8 thoughts on “US dockers want May Day anti-war strike

  1. FOR WORKERS’ ACTION TO STOP THE WAR

    WHEREAS: On May 1, 2003, at the ILWU Convention in San Francisco resolutions were passed calling for an end to the war and occupation in Iraq; and

    WHEREAS: ILWU took the lead among labor unions in opposing this bloody war and occupation for imperial domination; and

    WHEREAS: Many unions and the overwhelming majority of the American people now oppose this bipartisan and unjustifiable war in Iraq and Afghanistan but the two major political parties, Democrats and Republicans continue to fund the war; and

    WHEREAS: Millions worldwide have marched and demonstrated against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but have been unable to stop the wars; and

    WHEREAS: ILWU’s historic dock actions,

    1) like the refusal of Local 10 longshoremen to load bombs for the military dictatorship in Chile in 1978 and military cargo to the Salvadoran military dictatorship in 1981 and

    2) the honoring of the teachers’ union antiwar picket May 19, 2007 against SSA in the port of Oakland stand as a limited but shining example of how to oppose these wars; and

    WHEREAS: The spread of war in the Middle East is threatened with U. S. air strikes in Iran or possible military intervention in Syria or the destabilized Pakistan;

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

    That it is time to take labor’s protest to a more powerful level of struggle by calling on unions and working people in the U. S. and internationally to mobilize for a “No Peace No Work Holiday” May 1, 2008 for 8 hours to demand an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U. S. troops from the Middle East; and

    FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED:

    That a clarion call from the ILWU be sent with an urgent appeal for unity of action to the AFL-CIO, the Change to Win Coalition and all of the international labor organizations to which we are affiliated to bring an end to this bloody war once and for all.

    Submitted by:

    ILWU Local 10

    passed overwhelmingly after thorough debate

    If you need any further information or wish to send messages of support and solidarity please contact Bob McEllrath, International President, ILWU, 1188 Franklin Street, San Francisco, California 94109.

    Tel: (+1 415) 775 0533 Fax: (+1 415) 775 1302. Email: robert.mcellrath@ilwu.org

    Messages of support and solidarity should also be sent to ILWU Local 10 President Melvin Mackay
    fax (+1 415) 441 0610 and/or melmackay@aol.com

    Please send copies to dockers@gn.apc.org (sacked Liverpool dockers)

    Like

  2. BRIDGING THE GAP: MAKING IT HAPPEN
    An organizers conference for people who wish to act together to bridge the
    gap between civilians and members of the armed forces resisting the war by
    organizing direct face-to-face outreach

    April 5, 2008

    Middle Collegiate Church
    50 East 7th St., New York, New York

    POLITICIANS CAN’T BE COUNTED ON TO HALT THE BLOODSHED
    THE TROOPS HAVE THE POWER TO STOP THE WAR

    10 am – Noon: First hand reports on sentiment against the wars in the armed forces outreach to the troops [organizing tactics in the real world]

    1:00 – 1:30: Resistance Through Evocation: Photographs, Poems

    1:30 – 3: Troops Resist War; Vietnam And Iraq: Eyewitnesses

    3:30 – 5: On Guard: “We Never Swore To Obey; We Swore To Defend”

    5 – 6:30: Iraq Veterans + Union Workers = History In Motion

    Fabian Bouthillette, Iraq Veterans Against The War & The Military Project

    Clarence Thomas, Local 10, San Francisco
    The International Longshore and Warehouse Union

    Speakers In Alphabetical Order [Partial List]
    *Thomas Barton, The Military Project & GI Special
    *Richard Boyle, Author, Flower Of The Dragon
    *Elaine Brower, The Military Project & Traveling Soldier & Military Families Speak Out
    *Fabian Bouthillette, Iraq Veterans Against The War & The Military Project
    *J.D. Englehart, Iraq Veterans Against The War & The Military Project & Traveling Soldier
    *Mike Hastie, Photographer, Vietnam Veteran
    *Michael Letwin, New York City Labor Against The War & The Military Project
    *Garett Reppenhagen, Iraq Veterans Against The War
    *Dennis Serdel, Poet, Vietnam Veteran
    *Clarence Thomas, Local 10, The International Longshore and Warehouse Union

