Monthly Archives: October 2014

Transport Workers Solidarity Committee’s response to ILWU International’s Statements on ZIM Protests

Transport Workers Solidarity Committee’s response to ILWU International’s Statements on ZIM Protests

Recent ILWU press releases and public statements are misleading and conflict with well-established ILWU policies and positions on Palestine and Israel. The editor of the ILWU newspaper, The Dispatcher, at the direction of the ILWU President, can not overturn those policies and positions without a vote by Convention delegates.

The Israeli Consulate’s statement that the ZIM Pireaus sailed from the port of Oakland on August 20 after completing cargo operations is untrue. But for the ILWU Communications Director, Craig Merrilees, to make that same statement, reaffirming the Zionist’s self-serving distortion places the ILWU on the side of those responsible for the recent slaughter of over 2,100 Palestinians, most of them innocent Gazan civilians. The false statement implies that the 5-days of picketing by thousands of protesters had no impact on cargo operations. The original call for a mass protest on August 16 and 17, mobilizing a few thousand was made by a coalition, Block the Boat, initiated by the Arab Research and Organizing Committee. However, subsequent picketing on August 18, 19 and 20 that stopped the ship’s cargo operations was done spontaneously by a smaller group of Bay Area activists, including the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee.

The truth is that after failing to gets its cargo worked at the SSA terminal, ZIM Lines tried to fool protesters that the ship was sailing to Russia, but longshoremen knew otherwise. The ship departed August 19, headed out the Golden Gate at night then abruptly reversed course, made a Williamson turn and headed back to the Port of Oakland, this time to Berth 22. Ports America, the employer, tried to shift longshore workers from another ship to work the ZIM Pireaus but there already was a picket line at the terminal gate. Some ILWU Local 10 members refused to work the ship. Those that reluctantly worked it, despite pressure from the employer and union officials, rebelled by slowing down cargo ops to a crawl. One crane operator boasted that barely 1% of containers was actually moved before the ZIM ship was forced to sail.

On September 27, another ZIM ship, the Shanghai, was picketed on the day and night shifts at SSA by 200 protesters mobilized by the Stop ZIM Action Committee and the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee. Three of the organizers were Local 10 retirees, veterans of ILWU’s 1984 anti-apartheid action in San Francisco. Again, Merrilees put out untrue statements, claiming longshore workers were threatened by picketers and were standing by on safety. Actually, an appeal was made in the union hiring hall that morning asking longshoremen not to work the ZIM ship and informing them of a picket line. In a show of solidarity all longshoremen refused Zim jobs except for one. In the evening SSA agreed to remove police from the picketing area if the union would dispatch the jobs. With no police presence it was the picketers and longshore supporters vs ZIM and SSA. We won hands down!

On September 27, the ILWU International issued a press release falsely stating “ the leadership and membership of the ILWU have taken no position on the Israel/Gaza conflict.” The truth is that ILWU passed a Convention resolution in 1988 characterizing Israeli oppression of Palestinians as “state-sponsored terrorism”. ILWU’s 1991 resolution condemns Zionist “suppression of basic freedoms of speech and assembly” of Palestinians and calls for the “right of self-determination”.

Israel has blockaded the port of Gaza since 1967, stopping all ships and putting port workers and longshoremen out of work for nearly 50 years. In 2002, Local 10 officers signed a statement “For International Labor Solidarity to Stop Zionist Repression and Build a Just Peace” to protest the Zionist bombing of the headquarters of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions in the West Bank city of Nablus.

The Journal of Commerce (August 20), the maritime bosses’ newspaper, quoted Communications Director Merrilees: “ILWU members felt threatened by the large number of demonstrators” and made a similar statement regarding the September dock protest. But the truth is the threat to longshoremen comes from the police not protesters. As Local 10 president Melvin Mackay told the San Francisco Chronicle, longshoremen would not work the ship “under armed police escort—not with our experience with the police…”

In a 2003 court case against the Oakland Police Department for shooting so-called “non-lethal” weapons at longshore workers and anti-war protesters, ILWU attorney Rob Remar meticulously documented coordinated police violence against longshore workers since the 1934 Maritime Strike in which two strikers were killed by cops, provoking the San Francisco General Strike. Nowadays ILWU International officers try to deny our militant history and undermine any semblance of class struggle on the docks, especially in the midst of the current contract negotiations. With no contract in place longshoremen can take job actions during negotiations to bolster the union at the bargaining table but the “top down” bureaucracy has reigned in the ranks, preventing the union from flexing its muscle.

