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Hands off Local 10! Dockworkers sued for solidarity port shutdown

April 13, 2011

On Monday, April 25, at 11 a.m., join the mass action to support ILWU Local 10 at the PMA San Francisco headquarters at 555 Market St.

At the San Francisco anti-war rally on April 10, ILWU Local 10 past secretary treasurer and executive board member Clarence Thomas called for full support. The local has been sued by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) for stopping work on the April 4 National Day of Action for Wisconsin workers.

ILWU Local 10 leader Clarence Thomas calls for solidarity at the “No Nukes No War at Home or Abroad” rally April 10 in San Francisco. – Video frame: LaborVideo.blip.tv
Scroll down for the story of what happened on April 4, the AFL-CIO National Day of Action in solidarity with Wisconsin workers.

Defend organized labor

Trent Willis, past president of Local 10, writes:

“Sisters and Brothers:

“The labor movement is under attack from Wisconsin to California and from New York and Ohio to Arizona. And we’re beginning to fight back. On April 4, when working people across this country demonstrated in solidarity with the Wisconsin state workers, the longshore workers of Local 10 in San Francisco did what they’ve always done, implemented their union’s slogan, “An injury to one is an injury to all.” According to news media, the ports of San Francisco and Oakland were shut down in solidarity with the workers in Wisconsin.

“They did it in 1978 for the workers of Chile under the gun of Pinochet’s bloody military dictatorship refusing to load bombs on a ship bound for Chile.

Trent Willis is past president of ILWU Local 10, the union that named Martin Luther King an honorary member six months before he was assassinated. – Photo: Delores Lemon-Thomas
“They did it in 1984 for the oppressed people of apartheid South Africa and according to Nelson Mandela helped bring down that racist regime.

“They did it in 2000 for the Charleston longshore union under attack from police and politicians for defending their jobs

“They did it all in 2008 by shutting down all West Coast ports to demand an end to the imperialist wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“And last year they did it in solidarity with the Palestinian people being massacred in Gaza and protesting against the police killing in Oakland of an innocent young black man, Oscar Grant.

“ILWU Local 10 has been the moral compass of the American labor movement.

ILWU Local 10 has been the moral compass of the American labor movement.

“Now the employers’ group, the Pacific Maritime Association, is trying to put an end to workers’ solidarity actions by intimidating the longshore union through a court suit. Their bullying tactics must be stopped.

“ILWU Local 10 and the San Francisco Labor Council are organizing a broad defense campaign. There will be an EMERGENCY DEFENSE MEETING at Local 10 located near Fisherman’s Wharf at 400 North Point St., corner of Mason, Thursday, April 14, at 7 p.m., in the Henry Schmidt Room.

“Be there to defend organized labor, civil liberties, the antiwar movement and immigrant workers’ rights!”

San Francisco Labor Council Resolution

The following resolution was passed unanimously at the San Francisco Labor Council on April 11:

ILWU Local 10 marched April 10 in San Francisco. – Photo: Labor Video Project
DEFEND ILWU LOCAL 10’s APRIL 4 SOLIDARITY ACTION

Whereas, the delegates meeting of the Council voted unanimously on March 14 that “in the event that a Council affiliate votes to engage in an industrial action on April 4, the San Francisco Labor Council will call on all its affiliates … to support such action”; and

Whereas, International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 and its President Richard Mead are being sued in court by maritime employers of the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) for a 24-hour shutdown of the Port of Oakland on April 4 a National Day of Action called by the AFL-CIO and a day for which ILWU International President McEllrath on March 8 called for mobilizing in solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin; and

Whereas, each rank and file member of Local 10 made this selfless choice on their own to stand up for public workers in Wisconsin and for all workers in the best tradition of the longshore union, as they have done since the Big Strike of 1934 and the historic San Francisco General Strike, which built the foundation for the trade union movement in this city and on the West Coast; and

At 6 a.m. on the AFL-CIO National Day of Action April 4, a long snake-line of trucks bearing shipping containers idled on the roadway after Local 10 dockworkers shut down the Port of Oakland for 24 hours. – Photo: Delores Lemon-Thomas
Whereas, these same maritime employers were unsuccessful in their attempt to use the slave labor Taft-Hartley Act to stop the ILWU from carrying out a Local 10-initiated coastwide shutdown of all ports on May Day 2008 to demand an end to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a first-ever in U.S. labor history; and

Whereas, Local 10, the heart and soul of the San Francisco labor movement, is now under attack for implementing the principled labor slogan, “An injury to one is an injury to all,”

Therefore be it resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council, consistent with its March 14 resolution, initiate a broad defense campaign of ILWU Local 10 by setting up a defense committee in collaboration with Local 10, by contacting and mobilizing the Labor Councils and AFL-CIO of the Bay Area, California and nationally; and

Be it further resolved, that the first step in this campaign will be to call for a mass mobilization of all Bay Area Labor Councils and the California AFL-CIO to rally in front of PMA headquarters in San Francisco on Monday, April 25, to demand that the court suit be dropped and that the vindictive lynch mob procedures against the union in the arbitration be halted immediately; and

Be it finally resolved that ILWU Local 10 be commended for its solidarity action and that we request that the state and national AFL-CIO do likewise.