    Organized By:
    The Military Project: contact@militaryproject.org
    [With the assistance of Traveling Soldier & GI Special]

    Like

  3. For Workers Strikes Against the War!

    ILWU to Shut Down West Coast Ports May 1 Demanding End to War in Iraq, Afghanistan

    In a major step for the U.S. labor movement, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has announced that it will shut down West Coast ports on May 1, to demand an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East. In a February 22 letter to AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, ILWU International president Robert McEllrath reported that at a recent coast-wide union meeting, “One of the resolutions adopted by caucus delegates called on longshore workers to stop work during the day shift on May 1, 2008 to express their opposition to the war in Iraq.”

    This is the first time in decades that an American union has decided to undertake industrial action against a U.S. war. It is doubly important that this mobilization of labor’s power is to take place on May Day, the international workers day, which is not honored in the U.S. Moreover, the resolution voted by the ILWU delegates opposes not only the hugely unpopular war in Iraq, but also the war and occupation of Afghanistan (which Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Republican John McCain all want to expand). The motion to shut down the ports also demands the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the entire region, including the oil sheikdoms of the strategically important Persian/Arab Gulf.

    The Internationalist Group has fought from the moment U.S. troops invaded Afghanistan in September 2002 for American unions to strike against the war. Despite the fact that millions have marched in the streets of Europe and the United States against the war in Iraq, the war goes on. Neither of the twin war parties of U.S. imperialism – Democrats and Republicans – and none of the capitalist candidates will stop this horrendous slaughter that has already killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. The only way to stop the Pentagon killing machine is by mobilizing the power of a greater force – that of the international working class.

    The action announced by the powerful West Coast dock workers union, to stop work to stop the war, should be taken up by unions and labor organizations throughout the United States and internationally. The ILWU should be commended for courageously taking the first step, and it is up to working people everywhere to back them up. Wherever support is strong enough, on May 1 there should be mass walkouts, sick-outs, labor marches, plant-gate meetings, lunch-time rallies, teach-ins. And the purpose of such actions should be not to beg the bourgeois politicians whose hands are covered with blood, having voted for every war budget for six and a half years, but a show of strength of the working people who make this country run, and who can shut it down!

    Now is the time for bold class action. Opposition to the war is even greater in the U.S. working class than in the population as a whole, more than two-thirds of which wants to stop the war but is stymied by the capitalist political system. In his letter to Sweeney, the ILWU president asked “if other AFL-CIO affiliates are planning to participate in similar events.” Labor militants should make sure the answer to that question is a resounding “yes!”

    There should be no illusions that this will be easy. No doubt the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) bosses will try to get the courts to rule the stop-work action illegal. The ILWU leadership could get cold feet, since this motion was passed because of overwhelming support from the delegates despite attempts to stop it or, failing that, to water it down or limit the action. And the U.S. government could try to ban it on the grounds of “national security,” just as Bush & Co. slapped a Taft-Hartley injunction on the docks during contract negotiations in the fall of 2002, saying that any work stoppage was a threat to the “war effort,” and threatened to occupy the ports with troops!

    The answer to every attempt to sabotage or undercut this first labor action against this war, and against Washington’s broader “war on terror” which is intended to terrorize the world into submission must be to redouble efforts to bring out workers’ power independent of the capitalist parties and politicians. If the ILWU work stoppage is successful, it will only be a small, but very important, beginning that must be generalized and deepened. It will take industrial-strength labor action to defeat the imperialist war abroad and the bosses’ war on immigrants, oppressed minorities, poor and working people “at home.”

