Monthly Archives: September 2014

Bay Area activists again prevent unloading of Israeli ship (Electronic Intifada)

Bay Area activists again prevent unloading of Israeli ship


Protestors at the Oakland Port.

(Charlotte Silver)

Labor and Palestine solidarity activists in the San Francisco Bay Area came together again in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning to greet a cargo ship from the Israeli line Zim at the Port of Oakland.

With roughly 75 people, dispersed across the five entrances to the berth, activists hoped to prevent longshore workers from unloading the cargo. Zim Integrated Shipping Services is Israel’s largest cargo shipping company and has become an increasingly popular target around the country among Palestine solidarity activists.

As the sun rose over the small gathering, no workers seemed to be arriving for the shift. Nevertheless, organizers kept the picket lines moving, expecting some workers would eventually arrive.

But as the window for the shift came to an end, Jack Heyman, chair of the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee and a retired member of the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union), made an announcement: only one longshoreman chose to work the shift unloading the Zim line this morning — no other union members wanted to work it.

Every day longshoremen go to the hiring hall in San Francisco to choose the shifts they will work. Organizers for today’s actions spent the last week flyering outside the hiring hall, letting the workers know why they would be picketing on Saturday and asking them to respect their protest.

The ILWU Local 10 has been out of contract since July, which means workers will not get paid if they do not work a shift, regardless whether there is a picket line or a health and safety concern. But it also means union members do not have to defer to the port authority to determine whether or not they do cross a picket line. The ILWU has a long history of lending its union power in solidarity to outside causes.

According to Toby Blome, an activist and organizer with the antiwar group CODEPINK, many workers responded favorably to the flyers and were happy not to take Saturday’s shift working Israel’s Zim line.

While mobilizing efforts for Saturday’s action were last minute, local Palestine solidarity activists have been nurturing their coalition with labor for months.

on Twitter


on Twitter

Only one worker tried to take a Zim job, according to ILWU source. It seems rank & file is mostly on our side.

New coalition

Earlier this month, the Block the Boat coalition that had staged August’s port shutdown announced plans that they would be holding another action at the port on 25 October. But some members within the coalition wanted to plan an earlier action for September and branched off into a new coalition called Stop Zim Action Committee.

“The momentum that we had going in August should be continued,” Steve Zeltzer, a labor activist and journalist, told The Electronic Intifada. “We have to build a movement to shut down Zim everywhere.”


Picket at the Oakland Port.

(Charlotte Silver)

Zeltzer said that he is currently in conversation with activists in South Africa and Spain about coordinating similar actions against Zim ships.

“This is the most effective action I’ve ever been a part of,” Blome told The Electronic Intifada, referring to last month’s historic four-day shutout of the Zim line. “It taught me that just a few dozen people could hold back a ship, which is just incredible.”

Block the Boat actions have spread across the country. In addition to the West Coast, Tampa, Florida successfully delayed the unloading of a Zim line ship on 20 September.

Power of blocking Zim

In August, activists prevented a Zim ship from unloading for four straight days, during which time the ship remained anchored in the Bay trying to wait out the protests. And while the port was able to sneak the vessel in to dock on the night of 19 August, it remained unclear how much cargo had actually been unloaded.

An Al Akhbar investigation revealed that several of the businesses who were waiting for cargo on the Zim ship never received their goods. As a result, some businesses told Al Akhbar that they were ceasing work with Zim and were looking for other shipping companies to use.

There is another opportunity for the Zim ship to unload in Oakland this evening. Organizers are asking people to gather at the West Oakland BART Station at 4:30 PM where there will be carpools taking people to the port.

Protesters picket against Israeli-owned ships in the Port of Oakland (KTVU-TV)

Posted: 7:34 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014

Protesters picket against Israeli-owned ships in the Port of Oakland

Port of Oakland Israeli ship protest

OAKLAND, Calif. —

About 70 Protesters with the group “Stop Zim Action Committee” declared victory at the Port of Oakland Saturday morning after Longshoreman declined to cross their community picket line to unload the Israeli cargo ship Zim Shanghai.

“Zim put in an allocation for longshoremen this morning to go to work. One longshormen accepted the job. Everybody else refused to go to work for Zim line today,” Jack Heyman, retired ILWU Local 10 member and protest participant, said. He said usually there would be 50-60 longshoremen needed to unload the ship.

Port of Oakland spokesman Robert Bernardo said in a statement to KTVU that, “Although labor (Longshoremen) were able to enter the terminal to report to work; there was insufficient labor to successfully work the vessel.”

Protest participant Toby Blome said members of the group had spent the previous week passing out leaflets at the ILWU hall as part of their effort to convince them to support their cause and refuse to unload the Israeli cargo ship.

“We feel like this is a tremendous victory,” Blome said. “This is just the beginning.”

“They’ve been picketed in Vancouver, they’ve been picketed in Los Angeles, they’ve been picketed in Tampa. They’ve had to change their schedules. It’s cost them maybe millions of dollars,” said protest participant and organizer Steve Zelter.

Most of the group left the Port of Oakland around 9 a.m. after they declared victory for the morning shift, but said they would be back around 6 p.m. to convince Longshoremen arriving for the evening shift to continue to honor their picket line. The protesters went home just after 9 p.m.

The event remained peaceful and no injuries were reported.

KTVU contacted a media representative for Zim Integrated Shipping Services Saturday morning to get a response from the company about the protester’s actions and claims, but did not hear back from them.

