Tuesday, May 06, 2008


How much of this story by the Socialist Worker is true, and how much is fudged? Did Iraqi workers really stop or did American workers in Iraq take an extra long break from the day's labor? Inquiring minds want to know. The LA Times doesn't mention any Iraqi worker stoppage. But please read on. This is real news.

SAN FRANCISCO—Tens of thousands of West Coast dockworkers protested the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by refusing to work on May Day.

Despite threats from the bosses of the Pacific Maritime Association and a decision by an arbitrator that the union couldn't officially schedule its monthly stop-work meeting (which allows the union to call a meeting during a normal shift), rank-and-file workers didn't show up to work, paralyzing billions of dollars worth of cargo up and down the coast.

"Longshore workers are not slaves," International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 executive board member Clarence Thomas told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! "They can't make us work."

Dockworkers organized actions in almost 30 ports along the coast, from Washington to San Diego, and their protest coincided with demonstrations by tens of thousands of people around the country who marched and rallied on May 1, International Workers' Day, to support immigrant rights.

The ILWU action had solidarity from around the world, including in Iraq itself—dockworkers shut down the crucial port of Basra for several hours in support of the West Coast work stoppage. On the other side of the U.S., in New Jersey, port truckers protested. In Britain, a member of parliament introduced a resolution of support for the ILWU.

"It's really important that the ILWU is showing solidarity with all the working people. Workers all over the world know about this," said Allen Bradley, who spoke at the march on behalf of himself and other members of the Freightliner Five, UAW members from Cleveland, N.C., who were unjustly fired from their jobs at their truck plant. "The ILWU stood up today, and I'm glad about it."

The ILWU action got support from local port truckers as well as antiwar activists. According to Robert Irminger, vice chair of the Inland Boatman's Union for the San Francisco Region, "This morning, about 50 of us went down to the docks with Direct Action to Stop the War and picketed the Union Pacific rail yard. We blocked two gates, and the rail workers held up work for about two hours."

Read it all.

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