    ILWU in the Forefront of Labor Action Against the War

    Workers strike action against imperialist war isn’t new – it just hasn’t happened here for a long, long time. During World War I there were huge mass strikes in Germany against the battlefield carnage, culminating in the downfall of the kaiser in November 1918. A year earlier in Russia, working-class opposition to the war led to the overthrow of the tsar and the October Revolution led by Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks. The Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International call today for transport workers to “hot cargo” (refuse to handle) war shipments. In the early 1920s, Communist-led French dock workers did exactly that, boycotting ships carrying war materiel to suppress a colonial rebellion in the Rif region of Morocco, as they also did during France’s war in Indochina in the 1950s.

    In the U.S., the ILWU struck in 1948 amid Cold War hysteria and in defiance of the “slave labor” Taft-Hartley Act to defend its union hiring hall against the bosses and government screaming about “reds” in the union leadership. In 1953, at the height of McCarthyite witch-hunting, the ILWU called a four-day general strike in Hawaii of sugar, pineapple and dock workers over the jailing of seven union members for being communists. During the Vietnam War, socialist historian Isaac Deutscher said that he would trade all the peace marches for a single dock strike. The ILWU was the first U.S. union to oppose the Vietnam war, but during war and especially during the 1971 strike union leader Harry Bridges refused to stop the movement of military cargo. (Ship owners made use of this by falsely labeling cargo as “military” to evade picket lines and undermine the strike.) This betrayal went hand in hand with a “mechanization and modernization” contract that slashed union jobs.

    As the U.S.-led imperialist invasion of Iraq was looming, in January 2003 train drivers in Scotland refused to move a freight train carrying munitions to a NATO military base. The next month, Italian railroad unionists and antiwar activists blocked NATO war trains by occupying the rails. In the United States, ILWU dock workers were a target of “anti-terrorist” government repression, as police fired supposedly “less than lethal” munitions point blank at an antiwar protest on the Oakland, California docks, injuring six longshore workers and arresting 25 people (who eventually won their legal case against the police). And every year since the war started, the San Francisco/Oakland ILWU Local 10 has voted for motions for labor action against the war. Usually they were voted down at caucuses and conventions of the ILWU, but not this time.

    Last May, Local 10 longshoremen and Local 34 ships clerks refused to cross picket lines set up by the Oakland Teachers Association and antiwar activists, defying arbitrators’ orders by refusing to work ships of the notorious antiunion outfit, Stevedoring Services of America (see “Oakland Dock Workers Honor Picket, Shut Down War Cargo Shipper,” The Internationalist No. 26, July 2007). In the aftermath of that action, the union issued a call for a Labor Conference to Stop the War that would “plan workplace rallies, labor mobilizations in the streets and strike action against the war.” The Call to Action stated:

    “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 labor’s muscle to stop the war by mobilizing union power in the streets, at the plant gates and on the docks to force the immediate and total withdrawal of all U. S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.”

    As the conference date approached, the union was the target of several police attacks, including a vicious cop assault on two black dock workers from San Francisco working in the port of Sacramento. Some 250 demonstrators from every ILWU local in Northern California rallied in their defense outside the courthouse. Their trial to be set march 18 at a hearing will encounter even larger demonstrations.

    The Internationalist Group and its union supporters helped build and attended the October 20 conference, along with some 150 labor and socialist activists from the Bay Area, elsewhere in California and across the country. At the meeting, a particular focus was resistance to the Transportation Workers Identification Card (TWIC), which threatens minority workers and the union hiring hall, and which the Democratic Party in particular has been pushing in order to carry out a purge of dock workers in the name of the “war on terror.” Not long after that conference, a federal judge ordered Local 10 elections canceled and replaced by a Labor Department-run vote, on the eve of 2008 contract bargaining. Federal agents even invaded the union hall to enforce their order. This action is a threat to the independence of all unions.

    This set the stage for the recent longshore-warehouse caucus, which voted a motion for a 24-hour “No Peace, No Work Holiday” against the war. The resolution was introduced in Local 10 by Jack Heyman, who also presented the motion for the 24 April 1999 coast-wide port shutdown demanding freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther and renowned radical journalist who has been on Pennsylvania’s death row for the last quarter century. Although the union tops maneuvered to prevent Heyman from being elected as a delegate to the Coast Caucus, the motion passed in Local 10. At the Caucus, the delegate from Local 34 referred to the October Labor Conference to Stop the War as the origin of the motion.