Workers Against Israel (Jacobin)

Workers Against Israel


Over the past year, the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign has finally gained some widespread political attention in the United States: from the American Studies Association’s vote to endorse the academic boycott of Israel, to the flurry of student votes for divestment at the University of California and other US campuses, to the unprecedented criticism that met Scarlett Johansson when she quit her role as global ambassador for Oxfam so she could continue as global ambassador for SodaStream.

Last month’s protests at West Coast ports point not only to the momentum with which BDS has moved forward – more quickly than most activists could have predicted – but also to the possibility of direct action posing an ever graver threat to business as usual for Israel, particularly when organized labor is on board.

Until now, no one had ever kept an Israeli cargo ship from unloading for two consecutive days; we blocked the Zim Piraeus for four.

From Saturday, August 16 to Tuesday, August 19, activists at the Port of Oakland protested Israeli human rights abuses by picketing the berths where the ship intended to offload its cargo.

Zim Integrated Shipping Services isn’t just an Israeli shipping company. It’s the largest Israeli shipping company — the tenth largest in the world — and it’s intimately tied to the government, which owns a special stake in Zim (known as the “golden share”) and requires that it keep at least eleven ships at all times, to be used by the military in the case of national security emergencies.

Founded in 1945 by the Histadrut (the main Israeli trade union body) and the Jewish Agency, Zim functioned during the Nakba as the sole maritime connection for Zionist colonists and, subsequently, the nascent state of Israel. The Israeli government’s ownership of Zim has given the company monopoly power from the beginning: US loans going towards transportation, for example, would be earmarked for Zim, prompting one member of the Knesset in 1950 to remark that he “approve[s] the loan legislation, on condition that there is one law for all, and that all companies are treated equally with [government owned] Zim Shipping…. Zim has privileges which private companies don’t.”

Zim was privatized in 2004 when Israel Corp., owned by the Ofer Brothers Group, bought the government’s stake in the company for $115 million. But the government still retains its “golden share,” which gives it veto power over major share sales or other corporate actions.

The Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) has called on workers worldwide, and Bay Area workers in particular, to refuse to facilitate the commerce of Zim and other Israeli companies as part of BDS. This call was supported by COSATU, the Coalition of South African Trade Unions.

US unions have for the most part been slow to respond, due in part to the deep and longstanding influence of the Histadrut and its US counterpart, the Jewish Labor Committee (JLC). Formed as an anti-fascist solidarity group in 1934, the JLC has since the end of World War II taken the most reactionary positions on political (and particularly racial justice) issues, from supporting McCarthyite anti-communist, anti-Semitic witch-hunts in the 1950s, to demonizing the black freedom movement in the sixties, to helping roll back affirmative action policies in the seventies, to supporting the US attacks on Vietnam and Iraq.

The organization is primarily concerned, however, with enforcing a pro-Israel line in elite labor and Democratic Party circles, including through its cozy relationship with the AFL-CIO. In 2009, the JLC co-founded the group Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine (TULIP), whose specific purpose is to prevent trade union support for BDS and undermine it where it already exists.

Given this political climate, it’s remarkable that this summer’s Block the Boat action in Oakland was able to succeed — and only due to mass community participation and solidarity from the rank and file of the Bay Area dockworkers’ union, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10. While the JLC and other Zionist organizations wield great influence over the AFL-CIO, the ILWU actually broke with the AFL-CIO as recently as August 2013. The union’s slogan is “An injury to one is an injury to all,” and their history bears out their commitment to international solidarity.

It was a strike by Local 10 that kept a South African ship from offloading its cargo for eleven days in 1984. In 1978, Local 10 refused to load weapons parts that were supposed to be sent to Chile’s brutal military dictatorship. During the Occupy protests, the union refused to work as part of the general strike called for by Occupy Oakland and other activists. Local 10 member Clarence Thomas traces the union’s history of honoring direct actions back eighty years: “[w]e’ve respected community picket lines since 1935, when Local 10 workers refused to load metal that was bound for the war machines of fascist Italy and Japan.”

Since sympathy strikes are illegal under the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act, the union leadership itself couldn’t take a position in support of Block the Boat’s community picket. But the sympathies of the rank-and-file are nonetheless clear, nowhere more so than in the 2010 resolution (adopted by Local 10’s executive board) condemning Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara and declaring support for the PGFTU call for boycott. That year saw the first successful port action targeting an Israeli ship in 2010, when (in response to Israel’s massacre of nine activists aboard the Gaza aid flotilla Mavi Marmara) five hundred activists in Oakland prevented a Zim ship from unloading for a full day.

Then as now, the efforts of Oakland’s community in support of the Palestinian liberation movement would not have enjoyed such success without the support of the ILWU rank and file. According to Block the Boat organizer Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), part of the reason for the successes of the Bay Area Palestine solidarity work lies in its history of engagement with organized labor: “The Arab and Palestinian community worked for over a decade to establish a relationship to the labor movement in the Bay Area.”

Indeed, Block the Boat had initially been planned for August 2, but AROC organizers pushed for it to be rescheduled to August 16 in order to give them time to develop their relationship with the union, as well as to bring out the Palestinian and other Arab leadership that has been central throughout protests against the Gaza massacre. Day after day, AROC and other activists went to the union hall to talk to the workers, to explain why they were carrying out the action, to answer their questions, and to ask for their support, in a continual process of engagement.

We also had the support of ILWU members who are community activists around many anti-racist struggles. The most important relationships weren’t with the union leadership, Kiswani says, but with the rank and file, who were supportive throughout the action: “[W]e even received phone calls and emails from ILWU workers providing us with vital information about the ship, its whereabouts and its anticipated departure.”

