers works for the Tompkins County Workers Center. The TCWC, in collaboration with Cinemapolis, is presenting a week-long screening of the new film, "Iraq For Sale", starting on Friday, 20 October (see previous Ithaca Blog post).
Ithaca Blog phoned Pete for a quick conversation about this event, and the work of the Workers Center.
Ithaca Blog: How did this collaboration between the Workers Center and Cinemapolis come about?
Pete Meyers: We worked with Cinemapolis last year to show "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices". "Iraq For Sale" is by the same director and became available in the same way for community showings. So we approached Cinemapolis and they said yes.
IB: The Wal-Mart movie is obviously relevant to workers' issues. How about a movie on Iraq?
PM: This is a little step in a new direction for the Workers Center. Personally, I've always approached activism from an anti-war position. But we have shied away sometimes in the past from anti-war issues, and focused on things everyone agrees on. Anti-war activity is obviously not that. But, now, obviously, this war is wrong. Workers think it's a bad thing. Military people are workers, and they're getting hurt directly. Other workers are getting hurt indirectly.
There's a web site called costofwar.com. It shows the monetary cost of the war. It's at about $334 billion right now. They also break it down by locality. I think for Tompkins County it's around $122 million. For the city of Ithaca, $23 million. Obviously, this hurts workers. It's money we could be spending on health care and education.
IB: What do you see as the highest priorities for workers right now?
PM: Health care and wages. We've been doing a lot of work on health care. We had a rally when Spitzer was here to debate. The top health care advisor from the Spitzer campaign came to meet with us. He will probably become the health commissioner under Spitzer, and he believes in a single-payer system. And wages, obviously wages need to be higher.
IB: Anything in particular you would like people to know about the Workers Center?
PM: We used to be the Living Wage Coalition. We have an active committment to get more people. We need critical mass. We're a member organization now. People can join for one hour's wage per year. We have a web site where people can find out more.
Ithaca Blog went to the Workers Center web site by searching for Tompkins County Workers Center. The actual address seems to be www.tclivingwage.org.
- Thanks to Pete for his time for this interview, which involves a certain amount of paraphrasing, due to a dead tape recorder battery. -
for Ithaca Blog