    At the close of the Caucus on February 8, there was a vigorous debate on the resolution. The union tops tried to stop it, to no avail. They kept asking, “are you sure you want to do this action.” The delegates overwhelmingly said “yes.” Even conservative trade unionists, including veterans of the Vietnam War, were getting up saying the government is lying to us, we’ve had it with this war, we’ve got to put a stop to it now. So instead the bureaucrats tried to gut the motion, which was cut down from 24 hours to 8, and changed into a “stop-work” meeting (covered by a contract clause) instead of a straight-out shutdown, thinking that this would lessen opposition from the employers. In the end there was a voice vote and only three delegates out of 100 voted against.

    The efforts to undercut the motion continue, as is to be expected from a leadership which, like the rest of the pro-capitalist labor bureaucracy, seeks “labor peace” with the bosses. In his letter to Sweeney, ILWU International president tried to present the action as an effort to “express support for the troops by bringing them home safely,” although the motion voted by the delegates says nothing of the sort. Playing the “support our troops” game is an effort to swear loyalty to the broader aims of U.S. imperialism. It aids the warmongers, when what’s needed is independent working-class action against the system that produces endless imperialist war. Yet despite the efforts to water it down and distort it, the May 1 action voted for by the ILWU delegates is a call to use labor’s muscle to put an end to the war.

    Mobilize Labor’s Power to Defeat the Bosses’ War!

    For the West Coast dock workers union to shut down the ports against the war means a big step forward in the class struggle. The Internationalist Group has uniquely fought for workers strikes against the war, when all the popular-front “peace” coalitions dismissed this and even some shamefaced ex-Trotskyists refused to call for it, saying it had “no resonance” among the workers (see our October 20007 Special Supplement to The Internationalist, “Why We Fight For Workers Strikes Against the War [and the Opportunists Don’t]”). With signs, banners and propaganda we have sought to drive home the central lesson that it is necessary to defeat the imperialist war abroad and the bosses’ war “at home” by mobilizing the power of the workers movement independent of and against the capitalist parties.

    That means fighting the war mobilization down the line. First and foremost, this means actively joining the struggle for immigrant rights as the government turns undocumented working people into “the enemy within.” Class-conscious workers should demand full citizenship rights for all immigrants. Last year, San Francisco Local 10 voted to stop work and join marches for immigrant rights on May 1, but this was opposed by the employers PMA and sabotaged at the last minute by the union tops. Shamefully, Local 13 in Los Angeles, a majority Mexican American port, made no protest when police attacked immigrant rights protesters that same day. Today, as the ICE immigration police stage Gestapo-style raids across the country, organized labor should take the lead in organizing rapid response networks to come into the streets to block the raids. Despite the campaign by the capitalist media and politicians to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria, there is widespread disgust among American working people toward the jackbooted storm troopers who are terrorizing immigrant communities.

    At the same time, the unions should use the power to put a halt to the attacks on civil liberties which are part of the home front of the imperialist war. Driver’s licenses with biometric data, TWIC identification cards with “background checks,” warrantless spying and phone tapping, setting up special military tribunals for “trials” in which defendants are denied the right of habeas corpus, to know the “evidence” or even the charges against them – all these are part of a drive that is in high gear pushing the United States toward a full-fledged police state. There have been scores, perhaps hundreds of resolutions by unions and city, county and state labor bodies against the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, showing that labor activists are well aware of the danger. But just as is the case with the countless union antiwar resolutions, there has been no labor action. It is commonplace in the labor movement to bemoan the lack of real action when Reagan broke the 1981 PATCO air traffic controllers’ strike, paving the way for massive union-busting, takeaways and racist attacks all down the line. Let’s not let the labor bureaucrats bury the vital struggles of today.