While Block the Boat was originally planned as a one-off, the success of the August 16 action (the Piraeus didn’t even attempt to dock) created such momentum that the effort broadened beyond the initial organizing. The community returned every day at 5 am, and then again at 5 pm. Zim tried to wait it out — they even (apparently) tried to fake us out by making for Los Angeles and then doubling back to dock in a different berth, operated by Ports of America (PA).

The little cargo Zim managed to offload was, according to sources in the longshoremen’s union, a result of the duplicity of PA, which circumvented our picket by calling in longshoremen to work other ships before transferring them to the Piraeus. In 2010, Local 10 was under contract, which guaranteed they would be paid irrespective of their decision to strike. This time, however, they were without a contract, which meant they wouldn’t be paid if they refused to work. Still, every morning and every evening, Local 10 lived up to their values and reputation by refusing to cross our picket line.

We were told that, officially, the longshoremen wouldn’t cross because of “unsafe working conditions.” It wasn’t our picket that made the conditions unsafe, but rather, potential police reaction — union members pointed to a 2005 incident in which Oakland police shot workers crossing a picket line with rubber bullets. As long as our picket line was big enough, Local 10 would respect it.

The longshoremen kept their word. As midnight approached on Tuesday, August 19, we heard from several sources that those longshoremen who had been manipulated into working the Zim ship were planning to engage in a work slowdown, deliberately minimizing the amount of cargo they unloaded. The insistence of AROC and other activists that the Block the Boat coalition take the time to cultivate a relationship with labor based on trust and respect turned out to be crucial.

While some sloppy media reports alleged that the ship had successfully unloaded its cargo before leaving the Bay, sources told us that only a fraction of the 176 Oakland-bound containers were actually offloaded. One Port of Oakland official claimed 26 had been unloaded; other union sources said 50. These figures remain unconfirmed, but regardless of the exact numbers, as the ship finally left it was clearly still laden with red containers, while no cargo was loaded onto it.

This information has since been confirmed by companies quoted as saying they’re reconsidering doing business with Zim in the wake of Block the Boat. It would certainly explain why it spent August 20 moored in the Bay instead of taking off immediately. Maybe it was waiting for us to leave before attempting to dock at another berth. At any rate, it wasn’t a decision Zim made lightly: one dockworker told us every twelve hours we delayed the Piraeus cost the company $50,000.

That figure, too, is still unconfirmed, but what we know for sure is that the lost revenue greatly exceeds the operating costs. After activists in Los Angeles, Tacoma, and Seattle also succeeded in delaying Zim ships, it’s clear that Block the Boat isn’t just a flash in the pan: doing business with Zim can cause significant delays, and customers who don’t want to deal with that will take their business elsewhere.

So it appears that, as a BDS tactic, Block the Boat has legs. And it’s no surprise that it was kicked off in the Bay Area, a hotbed of Palestinian and Palestine solidarity activism. University of California Berkeley and University of California Davis, for example, were home to two of the earliest chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), an organization of which I am a member. In 2002, Berkeley hosted the first National SJP Conference. Since then, SJP chapters have been at the vanguard of BDS campaigns (specifically focused on divestment) at universities across the United States.

Kiswani, herself one of the co-founders of SJP at Davis, says the strength and vision of pro-Palestinian organizing in the Bay Area is attributable, in part, to the painstaking work of building coalitions across movements: “The organizing that led up to the Block the Boat action in Oakland included the leadership of AROC and that of Arabs and Palestinians,” she told me, “but also involved the leadership of organizers that work on issues of policing, militarization, anti-war, economic, housing, and racial justice.”

The growing success of BDS — through divestment initiatives, Block the Boat, or other direct actions — depends on precisely these kinds of relationships. As this action showed, no single relationship is more crucial to the effectiveness of BDS than its relationship to organized labor. BDS isn’t just about isolating Israel. It’s also about normalizing that isolation, so that every dollar Zim loses due to delays or spoiled goods carries with it the threat of much greater losses.

Zim is already in dire financial straits, requiring a gigantic restructuring plan that would, among other things, write off $1.4 billion of the company’s $3.4 billion debt. Israel regards Zim as vital to national security, and not just because of its golden share or those eleven ships. The Israeli government’s ability to preserve its regime of ethnic cleansing and apartheid ultimately depends on its smooth integration into the global capitalist system.

Corporations like Zim are lifelines that tie Israel to the “international community” of global trade. The Israeli economy is heavily dependent on exports, mostly to the US and Europe: A 2011 meeting of Israeli capitalists concluded that, if government policy doesn’t change dramatically, Israel eventually will face isolation on the order of what ended apartheid South Africa.

One of Israel’s largest global industries is the repression industry. Israel plays a critical role in supplying repressive regimes — from Pinochet to the Argentinean junta to the South African apartheid government, from the United States to Brazil to India — with the technology, weapons, strategies, and methods of repression that they need to repress their own populations and gain political and economic power through the exploitation of people and land across the globe.

However, beyond the war economy, according to the Israel Export Institute, “a worrying picture”: Israeli exports to the US have been declining for five consecutive quarters, falling 7 percent in the second quarter of 2014. The Palestine solidarity movement is moving from strength to strength. The protests of Zim, as the last big solidarity action in the wake of Israel’s counterinsurgency operation in the Gaza Strip, makes clear how ripe the situation is for an escalation of BDS action in the US and worldwide.