Nevertheless, Local 10 has tried to continue ILWU’s proud history of solidarity actions by introducing a resolution at the 2009 Convention “commending the South African dockworkers union for taking a strike action against an Israeli ship in Durban to protest the massacre of 1400 Palestinians by the Israeli army in Gaza”. A year after the Convention resolution passed unanimously, the Local 10 Executive Board voted to “call on the ILWU International officers to lend their voice in protest with other unions against this atrocity by issuing a policy statement in line with the ILWU’s past position on the question of Israeli repression of Palestinians and call for unions to protest by any action they choose to take.” That motion paved the way for Local 10 longshoremen in 2010 in collaboration with anti-Zionist demonstrators to conduct the first-ever job action by an American trade union protesting repressive Israeli government policies. Meanwhile, ILWU International officers have only reaffirmed Israel’s press statements and run a biased pro-Israel article in The Dispatcher (January 2007) by International Secretary-Treasurer Willie Adams with no mention of the plight of Palestinians. It’s time for ILWU International officers to get on board: Oppose apartheid in Israel just as we did in South Africa. The rank and file have shown the way.

Palestine is calling us to action! (Block the Boat Oakland)

October 2, 2014 AROC 10:25

We are building a boycott, divest, and sanction movement against Apartheid Israel and taking our action to the Port of Oakland. We are asking the longshoreman to honor the call from Palestinian laborers and to stand with the people of Palestine just as they did during Apartheid South Africa. ILWU workers made history when they refused to unload South African cargo in San Francisco in 1984.

This action was a major catalyst for global anti-apartheid solidarity movement. We continued this legacy in 2010, and again in August 2014 when the Bay Area made history at the Port of Oakland with the longest ever blockade of an Israeli ship.

The Israeli owned ZIM shipping line regularly docks and unloads its cargo at the Port of Oakland. ZIM shipping line was not only instrumental in the creation of the state of Israel and ethnic cleansing of Palestine, but it also is responsible for shipping Israeli weaponry that is used on poor, black and brown communities all across the US. As we challenge militarism and policing from Ferguson to Oakland, lets also take a stand against the relationship between Israel and the US and its impact on our communities.

Join us as we build on our historic victory against Zionism and continue to put pressure on the apartheid state of Israel by blocking the ZIM ship on October 25, 2014.

Stop Zim Action Committee Letter of Thanks to ILWU Local 10 Workers at Oakland Port


Stop ZIM Action Committee

October 2, 2014
Brothers and Sisters of ILWU Local 10,

We, members and supporters of the Stop Zim Action Committee, want to express our gratitude to Local 10 members, who in the best tradition of the ILWU, upheld the principle of labor solidarity by honoring our picket line against the ZIM Shanghai on September 27.

We were protesting the Israeli government’s genocidal bombings of Palestinians in Gaza that killed over 2,100 people, mostly civilians, as we had informed Local 10 members by leafleting at the union hall. Thanks to your support, day and night, we were able to send a clear message to the Israeli government that when they slaughter innocent Palestinian people, their ships will be targeted by protest actions. This is consistent with ILWU Local 10’s position of defending the rights of Palestinians.

Three of the picketing protesters were Local 10 retirees who were organizers of ILWU’s historic 1984 anti-apartheid action in San Francisco. One of them announced to a rally at the picket at SSA’s Berth 57 that an announcement had been made at the dispatch hall requesting longshoremen not to take jobs on the ZIM ship. The rally broke into thunderous applause as it was reported that only one job was filled.

We know ILWU doesn’t have a longshore contract yet and actions like this can be taken by the union without legal retaliation from the employer. There could not have been a stronger showing of support than longshore workers refusing to take a dispatch to the ZIM ship. In return for your solidarity we offer to mobilize ourselves and others from the community to be on your picket line if successful contract negotiations are not achieved and ILWU goes on strike. We’ve got your back!

An Injury to One is an Injury to All!

Stop ZIM Action Committee

Updates on October 25th Block the Boat (Oakland)



Block the Boat Oakland Call to Action

Take the wind out of Zim’s sails!
Zionism isn’t welcome on our coast!
Join the BDS movement to end Israeli Apartheid!

