( – promoted by buhdydharma )
“No Peace, No Work!”
That’s the message being sent by the ILWU, the West Coast-based International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
I only found out about this from a diary over at Planet Orange by Sarge in Seattle, and if this event has already been featured and discussed here, I apologize. I also apologize in advance if I am violating site standards by reposting the Kossack’s diary here; but this is so important I felt I should, as I would not plagiarize his and rewrite it as if it were my own. So here goes…
War Protest: Westcoast Longshoremen to Close Ports
by Sarge in Seattle [Subscribe]
Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 04:40:12 PM EDT
I received this letter by email. The letter is a couple of weeks old, so, if this is old news to anyone, my apologies. I hadn’t heard anything about this, so I thought others might want to know.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
SF Chronicle Submissions
Letters to the Editor
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.
Sarge in Seattle’s diary :: ::
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.
The war in Iraq is, as much as anything, an economic one. Recall how adamant the neocon cheerleaders were with their prognostications on how cheap this war would be, that it would cost in the tens of millions of dollars, and Iraqi oil would pay for the reconstruction. Remember how necessary it was for them to insure us that we wouldn’t be taxed.
The war was made possible by a marketing effort that convinced the American people it could be done on the cheap. Still, five years later, our Government refuses to ask the citizens of this country to pay for the war, preferring to borrow the money, saddling my children and yours with crushing debt on top of the massive long term liabilities for returning veterans.
There’s no such thing as a free war, and our economy is starting to pay the price.
The reason this war is going to end is because an end is now in the best financial interests of the American people. God damn us! We choose war – CHOOSE WAR – so long as we can get it on the cheap and it creates jobs and protects our oil interests in the mideast.
I applaud the longshoremen, and any other group that can hit the financial interests of Americans if it will help speed up the end to this occupation in Iraq.
Dick Cheney was wrong. Americans do have the stomach for war. We just don’t have the stomach to pay for it.
Do you think the longshoremen strike is legitimate?
98% 66 votes
1% 1 votes
[End of Sarge in Seattle’s diary.]