The keys to escalating BDS lie at the intersections of struggles. The progressive currents in organized labor are in many cases already sympathetic to Palestinians. It’s up to activists to reciprocate by being precise in our work, and ever mindful of the pressures union workers are under and their experience of corporate power.

It’s up to everyone who stands in solidarity with Palestinians to make connections. The Zim line imports Israeli-made ammunition into the US for use by police and the military. The bullets Israel routinely uses to kill Palestinians with impunity are the same bullets the US uses to kill black and brown people from Oakland to Ferguson to Afghanistan.

Zim is a key material link between the purveyors and the executors of imperial violence, between racist state repression at home and abroad. This year as last year, SWAT teams and military contractors from around the world convened in Oakland for the annual “Urban Shield” global training exercise and weapons expo. Like other such events, Israelis feature prominently at Urban Shield, often advertising their wares as field-tested on Palestinians.

This year, Urban Shield was met with fierce resistance from a coalition of hundreds of activists, from those organizing against local police brutality and mass incarceration to those organizing against Israeli militarism and apartheid.

Oakland won’t be hosting Urban Shield next year. And a glance at the Zim Pacific line’s schedule indicates there will be no Zim ships docking in California — not in the Bay Area, and not in Los Angeles — after the next Oakland Block the Boat action on October 25.

That’s what BDS looks like to me.

Palestinian Civil Society Salutes California Dockworkers and Endorses their “Block-the-Boat” BDS Action (BNC)


Palestinian Civil Society Salutes California Dockworkers and Endorses their “Block-the-Boat” BDS Action

Occupied Palestine, 23 September 2014 – The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian society and the reference for the global BDS  movement for Palestinian rights warmly salutes the Oakland, California dockworkers and community activists for their principled, ongoing and effective solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality. We wholeheartedly endorse the planned port action to take place later this month.

By blocking an Israeli Zim ship for four consecutive days in August, at the height of the Israeli massacre in Gaza, Oakland workers and activists succeeded in standing, in deed and in word, with the 1.8 million Palestinians in the besieged and occupied Strip.

The Call from Gaza that was issued on 5 September, the BNC and the main trade and professional unions, women’s associations and mass movements in Gaza, called for:

“Building effective direct action against Israel and Israeli companies, such as the inspiring Block the Boat actions that prevented Israeli ships from unloading in California and Seattle … .”

BDS National Committee (BNC)

Tampa activists protest ZIM cargo lines to showcase Israeli civil rights violations (Arab Daily News)

Tampa activists protest ZIM cargo lines to showcase Israeli civil rights violations

By Dezerey Lyn

(Guest contributor)


The following is a write up of the blockade action carried out by members of Block the Boat Tampa, Jewish Voice for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine USF, Students for a Democratic Society, Tampa Food not Bombs, Tampa Light Brigade, International Women’s Peace Service in Palestine and many others- included are photos taken by John Thomas of Occupy Tampa who also live streamed the event in its entirety:

In the early hours of Saturday morning, September 20th, activists from nearly a dozen organizations converged at the entrance way to the Port of Tampa to protest the incoming ZIM Alabama as Israel’s largest cargo shipping company. Our message to ZIM and to Israel is that we do not accept Israeli apartheid on our shores- Seeing that Operation Protective Edge, carried out by Israeli forces, just violently extinguished the lives of over 2,100 Palestinians- over 500 of them children, most of them completely innocent civilians who posed no threat whatsoever, the free, unabated transfer of goods and commerce from their shores to ours should not happen.

With flags, banners, signs, Tampa Light Brigade messaging and placards, we dozens on the ground immediately began a moving picket through every intersection, held ground at the mouth of the port and then united for a march inside the port where we were instantly flanked by police who worked quickly to surround chanting, singing blockaders with cones which were then pushed back twice. Protesters returned the push and many cones ended up on in piles laying on their sides by noon time.

Police immediately surrounded a Palestinian American woman and threatened to arrest her as she held her sign high. She refused to move, refused to allow the police to continue to work the cones back to keep protesters out of sight of eventually entrancing rank and file ILA Tampa local 1402 members. Two organizers of Block the Boat stood by her sides letting police know that if they were to arrest her, they would have multiple arrests to execute, this as a livestream tech recorded the confrontation. Police backed off and protesters continued to scream our resistance into the rainy early morning sky.

We received word that ILA members would not enter port until roughly 1pm as there was an unspecified 12 hour docking delay and 7-8 hour cargo unloading delay that was taking place. The convergence was broken as word spread like fire through social media for support on the ground when we converged again at noon.

At noon, many new faces had arrived and we prepared to enter the port once again. A second moving picket was established which ended in a soft block, slowing down massive trucks entering to move the incoming cargo to local receivers. A dozen blockaders marched backwards through the long entrance drive to the port holding massive banners addressing our resistance and personal messages to Longshoremen local.

As police stood by helplessly mocking the crowd, our day of solidarity with Palestine, from Gaza to the West Bank, and our furious resistance to Israeli apartheid and to US complicity in incremental genocide ended in a singing, drumming, chanting, moving picket line through toppled cones and our sights already set on the next blockade.









Support the fight to drive union busting out of Boston

Support the fight to drive union busting out of Boston!

If you’re following the Boston school bus drivers’ struggle, you know how courageously and fiercely this union is fighting Veolia.

