Labor for Palestine expresses its strongest solidarity with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and its workers in Longview, Washington. ILWU Local 21 in Longview is under attack by a major corporation, EGT, which is running a grain terminal at the port without an ILWU contract, violating the port agreement with the ILWU, which has governed the port’s operations for over 75 years.
The ILWU’s response to this union-busting attempt has been militant and strong, and the center of solidarity from the ongoing Occupy/Decolonize movements. If the ILWU’s jurisdiction is broken at the Port of Longview, union rights are under threat at container ports up and down the West Coast.
The ILWU struggle in Longview has drawn the attention and solidarity of popular movements across the U.S. and internationally as a central struggle for workers’ rights, and ILWU Local 10 of the Port of Oakland has been at the center of that organizing.
Occupy Oakland, working in solidarity with the ILWU, mobilized 30,000 people on November 2, 2011 to shut down the Port of Oakland in explicit solidarity with the struggle of Longview workers and the longshore workers of Oakland, and ports up and down the West Coast were shut down or protested on December 12, 2011 by Occupy movements in Seattle, Portland, Oakland and elsewhere, again in response to the ILWU battle in Longview.
ILWU Local 10 has itself come under attack by the Pacific Maritime Association, pursued in court because of its strong action against the destruction of public workers’ rights to organize in Wisconsin, shutting down the ports of San Francisco and Oakland for 24 hours on April 4, 2011. Despite threats to itself, ILWU Local 10 has once again stood in the front lines with ILWU Local 21 and in defense of the rights of all workers.The workers of Longview have faced massive repression; ILWU Local 21 has only 225 members, but 220 arrests for participating in protests at the port to defend their union’s jurisdiction. They have brought over 1,000 people to the Port of Longview in protest, and inspired the Occupy protest actions at the ports up and down the West Coast.
Workers on the West Coast, including ILWU Locals 10 and 21 and the San Francisco and Cowlitz-Wahkiakum County Labor Councils, have announced plans for a caravan to Longview to join the workers in protest when called to action (http://www.transportworkers.
ILWU Local 10’s defense of their sisters and brothers in the Port of Longview reflects a long history of domestic and international solidarity.
West Coast dock-workers refused to handle cargo for Nazi Germany (1934) and fascist Italy (1935); refused shipping for apartheid South Africa in the San Francisco Bay Area (1984); and refused to load bombs for the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile (1978). ILWU workers at all twenty-nine West Coast ports held a May Day strike against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008.
On June 20, 2010, they respected a community picket by refusing to load an Israeli ZIM ship docked at the Port of Oakland. The picket came at the behest of calls from the Palestinian labor movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions and followed in the footsteps of multiple resolutions passed by ILWU Local 10 in support of Palestinian human and workers’ rights.
In the same spirit of solidarity, Labor for Palestine supports the call for the Longview Caravan. Just as the workers of the ILWU have stood in solidarity with Palestine, we stand with the workers of the ILWU in Longview, Oakland, and everywhere in their struggle to defend workers’ power and stop union-busting.