British dockers support US colleagues’ anti Iraq war strike

This video from the USA is called Union Solidarity / Military Materials Resistance at US Ports.

From the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee site:

Support from Europe for ILWU’s May Day Antiwar Action from Unite the Union (Europe)

Dear Brother McEllrath

No Peace No Work May Day Action

I have been informed by the sacked Liverpool Dockworkers of ILWU’S decision to stop work at all of Americas West Coast Ports on the 1st May in protest against the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On behalf of my Union can I send a message of thanks and support to the ILWU and all the Longshoremen and women, who will be participating in this historic and significant action.

Without a doubt the ILWU’S action is in the very best traditions of the Labour and Trade Union Movement; and should act as a clarion call to governments the world over that the time has come to end these divisive wars once and for all.

The 1st of May is International Workers’ Day when working-class men and women remember, commemorate and celebrate the past industrial and political struggles of our forefathers and mothers.

The decision of the ILWU to use this May Day as an anti-war protest will go down in the annals of Workers’ History, and I congratulate you, your Union and all the members for making such a stand.

In Solidarity,
Len McCluskey
Assistant General Secretary

4 thoughts on “British dockers support US colleagues’ anti Iraq war strike


    At the start of the Iraq War in 2003, many working people were opposed to the invasion. Now the overwhelming majority want to end the war and withdraw troops. Yet, both major political parties continue to fund the war. Marches and demonstrations have not been able to stop the war. The Longshore Union (ILWU) will stop work for 8 hours in every port on the West Coast on May 1st. This action shows that working people have the power to stop the war.

    Don’t work on May 1st — MAKE MAYDAY A “NO PEACE, NO WORK HOLIDAY”!

    *Stop the war!
    *Withdraw the troops now!
    *No scapegoating immigrant workers for the economic crisis!
    *Health care for all!
    *Funding for schools and housing!
    *Defend civil liberties and workers’ rights!


    Port Workers’ May Day Organizing Committee



  2. Longshoremen to close ports on West Coast to protest war

    Jack Heyman

    Wednesday, April 9, 2008

    While millions of people worldwide have marched against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and last week’s New York Times/CBS News poll indicated that 81 percent believe the country is headed in the wrong direction – key concerns being the war and the economy – the war machine inexorably grinds on.

    Amid this political atmosphere, dockworkers of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have decided to stop work for eight hours in all U.S. West Coast ports on May 1, International Workers’ Day, to call for an end to the war.

    This decision came after an impassioned debate where the union’s Vietnam veterans turned the tide of opinion in favor of the anti-war resolution. The motion called it an imperial action for oil in which the lives of working-class youth and Iraqi civilians were being wasted and declared May Day a “no peace, no work” holiday. Angered after supporting Democrats who received a mandate to end the war but who now continue to fund it, longshoremen decided to exercise their political power on the docks.

    Last month, in response to the union’s declaration, the Pacific Maritime Association, the West Coast employer association of shipowners, stevedore companies and terminal operators, declared its opposition to the union’s protest. Thus, the stage is set for a conflict in the run up to the longshore contract negotiations.

    The last set of contentious negotiations (in 2002) took place during the period between the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the invasion of Iraq. Representatives of the Bush administration threatened that if there were any of the usual job actions during contract bargaining, then troops would occupy the docks because such actions would jeopardize “national security.” Yet, when the PMA employers locked out the longshoremen and shut down West Coast ports for 11 days, the “security” issue vanished. President Bush then invoked the Taft-Hartley Act, forcing longshoremen back to work under conditions favorable to the employers.

    The San Francisco longshore union has a proud history of opposition to the war in Iraq, being the first union to call for an end to the war and immediate withdrawal of troops. Representatives of the union spoke at anti-war rallies in February 2003, including one in London attended by nearly 2 million people, the largest ever held in Britain. Executive Board member Clarence Thomas went to Iraq with a delegation to observe workers’ rights during the occupation.

    At the start of the war in Iraq, hundreds of protesters demonstrated on the Oakland docks, and longshoremen honored their picket lines. Without warning, police in riot gear opened fire with so-called less-than-lethal weapons, shooting protesters and longshoremen alike with wooden dowels, rubber bullets, pellet bags, concussion grenades and tear gas. A U.N. Human Rights Commission investigator characterized the Oakland police attack as “the most violent” against anti-war protesters in the United States.

    And finally, last year, two black longshoremen going to work in the port of Sacramento were beaten, Maced and arrested by police under the rubric of Homeland Security regulations ordained by the “war on terror.”