The militant rank and file of USW Local 8751, the Boston School Bus Union, urgently need your personal and financial support. They are fighting Veolia, now renamed TransDev, a multi-national company based in France that runs segregated bus lines in the West Bank and seeks to privatize the world’s water supply. Since taking over the Boston School Bus management contract on July 1, 2013, Veolia has totally disregarded the union contract and worked overtime to union-bust Local 8751. On October 7, 2013 they locked out the members and unjustly terminated 4 of the local’s leaders. Since then the 4 and the rank and file have waged a relentless struggle to get the 4 rehired and against Veolia’s unfair labor practices and to defend their contract, including holding 3 massive solidarity day rallies. But Veolia has also escalated, bringing frame-up union-busting felony charges against Steve Kirschbaum, one of the four fired leaders and founder of the local, for conducting a union meeting in accordance with the union contract.


This Monday, the fighting women and men of Local 8751 PACKED Dorchester District Court, turning the pre-trial hearing for Steve Kirschbaum into a union hall — and the building’s front steps into a militant, raucous demonstration. This is a union whose rank-and-file does not quit!

What you may not know is that the unemployment benefits of the four fired drivers have long expired. The fired leaders – Steve Kirschbaum, Garry Murchison, Andre Francois and Steve Gillis – are attempting to wage this struggle AND carry out union duties without their former school bus income.

On behalf of the union, we are requesting help with the crowdsourcing campaign in support of these fired drivers.

This means, above all, taking a few moments to share this appeal with everyone you know.

If you can contribute $10, $15 or $50, please do so. The most important thing, though, is to help spread the word.

Trumped-up FELONY charges remain against Local 8751’s grievance chair and founder, Steve Kirschbaum – and a fraudulent campaign to disbar Kirschbaum’s lawyer, Barry Wilson, is now under way.

Helping the Boston school bus drivers prevail will be necessary to preserving an outstanding progressive local who fights for union rights as well as for LGBTQ rights and Palestine. It’s also necessary for keeping Kirschbaum out of jail and fighting in the revolutionary struggle.

Most of all, a victory in Boston could be the turning-point spark that helps turn back the onslaught of austerity and push our class in a fightback direction.

In a crowdsourcing campaign, everyone can participate — whether they are able to contribute money or not. Send an e-mail to help get the fired school bus drivers their jobs back, beat back the frame-up charges against Steve Kirschbaum, and win a just contract for the union!

Partial LIST OF ENDORSERS for the Boston School Bus Drivers’ Campaign to

Reinstate the 4 Fired Union Leaders of USW Local 8751 – Drop the Frame-Up Charges on Grievance Committee Chair Kirschbaum – A Just and Fair Contract – Stop Veolia Union-Busting

(list in formation 9/15/14)

