Longshore Workers Strike against Iraq War

ILWU call for walkout in protest of US war in Iraq

17 March 2008

By MUA news –

US West Coast longshore workers plan protest against imperialist war in Iraq, Afghanistan on May 1

The International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) has announced the 40,000-plus members of its 60 locals in California, Washington and Oregon will walk off the job for eight hours on May 1 to protest the US-led war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The ILWU, he said, would also be calling for “wider international action” in support of the walkout with letters going to both the International Transport Workers Federation and the International Dockworkers Council in Barcelona, Spain.

“We’re writing to inform you of this action … to honour labor history and express support for the troops by bringing them home safely,” Bob McEllrath, ILWU wrote, adding that the ILWU action “will send a message to Washington.”

Employers and port authorities at 29 sea ports from San Diego to Seattle have been notified with the work stoppage scheduled for the day shift.

The ILWU International Executive Board recently endorsed Democrat Barack Obama, citing his opposition to the war in Iraq as one of the key factors in the union’s decision to call for the work stoppage.

“If we can do something so dramatic as to shut down the ports on the West Coast, I think people will realize how important” opposition to the war is, said Jack Heyman, an executive board member of San Francisco’s ILWU Local 10, and a prominent antiwar activist. In 2003, Heyman and about a dozen other war protesters were arrested outside Oakland shipping facilities.

Quoted by several Bay Area media outlets, Heyman said, “The ILWU has had a legacy of opposing US imperialist wars like the one in Iraq, while supporting struggles internationally like the anti-apartheid struggle and the Cuban revolution.”

A number of organizations including The Internationalist Group-League for the Fourth International, a New York-based Marxist activist group, have voiced their support for the ILWU action.

Announcement of the May 1 walkout comes just days before contract negotiations are scheduled to start between the dock worker’s union and the San Francisco-based Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).

The MUA sent a delegation to the US last contract negotiations in 2002, after employers locked out the ILWU and shut down all activity at ports along the entire US West Coast for 10 days.

A film “In the Eye of the Storm” has been made about the dispute and will be playing during the upcoming National Conference.

For further information

Contact: Maritime Union of Australia

Phone: +61 2 9267 9134

Fax: +61 2 9261 3481

Email: muano@mua.org.au

WWW: http://mua.org.au/

One thought on “Longshore Workers Strike against Iraq War

  1. A letter requesting support/solidarity for the courageous anti war action due to be taken by the ILWU in the US on May 1 has now been sent to a variety of Australian Unions and the secretary of the NZ Council of Trade Unions.

    This is a significant action. In many ways the most powerful since the war began and the first direct industrial action within the US over Iraq. It will involve 40,000 workers from California to Washington State; 29 seaports, 60 locals, from San Diego to Seattle. It will shut down the entire west coast of the US for the day shift on May 1.

    Probably for legal reasons, the ILWU website is not carrying information about this, but the US Labor Against War site has considerable coverage of it. (www.uslaboragainstwar.org)

    Have personally approached my own branch organizer about this in my own union. If others could do similarly, even by email, it would really help. People can also send personal messages of support.


    Bob McEllrath International President ILWU
    1188 Franklin Street San Francisco California 94109
    TEL: (+1 415) 775 0533 FAX: (+1 415) 775 1302 EMAIL: robert.mcellrath@ilwu.org

    Melvin Mackay Local 10 President
    FAZ: (+1 415) 441 0610 EMAIL: melmackay@aol.com

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