Minutes ago, I spoke with Clarence Thomas of the ILWU executive board. “The rank and file action against the war is indeed happening right now”, he said. And today the workers will write history.
David Roknich 9:05 AM PST
Here is some background from union procedings which I’ve archived at my site:
The wars currently fought by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan have become a war against working people. This is why the Bay Area Longshoreman of ILWU Local 10 were the first American union workers to condemn the war.
On October, 2007, ILWU Local 10 passed the following resolution, which eventually led them to vote, along with local 34, to shut down all shipment from the west coast to asia on May 1, 2008. (story continues after the shaded area below)
MAIN MOTION (AS AMENDED) THE LABOR CONFERENCE TO STOP THE WAR
Mobilize the Labor Movement Through Workers’ Actions to Stop the War!Whereas, the overwhelming majority of people in the U.S. and around the world oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and
Whereas, both major American political parties, Democrats and Republicans, have continued to vote to fund these wars, and
Whereas, the international labor movement through workers action has the power to stop the war, and
Whereas, the people of Iraq and Afghanistan are being killed and those countries destroyed, as U.S. imperial might and its regional allies, the Zionists and puppet Arab monarchists and generals threaten to expand attacks to Iran and Syria, while Palestinian rights are blatantly denied, and
Whereas, the bloody war abroad is waged against Iraqis and Afghanis, while the “war on terror” at home is targeting American working people, oppressed minorities and immigrants,
Therefore be it resolved that this conference calls for participants to go back to their unions committed to the urgent task of organizing actions, including strikes where possible, at the workplace against the war, recognizing that only an independent mobilization of labor can stop these wars and withdraw the troops immediately.
Addendum: From the workshop “Middle East: The War for Oil and Empire” a motion was passed “calling for educating and mobilizing rank and file workers in union locals and in organized forums about the false nature of the Category of Terror, to expose the role of our rulers in using state power to stage terror events as a pretext for repression, imperial war and the massive destruction of our rights as part of a heightened class war on working people everywhere.”
According to the striker’s website:
The Longshore Caucus passed an antiwar resolution to stop work in all U.S. West Coast ports on May 1, 2008 for 8 hours to protest the Democrats’ and Republicans’ continuing to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The resolution from Local 10 encountered vigorous debate. In the end the overwhelming consensus to take dock action to stop the war prevailed. It was Vietnam veterans who turned the tide in the debate overwhelmingly in favor the resolution, “For Workers’ Action to Stop the War”. As the President of Local 34 Richard Cavalli stated this resolution follows ILWU Local 10 and 34’s successful Labor Conference to Stop the War held in San Francisco Oct. 20, 2007, as reported in the ILWU’s newspaper, The Dispatcher. (The Dispatcher as a PDF file)
The original plan was to schedule a stop work meeting for May 1st, which is allowed by their contract for the conduct of union business.
“The caucus has spoken on this important issue and I’ve notified the employers about our plans for stop-work meetings on May 1,” ILWU President Bob McEllrath stated on the union’s Web site.
Employers, represented by the Pacific Maritime Association, will not agree to it, and threatened union leaders with court action under Taft-Hartley if they don’t call it all off. But the show will go on. With a press release on April 23rd, the gauntlet has been thrown down. As the day fast approaches, no court action has been announced:
PORT WORKERS MAY DAY ORGANIZING COMMITTEE
April 23, 2008The Port Workers May Day Organizing Committee is proud to announce that Cynthia McKinney, former Congresswoman from Georgia; Danny Glover, renowned actor and political activist; and Cindy Sheehan, Gold Star mother whose son Casey was killed in Iraq four years ago, will be among the featured speakers at our “No Peace, No Work” Holiday mobilization in San Francisco on May 1st.
The West Coast longshore workers have voted to stop work to protest against the ongoing war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Port Workers May Day Organizing Committee and the other rank-and-file committees in ports up and down the West Coast have received pledges of support from labor councils, local unions and anti-war, anti-racist, immigrant and other social justice organizations across the country and around the globe.
The “March with Longshore Workers” will assemble at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 1st, at the Longshore (ILWU) hall at Mason & Beach, and will march down the Embarcadero for a noon rally at Justin Herman Plaza.