United Steel Workers
Steven A Tolman, President, Massachusetts AFL-CIO
Ramsey Clark, Former US Attorney General
Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Councilmember
United Steel Workers, Local 8751
Andrew Slipp, Staff Representative, United Steel Workers, District 4
Mel King
IBEW Local 2222 (Telephone workers union)
Myles Calvey, Business Manager, IBEW Local 2222
Boston Pride At Work
Rich Rogers, Secretary-Treasurer, Greater Boston Labor Council
Charles Yancey, Boston City Councillor
Chuck Turner, former Boston City Councillor
Johnnie McInnis, President, Black Educators Alliance of MA*
San Francisco School Bus Drivers, UTU 1741
Charles Clemons, TOUCH 106.1, Boston
San Francisco Labor Council
Amalgamated Transit Workers Union, Local 1555, BART Workers (San Francisco/Oakland)
Troy Area Central Labor Council
Boilermakers Local 29 (Boston)
Nick Giannone III, Executive Board, Boilermakers Local 29
UE Local 150, North Carolina Public Service Workers Union
Clarence Thomas, Executive Board, ILWU Local 10*
Joel Funfar, IFPTE Vice President, Local 2001, SPEEA
(Seattle Professional Engineering Employees Association)*
Coalition for Equal Quality Education
Veterans for Peace – Smedley Butler Brigade (Boston)
Susanna Smith, Stop Veolia Seattle*
Susan Mortimer, Mass Prison Voice, Arlington, MA*
Anne Slater, National President, Radical Women*
Dave Welsh, Delegate, San Francisco Labor Council*
Michael Letwin, Labor for Palestine; NYC Labor Against the War
Carl Gentile, National Representative, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFL-CIO)*
Postal Defenders
Jose A. Rosado, ATU, Local 587*
Max Veckich, Local 52, ILWU*
Linda Averill, Shop Steward, ATU Local 587, Seattle*
Susan Williams, Doctors Council, SEIU Local 10MD*
Diane Sabeghi, SEIU Local 221, San Diego*
Scott Houldieson, UAW Local 551*
Rosendo Delgado, Steward, UAW Local 412, Unit 1*
Howie Rotman, 1199SEIU Activist, former President AFSCME 1489, former Chapter Chair 1199SEIU at Boston Medical Center, AFRAM Member 1199SEIU
Judy Wraight, Former Tool and Die Executive Board Member, UAW Local 600*
Ron Lare, Former Executive Board Member, UAW Local 600*
Wendy Thompson, UAW Local 22*
Honorable David Maynard, Hillsborough County Water & Conservation Board, FL*
Shane Hoff, San Francisco Labor Council Delegate for UTU 1741, San Francisco School Bus Drivers*
Joe Piette, Community-Labor United for Postal Jobs and Services- Philadelphia
Joe Lombardo, Delegate, Troy Area Central Labor Council*
Johnnie Stevens, Community Labor United for Postal Jobs & Services*
Andre Powell, Delegate, Baltimore Central Labor Council*
Sharon Eolis, NYSNA former Grievance Chair at Cabrini Medical Center
May 1 Coalition
Sara Flounders, International Action Center
Frank Neisser, Peoples Power Assemblies, Boston
Brian Shea, WW Disability Caucus
Carl Finamore, Delegate SF Labor Council, IAMAW 1781*
Sara Catalinotto, Parents to Improve School Transportation, NYC*
Paul Bigman, Executive Board, Martin Luther King County Labor Council*
Sue Harris, Peoples Video Network, NYC
Rabat Abdulhadi, California Faculty Association
Douglas Spalding, Founding Member, SEIU Local 790a
Mike Kuhlenbeck, National Writers Union UAW 1981, Iowa*
Patrick Burns, Steering Committee, Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity, Seattle
Len Cooper, Secretary, Communication Workers Union, Australia
International Socialist Organization, Boston Branch
John Spritzler, People for Democratic Revolution, Boston*
Joseph Hancock, Party of Communists*
Ben Atteberry, IWW, Nevada*
Richard Krushnic, SEIU Local 888*
Tiamba M. Wilkerson, Amherst, MA, UMass Amherst PhD Student, GEO-UAW member*
Phil Wilayto, Editor, The Virginia Defender, Richmond, VA
Christine Williams. Former TWU Local 100 Executive Board Member 2010-2012*
Marty Goodman, Former TWU Local 100 Executive Board Member
Jaime Veve, Organizer, Ret., TWU Local 100
Mara Taub, Coalition for Prisoners Rights, NM*
Gloria Rubac, Steward, Houston Federation of Teachers Local 2415, Retired*
Kim Scipes, Chicago Chapter, National Writers Union, UAW #1981*
Minnie Bruce Pratt, National Writers Union, UAW 1981*
Susan E. Davis, National Writers Union, UAW 1981*
Mahtowin Munro, co-leader, United American Indians of New England*
Martha Grevatt, Alternate Shop Committeeperson, UAW Local 869*
Mike Gimbel, Chair, Labor/Community Unity Committee, Local 375, AFSCME*
Janet Van Fleet,  AFSCME, Local 2083, Seattle*
Resa Gross, Retired AFSCME Member, Baltimore, MD
Moratorium Now! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs
Michigan Emergency Coalition Against War and Injustice
Stop the Theft of Our Pensions Committee
Susan Schnur, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 268*
David Sole, Former President, UAW Local 2334
Autoworker Caravan
Liza Green, Women’s Fightback Network, Boston
Michael Ladson, Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST)
Angela Smith, Co-Founder and National Coordinator, HEAL-ONLINE.ORG*
Brendan Anderson, Metro Transit*, White Bear Lake, MN
Jane Kentner, OH
Carolyn Poinelli, Boston
Rose Rivers, Chicago
Chris McConkey, Trumansburg, NY
Lewie Patrie, Ashville, NYC
Martha & John Stoltenberg, WI
Toni Caldwell-Clark, Kansas City
Zeri Bishop, Portland, OR
R. Zwarich, Brookfield, MA
Tim Allport, Arvada, CO
Beverly Wendling, North Freedom, WI
Tana Amstutz, Leander, TX
Veronica Norton, Acworth, GA
Dexter Arnold, Nashua, NH
Linda Horan, Alstead, NH

Appeal of Algeria’s UGTA and PT for the Unconditional, Total and Immediate Lifting of the Blockade of Gaza

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 7.48.49 PMWORKERS PARTY OF ALGERIA (PT)

Algiers, 14 September 2014

To workers, to labour activists,
To defenders of democratic rights

Unconditional, Total and Immediate Lifting of the Blockade of Gaza!
Immediate End to All War Measures Against Gaza!

The peoples and workers of the entire world have been horrified by the killing and mass destruction inflicted by Israel and its army on Gaza and the whole of the Palestinian people, unleashing a deluge of fire that lasted 51 days. The macabre tally: 2,150 dead, around 12,000 seriously injured; 20,000 homes destroyed, throwing 25 percent of Gaza’s inhabitants onto the street; and all basic infrastructure destroyed (schools, hospitals, factories, roads, universities, etc.), resulting in the destruction of 200,000 jobs.

The peoples and workers of the whole world do not agree that the majority of western governments, beginning with the Obama administration, should arm and support Israel, which is guilty of genuine genocide.

The workers and peoples do not agree that several governments, especially a certain number of Arab regimes in the Middle East, should serve as accomplices in this crime against humanity.

Do the Palestinian people have the right to live? Because what the Palestinian people are demanding is what the peoples of the whole world are demanding: land, peace, freedom and re-establishing their unity as a nation.

On every continent, notably in Europe, in the United States, in Latin America, in the Maghreb, in the Middle East, in Japan, Pakistan, South Africa and elsewhere, powerful demonstrations bringing together tens of thousands — sometimes hundreds of thousands — of workers and youth have demanded an end to the killing, an end to the bombing, and the lifting of the blockade that has been strangling Gaza since 2006.

And while Israeli Jews were also demonstrating in their thousands in Tel Aviv to condemn the war on Gaza, hundreds and hundreds of Jewish survivors of the Nazi genocide and their descendants in Europe and the United States declared:

“As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. . . .

“Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water. We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. . . .

“‘Never again’ must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!”

They are right. And the international mobilisation has helped the Palestinian people, through their resistance, to force Israel to take a step back, including a partial lifting of the blockade and ending the bombing.