    Now is the time to turn words into deeds, to speak to the capitalist rulers in the only language they understand. The imperialist war parties must be defeated by a class mobilization of the working people at the head of all the oppressed. The ILWU motion to stop work on May Day to put a stop to the war can provide working people everywhere with the opening to turn from impotent protest to a struggle for power. For that the key is to build a class-struggle workers party fighting for a workers government, for socialist revolution here and around the world, that will put an end once and for all to the system of endless war, poverty and racism.

    Write to the Internationalist Group, Box 3321, Church Street Station, New York, NY 10008. E-mail: internationalistgroup@msn.com. Visit us on the Internet at: http://www.internationalist.org

    Like

  4. Hi Leon Trotsky, you have certainly proved that someone born in 1879, died in 1940, still can write long blog comments in 2008 🙂 Anyway, thanks for the extra info. It is to be hoped that the anti-war strike will be successful.

    Like

  5. ILWU calls for worldwide ‘No Peace, No Work Holiday’ to oppose US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan
    W. Coast dockers to stop work May Day to oppose Iraq war

    At the International Longshore & Warehouse Union’s annual Pacific Coast Longshore Caucus, an overwhelming majority of delegates voted to stop work during the day shift on Thursday, May 1, 2008 at every West Coast port, to express their opposition to the war in Iraq.

    Delegates called on unions to mobilize for a “No work, no peace holiday” on May Day “to demand an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East.” The union issued “an urgent appeal for unity of action to the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win Coalition…to bring an end to this bloody war once and for all.”

    The Longshore Caucus, or convention, was meeting in San Francisco Jan. 28 to Feb. 8, to prepare for bargaining a new contract for ILWU members in ports up and down the West Coast. The current contract expires on July 1, 2008.

    Letter Carriers local plans May Day action in solidarity with the ILWU

    The ILWU also urged other unions to participate in similar events on May 1 to bring the Iraq war to an end and bring the troops home safely. In response, the 2,700-member Letter Carriers Union in San Francisco voted to observe 2 minutes of silence in all carrier stations at 8:15 a.m. on May 1st — in honor of International Workers’ Day, and in solidarity with the ILWU stop-work action, “to express our opposition to the war in Iraq.”

    The following resolution was adopted by the ILWU at its Pacific Coast Longshore Caucus: ILWU resolution: For Workers’ Action to Stop the War

    WHEREAS: On May 1, 2003, at the ILWU Convention in San Francisco resolutions were passed calling for an end to the war and occupation in Iraq; and

    WHEREAS: ILWU took the lead among labor unions in opposing this bloody war and occupation for imperial domination; and

    WHEREAS: Many unions and the overwhelming majority of the American people now oppose this bipartisan and unjustifiable war in Iraq and Afghanistan but the two major political parties, Democrats and Republicans continue to fund the war; and

    WHEREAS: Millions worldwide have marched and demonstrated against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but have been unable to stop the wars; and

    WHEREAS: ILWU’s historic dock actions, 1) like the refusal of Local 10 longshoremen to load bombs for the military dictatorship in Chile in 1978 and military cargo to the Salvadoran military dictatorship in 1981; and 2) the honoring of the Teachers Union antiwar picket May 19, 2007 against SSA in the port of Oakland — stand as a limited but shining example of how to oppose these wars; and

    WHEREAS: The spread of war in the Middle East is threatened with U.S. air strikes in Iran or possible military intervention in Syria or the destabilized Pakistan; therefore be it

    RESOLVED: That it is time to take labor’s protest to a more powerful level of struggle by calling on unions and working people in the U.S. and internationally to mobilize for a “No Peace, No Work Holiday” May 1, 2008 for 8 hours to demand an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East; and further be it

    RESOLVED: That a clarion call from the ILWU be sent with an urgent appeal for unity of action to the AFL-CIO, the Change to Win Coalition and all of the international labor organizations to which we are affiliated to bring an end to this bloody war once and for all.

