This video from the USA says: ‘On Oct. 26, 2002, a massive rally was held in Washington, D.C. opposing any U.S. war with Iraq. It features the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the ILWU, Lynn Stewart, Susan Sarandon and the ANSWER coalition.’
Thursday, 9 August 2007
LONGSHOREMEN ARE ORGANISING AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE TO STOP THE WAR
ILWU Locals 10 and 34 are organising an International Labour Conference to Stop the War, on October 20 from 9am-5 pm in San Francisco, California.
Its statement declares:
‘As the war in Iraq and Afghanistan enters its seventh year, opposition to the war among working people in the United States and the world is massive and growing.
The “surge” strategy of sending in more and more troops has become a fiasco for the Pentagon generals, while thousands of Iraqis are killed every month.
Before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, millions marched against the war in Britain, Italy and Spain as hundreds of thousands took to the streets in the US to oppose it.
But that didn’t stop the invasion.
In the US, this “war on terror” has meant wholesale assault on civil liberties and workers’ rights, like the impending imposition of the hated TWIC card for port workers.
And the war keeps going on and on, as Democrats and Republicans in Congress keep on voting for it.
As historian Isaac Deutscher said during the Vietnam War, a single strike would be more effective than all the peace marches.
French dockworkers did strike in the port of Marseilles and helped bring an end to the war in Vietnam. To put a stop to this bloody colonial occupation, labour must use its power.
The International Warehouse and Longshore Union has opposed the war on Iraq since the beginning.
In the Bay Area, ILWU Local 10 has repeatedly warned that the so-called “war on terror” is really a war on working people and democratic rights.
Around the country, hundreds of unions and labor councils have passed motions condemning the war, but that has not stopped the war.
We need to use labour’s muscle to stop the war by mobilising union power in the streets, at the plant gates and on the docks to force the immediate and total withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
The clock is ticking and it’s time to call it a wrap, as we say on the waterfront.
Labour action to bring the war machine to a grinding halt is long overdue.
During the run-up to the Iraq invasion, Bush citing port security imposed the slave-labour Taft-Hartley Law against the ILWU in collusion with the maritime employers group PMA and with the support of the Democrats.
Yet, he did nothing when PMA shut down every port on the US West Coast by locking out longshore workers just the week before!
In April 2003, when anti-war protesters picketed war cargo shippers, APL and SSA, in the Port of Oakland, police fired on picketers and longshoremen alike with their “less than lethal” ammo that left six ILWU members and many others seriously injured.
We refused to let our rights be trampled on, sued the city and won.
Democratic rights were reasserted a month later when anti-war protesters marched in the port and all shipping was stopped.
This past May, when anti-war protesters and the Oakland Education Association again picketed war cargo shippers in Oakland, longshoremen honoured the picket line. This is only the beginning.
Last year, Local 10 passed a resolution calling to ‘Strike Against the War – No Peace, No Work.’
The motion emphasised the ILWU’s proud history in opposing wars for imperial domination, recalling how in 1978 Local 10 refused to load bombs for the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.
In the 1980s, Bay Area dock workers highlighted opposition to South African apartheid slavery by boycotting (“hot cargoing”) the Nedlloyd Kimberly, while in South Africa itself workers waged militant strikes to bring down the white supremacist regime.
Now Locals 10 and 34 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have called for a “Labor Conference to Stop the War” to hammer out a program of action.
We’re saying: Enough! It’s high time to use union power against the bosses’ war, independent of the “bipartisan” war party.
The ILWU can again take the lead, but action against the war should not be limited to the docks.
We urge unions in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the country to attend the conference and plan workplace rallies, labour mobilisations in the streets and strike action against the war.
For information contact Jack Heyman – jackheyman [at] comcast.net
ILWU LOCAL 10
400 North Point Street
San Francisco, CA
The last big action against the war was on May 19th when dozens of anti-war protesters including the leadership and many members of the Oakland Education Association OEA joined picket lines in the morning and in the evening of the SSA (Stevedoring Services of America) shipping terminal in Oakland, California, to protest against the war and the lack of funding for schools in Oakland.
The picketers demanded that the US get out of Iraq and called on other trade unionists throughout the United States to mobilise in action to stop the war.
The action which began in the early morning before the first day shift of ILWU Local 10 longshoremen and women as well as longshore clerks of ILWU Local 34 was organised to encourage the dockworkers to honour the picket line which they are allowed to do under their contract.
As a result of a political education campaign in the ILWU Local 10, most workers were fully in support of the picket and did not cross the line.
Newly elected Democratic mayor Ronald Dellums had also sent a letter to the Port Action committee that organised the picket which declared that the war ‘had been a blunder’ and said he opposed the war.
The police however not only prevented anti-war picketers from driving to the docks in the morning but also stopped major news media from bringing their vans to the picket lines to cover the demonstration.
The police when questioned by this reporter said that the news vans were not allowed in the area since it was a ‘safety issue’.
In 2003, the Oakland police in collaboration with the SSA company and state security forces launched a violent attack on a similar anti-war protest. They also shot at many ILWU members for the first time since the 1930s.
The picket line, which swelled as the morning went on, was manned by a large number of teachers and leaders of the Oakland Education Association who were not only angry about the war and the role of the port companies like SSA who are profiting off the war. This same company runs privatised docks in Iraq.
They were also picketing to protest the fact that West Oakland students who live next to the port have some of the worst conditions in the schools including poorly maintained sanitary facilities and equipment and supplies while the port of Oakland has an income of $38 billion a year.
OEA president Betty Olsen Jones pointed out that while Oakland is making tremendous income from the Port operations and could help provide funding for the schools they refuse to help out.
As a result of the crisis in the schools, the state has taken them over in a trusteeship and is rushing full speed ahead to privatise the schools with charters including a military charter set up by former mayor and now California Attorney General Jerry Brown.
Many of the Black longshore workers were angry that the Black community in Oakland is not benefiting from the massive income the port is making.
The Oakland Education Association is also supporting a $20 tax on each container that comes into the port that would go to the schools in Oakland so the education system would benefit from being home to the fourth largest port in the US.
Picket line organiser Jonathan Nack said: ‘It’s very important to understand that the union members knew they were risking losing their pay. Yet member after member told me that there is no way that they would cross the picket line.
‘These workers took a stand to end the war, and demand the Port give more money to fund local schools and social services.
The picket was called by the Port Action Committee, an ad hoc grouping of anti-war, labour, and community organisations. Port Action organised a rally on April 7th in front of the Port office building which commemorated the four year anniversary of the day Oakland police attacked non-violent anti-war protesters at the Port.