May 1 solidarity anti-war protest at Hilo docks 4-5:30PM
Malu `Aina Center For Non-violent Education & Action
P.O. Box AB
`Ola`a (Kurtistown), Hawaii 96760
Published on Thursday, May 1, 2008 by The Los Angeles Times
Dockworkers Take May Day Off, Idling All West Coast Ports
by Louis Sahagun
Thousands of dockworkers at all 29 West Coast ports, including Los
Angeles and Long Beach, took the day off work today in what their
union called a protest of the war in Iraq, effectively shutting down
operations at the busy complexes.
The action came two months before the contract expires between the
dockworkers, represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse
Union, and the Pacific Maritime Assn., which represents port
operators and large shippers, many of them foreign-owned.
"We are supporting the troops and telling politicians in Washington
that it's time to end the war in Iraq," said union President Bob
McEllrath, whose comments came in a press release handed out by union
officials in the Port of Los Angeles area, said rank-and-file members
decided in early January to stand down on May 1.
The dockworkers' action also affected ports in Oakland, Seattle and
San Diego, and was expected to last between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The
dockworkers do virtually all the work involved in loading and
unloading freight between ships and the port, handling containers
brimming with toys, clothing, computers and automobiles.
As a result, big rig operators were being turned away at terminal
gates. Among them was Santo Calderon, 48, who was turned away at the
TraPac terminal in San Pedro.
He was greeted by a security guard who simply said, "We're closed."
Before climbing back into his truck cab and leaving, Calderon shook
his head and said, "I'm going to call my dispatcher and see if there
is some other place open. If not, I'll go back to the yard and rest
the whole day. There is nothing else to do."
Asked to explain why he was turning trucks away, a TraPac security
guard, with a wave of his hand, simply said, "What you see behind me
is all I can say about what's going on."
He was referring to the rare sight of 400-foot cranes standing still
and harbor roads devoid of truck traffic, empty parking lots and an
eerie quiet on the waterfront.
The Pacific Maritime Assn. had complained about the union's planned
action with an arbitrator, which had ordered the union to go to work
today. The maritime association said the union's activity was a
violation of its contract obligation.
A dispute between the maritime association and the dockworkers
paralyzed West Coast ports for 10 days in 2002.
Two years ago today, activity at the ports was crippled when
thousands of truckers stayed away from work in protest of U.S.
immigration policy. The port truck drivers predominantly Latinos
acted individually in participating in the "Day Without Immigrants,"
which also shuttered thousands of Latino-owned businesses throughout
the region and country.
At the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation's busiest, as
few as 10% of the truckers showed up to haul freight that day.
Longshore workers, however, continued loading and unloading ships.
Longshore Union Strikes Against War
Solidarity: "An injury to one is an injury to all"
Today, May 1, 2008 the International Longshore and Warehouse Union will declare an eight-hour strike to
protest the war in Iraq. Since the ILWU controls every port along the U.S. Pacific Coast, including Seattle
and Tacoma, this strike demonstrates the collective power of workers willing to use it. The ILWU is demanding "an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East." Although the majority of Americans repeatedly have expressed their desire to end the war, President Bush has not obliged us, so it drags on. Because our leaders refuse to listen, ILWU members are taking the next logical step for workers: Strike.
For those unfamiliar, the ILWU is perhaps the most militant and politicized worker organization in the nation. It operates in one of the most important sectors of the world economy -- marine transport -- and, thus, is in a strategic location to put peace above profits.Forged in the fires of 1930s worker struggles to gain basic rights, the ILWU was born in 1934 when longshoremen (there were no women in the industry then, though there are now) performed the incredibly hard, dangerous and important work of loading and unloading ships. To improve their wages and wrest some control over their lives, men all along the coast struck -- and in a few instances died -- to gain union recognition.
The ILWU is highly democratic. A caucus of more than 100 longshore workers representing every union local
establishes policies for the Longshore Division. It was this caucus that voted to declare the May Day strike.
Dockworkers, including those in the ILWU, have a proud tradition of political action. For example, in the 1980s the ILWU respected the strike of British dockworkers by refusing to unload a ship worked by scab labor. Just last week, union longshoremen in South Africa refused to unload a Chinese vessel carrying military supplies destined for autocratic Zimbabwe -- a tremendous example of solidarity.
That the ILWU chose International Workers' Day to declare this strike suggests its political commitment
and internationalism. Around the world, workers honor labor by taking a holiday. What few Americans know is
that the tradition of a May Day strike originated not in the Soviet Union in the 1950s but the United States
of the 1880s..
(See Seattle Post-Intelligencer <http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/361087_mayday.html> April 29, 2008 By Peter Cole, Guest Columnist)
May Day Message from the Port Workers in Iraq to West Coast dock workers in the U.S. (General Union of Port Workers of Iraq April 29th, 2008) U.S. Labor Against the War is pleased to be able to share with you a statement of solidarity from the General Union of Port Workers in Iraq to the members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in support of the decision by ILWU members to shut down all the ports on the West Coast on May Day 2008 as a demonstration of their opposition to the war and occupation of Iraq. In solidarity with the ILWU, the General Union of Port Workers in Iraq will stop work for one hour on May Day in the ports of Umm Qasr and Khor Al Zubair..
END THE WAR & OCCUPATION! U.S. TROOPS HOME NOW!
1. Mourn all victims of violence. 2. Reject war as a solution. 3. Defend civil liberties. 4. Oppose all discrimination: anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic, etc. 5. Seek peace through justice in Hawai`i and around the world.
Contact: Malu `Aina Center for Non-violent Education & Action P.O. Box AB Ola`a (Kurtistown),
Hawai`i 96760. Phone (808) 966-7622 Email email@example.com http://www.malu-aina.org