Local 10 leader interviewed on KPFA April 5

Clarence Thomas, ILWU Local 10, is interviewed April 5 on KPFA’s Morning Mix after dock workers shut down the ports of Oakland and San Francisco, protesting union busting legislation in Wisconsin and other states.

Dockworkers shut down ports of Oakland and San Francisco for 24 hours

No cargo worked April 4 in solidarity with heroic Wisconsin

by Dave Welsh

Oakland – The power of workers to bring production to a halt was on dramatic display April 4, when longshore workers of ILWU Local 10 shut down the ports of Oakland and San Francisco for 24 hours, in solidarity with the heroic struggles in Wisconsin.

The rail yard was deserted and the shipping cranes were all “standing at attention” – i.e., not working any containers. These are same Port of Oakland cranes that gave George Lucas the idea for some of his “Star Wars” imagery. – Photo: Delores Lemon-Thomas
The big container port of Oakland was deader than a doornail Monday at 6 a.m. I saw a long snake-line of trucks bearing shipping containers idled on the roadway. The shipping cranes were all “standing at attention” – i.e., not working any containers. [These are same Port of Oakland cranes that gave George Lucas the idea for some of his “Star Wars” imagery.]

The ILWU hiring hall was practically deserted at dispatch time for the night shift, leaving several hundred jobs unfilled. The dock workers stayed away, and no cargo was worked on any shift Monday in Oakland or San Francisco.

The rank-and-file-initiated shutdown was part of nationwide actions on April 4 to challenge the draconian budget cuts and union busting in Wisconsin and other states.

An ‘act of organized resistance’ by rank-and-file dock workers

“This was a voluntary rank and file action which resulted in an act of organized resistance,” said Clarence Thomas, a dock worker and Local 10 executive board member.

The Port of Oakland was ghostly quiet when Local 10 workers volunteered to stage a 24-hour strike, the only strike nationwide on the April 4 National Day of Action, when the AFL-CIO called for unions to mobilize in solidarity with workers of Wisconsin. – Photo: Delores Lemon-Thomas
“It is significant that the action by Local 10 was taken in solidarity with Wisconsin public sector workers who are facing the loss of collective bargaining,” Thomas said. He pointed out that April 4 is also the anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. – who was killed in Memphis demanding collective bargaining for sanitation workers in that city.

“So we’ve come full circle,” he concluded. The Memphis public workers got their union, after a two-month strike. Now 40 years later their Wisconsin counterparts are threatened with losing theirs. But it is Wisconsin’s “fierce resistance that is inspiring all of us today.”

It is not surprising that the 24-hour port work stoppage came out of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10, a racially diverse, predominantly African American local and the home local of legendary labor leader Harry Bridges. Martin Luther King was named an honorary member of Local 10 six months before he was killed.

Oakland teachers shut down Wells Fargo Bank for three hours on April 4

The Oakland Education Association has been facing crippling attacks on the public school system – including layoff notices for 600 of their members. When the April 4 Day of Action arrived, the OEA chose to protest at Wells Fargo Bank in downtown Oakland, demanding, “Bail out schools, not banks.”

About 100 teachers and supporters chanted, marched and sat down at the bank entrance, effectively shutting down the bank for three hours. They set up a makeshift classroom in the bank plaza to teach about the key role of the banks in bringing on today’s economic crisis. OEA President Betty Olson-Jones pointed out that Wells Fargo received a $50 billion federal bailout, and the people chanted: “Banks took our money; now give it to the schools!”

Protesters took turns at the bullhorn:

1. To demand that workers’ jobs, pensions, schools and social services must be safeguarded before one cent of interest is paid to the banks and wealthy bond investors. Which has priority, they asked: profits for the wealthy or our children’s future?

2. To highlight Wells Fargo’s role in the foreclosure epidemic – affecting many families of district school children – and demand a moratorium on foreclosures, so families can stay in their homes. An OEA press release said Wells Fargo must “stop foreclosures and lower mortgage debt to reflect homes’ reduced market value.”

The Bail out the People Movement organized demonstrations Monday at Wells Fargo branches in Los Angeles and Baltimore in solidarity with the teachers’ action in Oakland.

ILWU Struggles 1984-2010: The Struggle Continues

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