But the Israeli aggression against the battered Palestinian people is continuing through mass arrests, assassinations, incursions by the Israeli army, the continuation of the blockade and the confiscation of Palestinian land in order to extend the Jewish settlements, while starving and ghettoising the Palestinian populations even further. This is occurring at a time when the inhabitants of Gaza, which is completely devastated, find themselves in total destitution, deprived of a roof over their heads, of food, water and electricity — in short, they are facing death.

The General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA) and the Workers Party (PT), which in Algeria are organising the labour and popular mobilisation in defence of Gaza, solemnly appeal to all the organisations of the international labour movement, from north to south and from east to west, to all activists, to all defenders of democratic rights, to all defenders of peace and fraternity between peoples:

– Let us together demand the satisfaction of the vital aspirations of the Palestinian people,

– Let us support the unanimous aspiration of the Palestinian people: “We do not want to die a slow death.”

There can be no peace without the unconditional, total and immediate lifting of the blockade, without the rebuilding of the factories, infrastructure and homes that have been destroyed, without the unconditional re-establishment of the right to fish, without the right to have ports and an airport, without the means for hospitals and schools to operate, without the right to a job, without the right of smallholders to cultivate their land, without the right to electricity and water. . . .

There can be no peace without an end to the repression, without the freeing of the detainees, who include 262 children and many women and people who are ill.

We say: It is the particular responsibility of the organisations of the labour movement throughout the world to put an end to the helping hand provided by every government in support of Israel, its army, and its murderous frenzy.

On this basis, we call for every necessary initiative to be taken to put an end to this murderous frenzy.


Louisa Hanoune
General Secretary, Workers Party (PT)

Abdelmadjid Sidi Saïd
General Secretary, General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA)
Vice-President of the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity

Vancouver Canada Blocks Israeli Ship: Tremendous Victory (FPM)

Free Palestine Movement FPM

Vancouver Canada Blocks Israeli Ship: Tremendous Victory

10-SEP-2014 CORRECTION: We apologize for erroneous information in the item below. Although the sequence of the boat actions is correct, there was no picket line or blockade. Instead, the organizers provided information to the union, ILWU Local 502, and its members, including flyers distributed at the Deltaport facility. Beyond that, we have no information on how and why the ship was turned away, but it seems probable that it was on the basis of a union decision.

Currently, after trying to dock at Port Angeles, the ship has returned to a stationary position off the coast of British Columbia, and is listing a destination of Vancouver but an ETA that has already passed.

Please accept our regrets for the false information.

9-SEP-2014 ORIGINAL POST: In a four-day standoff pitting human rights groups and organized labor against Israeli shipping giant Zim, the giant was defeated today in Vancouver, Canada.

The huge container ship Zim Djibouti first docked at the high-tech Deltaport facility on September 5, only to discover that the workers had agreed to respect a picket line set up by human rights advocates. The coalition of picketers, under the name Block the Boat Vancouver, were trying to prevent the unloading and loading of the ship, as a solidarity protest against Israel’s 47-year blockade of the port of Gaza and the recent Israeli sttack on Gaza that killed more than 2000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, as well as 72 Israelis, almost all soldiers.

The ship then returned to open water along the Pacific coast and stayed there several days, until midnight last night. At that time it set course for Port Angeles, on the US side of the passage to Vancouver. By unloading at an unexpected US port, the company apparently hoped to circumvent the blockade.

It didn’t work. Perhaps the logistics of arranging passage by land through another country for the hazardous cargo on board was too much, or perhaps the docking facilities were inadequate for the huge ship, but it turned back and returned to the open sea. At the time of this report, it has still failed to declare a new destination and arrival time.

This is a huge victory for the Vancouver coalition, undoubtedly costing Zim enormous sums in fuel, delays, and having to carry excess cargo to unintended destinations, impeding the other operations. It also continues the string of Block the Boat actions at ports on the US west coast that began with the August picket in Oakland, California of another Zim ship that ended with similar results.

Let’s all congratulate Vancouver and encourage ports all over the world to refuse Israeli ships and ships from Israeli companies. Customers will have to think twice about using an Israeli line for their cargo, as delivery becomes less certain. Hopefully this is just the beginning of a world wide
campaign against Zim and all other Israeli shipping, until Israel reconsiders its policy of blocking all shipping to and from Gaza.

Barcelona Dockworkers Salute ILWU Local 10 and 34

Letter from Barcelona to ILWU

Carrer del Mar, 97 – 08003 – Barcelona -Tel. 93 221 58 23 – Fax 93 221 65 88\

Barcelona, September 5, 2014

ILWU International Longshoremen Workers Union

Locals 1 0 and 34

Dear brothers and sisters,

On behalf of the dockworkers of Barcelona, Spain, we want to congratulate you on the actions of the past summer, in support of the Palestinian struggle for survival. With your solidarity you did your bit to stop the slaughter that the Israeli government was perpetrating on the civilian population of Gaza.

As workers we are aware that we must build the tools that allow us to make this world a better place to live, not only defending our rights, but also those denouncing unfair wars whose main victims are civilians. Such actions are those that give real meaning to our unions.

Comrades, receive our fraternal greetings. Oakland longshore solidarity action should be an inspiration for dockworkers around the world.

Yours in solidarity,

Jordi Aragunde Miguens Delegate from Barcelona and member of the International Area of La Coordinadora, Spain.