Port of Oakland
Saturday, October 25th
Meet at West Oakland Bart and march to Berth 57

IMPORTANT: Those planning to participate must subscribe to text-alerts in order to receive updates about the 10/25 Block the Boat. Text “join” to (510) 346-5951.


What’s Happening?

This summer, we made history at the Port of Oakland when we stopped the Israeli-owned shipping company Zim from unloading its goods for four straight days. The blockade was a catalyst for cities all over the U.S. and across the globe in the ever-growing BDS movement to resist Zionism and end Israeli apartheid.

The military assault on Gaza—which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians and left more than 100,000 homeless—has halted, thanks to the Palestinian resistance, but our struggle is not over. With the full support of the U.S. government, Israel continues to carry out its brutal occupation, confiscate more land and build more settlements, imprison thousands of Palestinians, and maintain the siege on Gaza as part of its policy of ethnic cleansing.

The apartheid state of Israel not only impacts Palestinians, but also plays a role in the oppression of communities all across the globe. The Zim shipping line is instrumental in upholding this system of global repression. There are direct ties—training, weapons, and surveillance—between Israel’s occupation of Palestine and the increasingly militarized occupation of black and brown communities in the United States. And it is now a well-known fact that police departments in and around Ferguson, Missouri, have received training from Israel.

Why Block Zim at the Ports?

ZIM shipping line transported weapons and European settlers from as far back as1948, playing a central role in the creation of the state of Israel and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Now it’s responsible for shipping Israeli ammunition used on poor, black and brown communities all across the US. One-third owned by the Israeli government, Zim fuels a significant portion of Israel’s economy. Challenging Zim cuts a lifeline of Israeli colonialism and exposes the strength of US-Israeli ties.

Ports have historically been places for workers to assert their power and make social change. During apartheid in South Africa, ILWU workers refused to unload South African cargo in San Francisco in 1984. This action was a major catalyst for international anti-apartheid solidarity that helped topple the apartheid regime of South Africa.

We built on that legacy at the Port of Oakland in 2010, after a Turkish flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, was attacked by Israel for attempting to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza, by successfully blocking a Zim ship from being unloaded—the first time in US history an Israeli ship was blocked. And recently, we made history again with the 2014 Block the Boat campaign, stopping Zim and Zionism and the port of Oakland for four consecutive days. Just as apartheid fell in South Africa, so too it will fall in Israel!

Call to Action!

Israel was defeated by the resistance and resilience of the people of Gaza. We are inspired as they rebuild and continue to affirm life in the aftermath of Israel’s latest bombardment. Palestinian resistance did not begin with Israel’s latest bombardment—it has been going on since 1948, since Israel came into existence. And it will not cease until Israeli apartheid falls. It is now more important than ever to continue to weaken the racist state of Israel and bring down apartheid.

Palestinians are unified in their call to people around the world to take action against Israel everywhere. Bay Area residents have the opportunity to up the ante and be leaders in the movement for justice in Palestine!

We salute the longshoreman who stood with the Palestinian people by honoring our Block the Boat picket and refusing to unload Zim in August, and for doing so again during another successful picket in September. We will be asking workers to once again join with us in sending a message to the world that Zionism is not welcome at the Port of Oakland. Join us!

Join the Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions!

From Oakland to Seattle, Los Angeles, Vancouver, New York, New Orleans, and Tampa—turn the Israeli ship around!

We encourage allies in cities across the US to join us in building on our historic victory against Zionism by ensuring that Zim ships are not welcome anywhere!

Not in Palestine
Not in the Bay
Not Anywhere
Stand Against Zionism Everywhere

Endorsed by:

Addameer: Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Organization
Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition USA
All African People’s Revolutionary Party
Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC)
ANSWER Coalition
Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel
Critical Resistance Los Angeles
Freedom Archives
Freedom Socialist Party
Friends of Sabeel–North America (FOSNA)
Haiti Action Committee
International Action Center
International Jewish Anti Zionist Network (IJAN)
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Labor for Palestine
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
New York City Labor Against the War
NorCal Friends of Sabeel
Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC)
Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM)
Queers Undermining Israeli Terror (QUIT)
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
SF Women in Black
The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN)
Workers World Party

Please email with subject “Endorse Block the Boat” to add your organization.