    There’s precedent for this action. In the ’50s, French dockworkers refused to load war materiel on ships headed for Indochina, and helped to bring that colonial war to an end. At the ILWU’s convention in San Francisco in 2003, A. Q. McElrath, an octogenarian University of Hawaii regent and former ILWU organizer from the pineapple canneries, challenged the delegates to act for social justice, invoking the union’s slogan, “An injury to one is an injury to all.” She concluded, “The cudgel is on the ground. Will you pick it up?”

    It appears that longshore workers may be doing just that on May Day and calling on immigrant workers and others to join them.

    May Day protest

    WHEN: 10:30 a.m., May 1, followed by a rally at noon.

    WHERE: Longshore Union Hall, corner of Mason and Beach (near Fisherman’s Wharf).

    WHAT: March to a rally at Justin Herman Plaza along the Embarcadero.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION:;; or call (415) 776-8100.

    Jack Heyman is a longshoreman who works on the Oakland docks.


  3. New York faculty/staff union supports IWLU anti-war work stoppage

    The following anti-war resolution was adopted unanimously at the March 27 delegate assembly of the Professional Staff Congress, AFT Local 2334 at the City University of New York.

    Whereas, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has voted to stop work and shut down all 29 West Coast ports for the full 8-hour day shift on May 1st, in protest against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan; and

    Whereas, this historic decision to use the power of their contract to close the ports represents one of the most powerful forms of labor action a union can take to demand an end to the war; and

    Whereas, the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY has, since the start of the war in Iraq, called for an end to the war and a reordering of national priorities so that funding is available for education, healthcare, jobs and other human needs; and

    Whereas, it is especially important that CUNY students, faculty and staff have an opportunity to discuss the meaning of a powerful labor action to end the war, given the intense military recruitment our students face and the direct effect of the war budget on CUNY funding and contracts; and

    Whereas, the PSC has embarked on the most intense phase of our fight for a fair contract; and

    Whereas, the ILWU has expressed the hope that its decision will be a “clarion call” to the rest of labor; and

    Whereas, the March meeting of the Hunter PSC chapter voted to hold an outdoor event/teach-in against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan on May 1st in solidarity with the ILWU work stoppage and with the theme of mobilizing labor’s power against the war; therefore be it

    RESOLVED that the PSC send to the ILWU a message of solidarity on the occasion of their historic initiative for workers’ action against the war, and as part of this effort, be it further

    RESOLVED that while the priority for PSC organizing during the next two months will be the drive to reach a good contract settlement, PSC chapters that vote to undertake a campus event or teach-in on May 1 in solidarity with the ILWU action will be supported in doing so; and such actions should reach out as broadly as possible to students and the community and should contribute to building the union campaign for a good contract.


    Greensboro, North Carolina Mail Carriers vote 2 minutes of silence on May Day to oppose the war

    Postal letter carriers in Greensboro voted to observe 2 minutes of silence at 9:15 a.m. on International Workers Day – Thursday, May 1, 2008 – to express their opposition to the war in Iraq. Their workplace action is in solidarity with the ILWU longshore workers, who are shutting down all West Coast ports for 8 hours on May 1st in opposition to the war. The vote took place on April 3 at their regular membership meeting in Greensboro.

    The action by Greensboro Branch 630 of the National Association of Letter Carriers is also in solidarity with San Francisco Branch 214 letter carriers and the American Postal Workers Union in the New York Metro Area and San Francisco, who earlier voted to pause for 2 minutes of silence on that day to oppose the war. The APWU locals, whose members work around the clock, plan to observe the period of silence at specific times on all three shifts.


    April 17, 2008

    One Longshoreman’s Opinion

    Stop PMA’s Phony Legal Attack!
    Defend Our Union!
    Support the Caucus Resolution!

    Around contract time, it often gets hot between unions and employers. I’ve been in the trade union movement 50 years. (I joined the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union when I was 14 years old.) I have never heard an employer use such bogus arguments to deny workers their right to a union meeting particularly at contract time. Longshore workers, by democratic vote, have decided to stop work on May Day to stop the war, a war that most people in this country oppose. It’s the war that’s illegal, not our decision to stop work. PMA legal threats will only anger longshore workers, especially now during negotiations, a time when Local 10 has usually led the locals on the Coast in job actions showing our union’s strength to bolster the Negotiating Committee. Our action was decided by a democratic debate at the Longshore Caucus and that’s he highest body in the ILWU Longshore Division when it’s in session. PMA can’t change that decision.