The unpublicized impact of a successful BDS action (Alakhbar English)

There is no question as to how immensely successful the Block the Boat protest at the Port of Oakland, led by Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) and arranged with the help of countless organizations, was. Unless you are a supporter of Israel or a journalist at the Oakland Tribune. Thousands of protesters, including an estimated 5,000 who marched on the Port of Oakland on August 16, prevented the Zim Piraeus from unloading by keeping workers from crossing their picket line to enter the port for a historic four days, making it “the longest blockade of an Israeli ship” according to AROC.

The Oakland Tribune, Haaretz, and a number of other outlets, reported that the Israeli-owned Zim Piraeus unloaded its cargo after “delays” but after speaking to a number of distributors whose cargo was being transported by Zim Piraeus I found this to be unmistakably false and misleading.

According to a document from PIERS, a database of US international trade which provides maritime logistics, at least 23 companies are clearly listed as having goods aboard Zim Piraeus – ranging from cucumber pickles and sparkling wine to ceramic tiles and solar swimming pool heaters – with some goods originating in Israel. Though building materials and agricultural produce were listed by PIERS it should be noted that Zim Integrated Shipping Services imports ammunition “manufactured by Israel Manufacturing Industries by Federal Cartridge (Federal Premium Ammunition)” which makes defense ammunition used by U.S. law enforcement and has a weapons contract with the Department of Homeland Security. Federal Premium Ammunition is a subsidiary of Alliant Techsystems, which produces Bushmaster autocannons used by U.S. forces and NATO, the AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (an air-to-surface missile), Hellfire missile upgrades, and provides other weapons services to the US military and allies. The import report for Zim shows that the ammunitions originated in Israel, at the Port of Haifa and arrived at the Port of Savannah in Georgia.

Zim’s first ship, the Kedmah, was purchased in 1947, before the creation of the State of Israel, and would carry thousand of immigrants to Palestine. In 1948 Zim ships would carry arms and ammunition used to carry out the Nakba, and according to a video published online by Zim Integrated Shipping Services “Zim would play this crucial role every time Israel faced conflict.” Ze’ev Shind, a key Mossad activist who would become managing director of Zim Israel Navigation Co., president of the American-Israel Shipping Co., and Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Defense was the organizers and principal figures organizing immigration to Palestine, according to The Canadian Jewish Chronicle. The role of Zim in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is well documented, even by Zim sources.

Esteson Co., a direct food and beverage importer and distributor in California, posted on their Facebook page that their “garlic is now rotting on its way to Russia to be offloaded unto (sic) another vessel,” and when contacted for comment it was mentioned that a container of Zeos beer never arrived due to the Port action. All in all, Esteson Co. has not receivedany of their products as of September 3.

Good Stuff Distributors, located in San Francisco, California, told Al-Akhbar English that not only did they not receive their shipment of Zadona cucumber pickles as of September 3 they do not know where the cargo is and are still waiting to hear from Zadona as to where the items are. A spokesperson for Good Stuff Distributors informed Al-Akhbar English that not only were they unaware of Zim’s ties to Israel they have made it clear to Zadona, of Sinokrot Food Company, that they are to “find another vessel” as Good Stuff Distributors will no longer be using Zim.

Alfa Omega Co., which has trading partners in France, Spain and Greece, disclosed to Al-Akhbar English that their business was “greatly affected”, as they did not receive any of their products, including olives. The spokesperson was clearly unhappy, stating that the targeting of Zim by the Block the Boat protesters, specifically, is the reason that they will now look for another vessel to use for their products, despite having worked with Zim “for years”.

The sales and marketing manager at Carmichael International Service, a customs broker and freight forwarder with laminated glass aboard Zim Piraeus, told Al-Akhbar English that customers did not receive their products as of September 3, but it was due to “delays” and “port congestion,” which is undoubtedly a brazen spin on what transpired at the Port of Oakland. When examining the vessel schedule for the Zim Piraeus, dating back to July and after August 20, we find that there are no analogous delays as there was in Oakland as the vessels usually left the same day or a day after, unlike at the Port of Oakland where the “delay” was at least four days long.

Cynara Worldwide Sourcing Inc., located in Fresno, California, said that all products on the Zim Piraeus were not only never unloaded but that they were sent to Shanghai and they wouldn’t receive them until at least the end of the month. As a result of Block the Boat, the spokesperson told Al-Akhbar English that they have put an immediate halt to “everything on Zim” and will now be looking for other vessels they can use.

The most curious case in regards to Block the Boat is that of American Metals and Chemicals, located in Hollywood, Florida. A representative told Al-Akhbar English that they did not receive their shipment of alkyl sulfonic acid, and that the cargo was diverted to Russia. When asked who they were contacted by the representative stated that a letter was delivered from an attorney’s office, though they could not find the letter at the time of the phonecall so as to disclose which office. The letter stated, in part, that their shipment was “turned away because of the strike” at the Port of Oakland. There was also a follow up telephone call from the same office, letting them know that their products were being diverted.

The remaining consignees listed as having cargo delivered to the Port of Oakland by the Zim Piraeus during the Block the Boat campaign were contacted by Al-Akhbar English but did not immediately return calls for comment on the whereabouts of their goods – based on what was revealed by the 6 companies that did supply information it is not difficult to assume that they faced comparable circumstances. Regardless, Block the Boat was not only successful in keeping the Zim Piraeus from unloading the aforementioned cargo but due specifically to this action a number of companies are now either putting a hold on all products using Zim vessels or reconsidering using Zim, which is not only contrary to what the media has reported but an impressive achievement for the movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

Roqayah Chamseddine is a Sydney based Lebanese-American journalist and commentator. She tweets @roqchams and writes ‘Letters From the Underground.