    — Adopted by the ILWU Longshore Caucus, meeting in San Francisco, California, February 8, 2008

    San Francisco Letter Carriers on May Day and the War

    RESOLVED: That Branch 214 of the National Association of Letter Carriers, representing 2,700 letter carriers in the San Francisco Bay Area, request that carriers in all carrier stations observe 2 minutes of silence at 8:15 AM on May Day — May 1st, 2008 — in honor of International Workers Day and in solidarity with the ILWU longshore workers’ action in stopping work in all West Coast ports for 8 hours on May Day, to express our opposition to the war in Iraq. — Adopted by NALC Branch 214, meeting in San Francisco March 5, 2008, by unanimous vote.

    Like

  6. http://www.sfweekly.com/2008-03-12/news/may-day-work-stoppage

    ILWU to Shut Down West Coast Ports on Socialist Holiday
    By Matt Smith

    Published: March 12, 2008

    Aaron Farmer

    Arriving in the Port of Oakland at 6 a.m. last Thursday, the grey-blue
    colossus auto carrier Century Highway No. 3 carries enough cars to
    fill all the parking lots surrounding the Giants stadium — a mere
    fraction of the average 368 million annual tons of autos, toys, and
    other goods moving through the 29 ports along America’s Pacific coast.
    Could there be a force of man or nature powerful enough to interrupt
    this perpetual merchandise tsunami?

    Would you believe — San Francisco radical peaceniks?

    On May 1, the usually bustling ports along the West Coast will become
    still, as members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union
    (ILWU) stop work during the day shift to protest the wars in Iraq and
    Afghanistan.

    “If we can do something so dramatic as to shut down the ports on the
    West Coast, I think people will realize how important” opposition to
    the war is, said Jack Heyman, an executive board member of San
    Francisco’s ILWU Local 10, and a prominent antiwar activist. In 2003,
    Heyman and about a dozen other war protesters were arrested outside
    Oakland shipping facilities.

    “The ILWU has had a legacy of opposing U.S. imperial wars like the one
    in Iraq,” Heyman wrote in an essay describing that event, “while
    supporting struggles internationally like the antiapartheid struggle
    and the Cuban revolution.”

    Indeed, the union, which represents 25,000 dockworkers on the Pacific
    coast, is simultaneously the most politically radical and economically
    comfortable group of U.S. workers. Full-time portside equipment
    operators can earn salaries into six figures, and union-hall
    conversation can drift into splitting hairs over early-20th-century
    Russian history.

    Last month Heyman, who operates a forklift-like machine that moves
    shipping containers at the Port of Oakland, proposed to his union
    brethren that they conduct an antiwar work stoppage on May Day, an
    international socialist holiday. The proposal was met with groaning
    from some members, because the protest will occur at a delicate time.
    On March 17, the union will begin negotiating a new six-year coastwide
    labor contract with shippers. If successful, these negotiations will
    preserve longshore workers’ status as among the most highly paid
    workers in America.

    After some heated argument, Heyman’s antiwar rhetoric won the day.
    Union rank and file took a vote and made it official: During the
    eight-hour day shift on May 1, portside traffic in goods between the
    U.S. and Asia will cease.

    Officials with the shippers and the union — who must spend the next
    few months sitting across from each other at a bargaining table,
    ideally without distraction — sought to downplay the stoppage’s
    significance.

    Steve Getzug, spokesman for shippers’ group the Pacific Maritime
    Association, said company officials were too busy preparing for
    contract negotiations to pay much attention to the May Day protest.

    Meanwhile, ILWU spokesman Craig Merilees put it this way: “It’s been
    agreed that on the first of May, the union will exercise its right to
    hold a meeting on that day. On the day shift, local unions will have
    the opportunity, if they wish, to take some of that time to speak out
    against the war if they feel so inclined.”

    Like

  7. Pingback: Henriette Roland Holst poem for US workers | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  8. Pingback: Trade unionists of Vermont, USA, support anti Iraq war strike | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.