    The ILWU International requested to change the date of our stop work meetings in April 1999 and PMA agreed. The purpose for the meeting change was to lead a demonstration of 20,000 people in San Francisco to help save the life of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an innocent black journalist on death row in Pennsylvania. PMA didn’t have a problem then and shouldn’t have a problem now. We also had negotiations going on then and there was a helluva lot more shipping going on then. It’s clear PMA is trying to test the will of the ILWU membership Our antiwar action has the backing of many trade unions as well as the San Francisco Labor Council, the International Dockworkers Council and the International Transport Workers Federation, representing longshore unions in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia.

    Labor action can stop the war. Pressuring the Democrats will not. They’ve proved it already. They got a majority in both houses of Congress in ’06 because voters thought they would put an end to the war. And what happened? They keep voting billions for the war budget over and over, Clinton, Obama, McCain — all of them. The International has endorsed Barack Obama, but he, like the others, says he can’t withdraw “combat brigades” from Iraq until some time in 2010, and he, like the others, says he will keep some troops in Iraq indefinitely He wants to increase the U.S. forces in Afghanistan and attack Iran and Pakistan! I’m not voting for any Democrat or Republican. As I’ve said before, the labor movement needs its own party, a workers party. In any case, the Caucus resolution that passed is clear as can be. It says this is “a bipartisan and unjustifiable war in Iraq and Afghanistan but the two major political parties, Democrats and Republicans continue to fund the war.” And that’s truth.

    The Caucus resolution doesn’t get into the whole “support the troops” or “safe withdrawal” thing because it is a trap. The Democrats and Republicans in Congress, even the ones who say they’re against the war, say they vote for the Pentagon budget to show that they “support the troops.” All that does is keep the war going. For an occupying army to withdraw only when it’s “safe” means never because it’s always violent and chaotic when a foreign military invades and oppresses people of another country. A lot of sisters and brothers in the ILWU, like myself, have friends and relatives in the armed forces, some of them in Iraq. Many of them got dragged into the military in what is being called the “economic draft” — basically because they didn’t see any other way to get a skill or get a college education paid for. So instead they kill and get killed. And flag-waving doesn’t do them any favors — it ends up with the flag draped over coffins.

    Again, our resolution says clearly, we “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 it’s not just us. We’re not in this alone. We’re getting messages of support from around the world. To stop this war is going to take international action by the working class, not by phony appeals to patriotism. We’re hoping that our action can get British workers and Japanese workers and Italian and French workers to stop work as well. Then we’ll see some results.

    No work should be done in any port on the Coast Thursday May 1st, nothing moves. If any port works, it undercuts the whole purpose of our action and shows a divided ILWU to PMA. We had a democratic vote to stop work and mobilize for a “No Peace No Work Holiday,” remember? No work means no work, period.

    We’re doing something here that takes courage, something people all over the world are watching, something our kids and grandkids will be proud of us for. We’re adding a new page to the ILWU history book, “The ILWU Story, Six Decades of Militant Unionism”. Because when we stand up and say “no”, we put our money where our mouth is. We’re stopping work even though it’s costing every one of us because we want to make a point. It shows we mean business and we don’t want PMA to tell us what we can and can’t do.

    We’re stopping work to stop the war. And if we shut the waterfront down tight as a drum, so that nothing moves on the docks to send the message that this war has got to end or we’re pulling the plug — then the politicians, generals and bankers in Washington on Wall Street are going to take notice. You know it and I know it and they know it — we all know it. So let’s get serious about this: no work means no work. If PMA sees that they can divide us, it will just encourage them to take a harder line in the contract bargaining. If they see that we’re standing solid on May Day, it will tell them what’s coming their way if they try to hardtime us in the negotiations.

    Already you have the big business press reporting that shippers want to “streamline operations” by eliminating jobs, that they would like to “dispatch work assignments over the Internet rather than at union hiring halls,” and that they “have shown an interest in moving work away from the docks, which the ILWU dominates.” But, the article says, “workers in Vancouver, Canada’s independent ILWU affiliate this February stopped work during two shifts as a show of strength during negotiations.” And while “The significance of the May Day antiwar stoppage is small when compared to the threat of a longer shutdown,” it adds, “this spring’s wrangling, which pits union jobs against shippers’ profits, might portend the sort of confrontation” that has economists up nights worrying (Miller-McCune, April 9). That’s what the bosses’ press is saying. So let’s give them something to worry about.

    Jack Heyman #8780


  4. Pingback: US dockworkers’ May Day strike against Iraq war | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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