Cindy Sheehan declares solidarity with longshoremen’s May Day anti-war port shutdown

Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater marquee proclaims solidarity with the International Longshore Workers Union’s May Day anti-war port shutdown that aims to close all West Coast ports and is drawing support from railroad workers, students at San Francisco State and the University of Washington and the port workers of Iraq, who also plan a port shutdown, and the entire Iraqi labor movement.

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the ILWU,

On behalf of myself and my congressional campaign, and in memory of my son Casey, I want to thank you for the principled and dignified action that you are taking on May 1.

The exemplary resolution passed by your Longshore Caucus and your decision to stop work on the West Coast docks on May 1, 2008, points the way for all of us who struggle to end the disastrous war and occupation of Iraq. This illegal and immoral war has been forced on us by the Republican administration and has been funded enthusiastically by both the Democratic and Republican parties in Congress.

The Democratic Party, under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi, continues a policy of full cooperation with and financial support for the Bush administration’s war. While many Democrats will utter words that are critical of the highly unpopular war, their party simply will not use its political power to take any action to stop the carnage.

The ILWU has shown that it is an independent workers’ union, morally superior to the Democratic Party in every respect. Once again, the longshoremen of the West Coast are demonstrating that it is possible to oppose the war-mongering corporate politicians and prevent them from dividing and conquering the movements of the workers and peoples. You longshoremen have kept this powerful and noble tradition alive on their waterfront since the 1930s.

I want you to know that there is a congressional candidate in the Bay Area who supports you and your heroism. I thank you for refusing to load scrap iron for the Japanese invasion of China in the ‘30s. I thank you for your refusal to load bombs for the fascist dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in 1978. I thank you for your support of the Charleston Five, the Liverpool Dockers, the longshoremen of Australia, of Chile and all the other workers of the world with whom you stand in solidarity.

I thank you for your heroic stop-work actions in defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Black labor journalist falsely accused of killing a police officer. I thank you for honoring the U.S. Labor Against the War picket line against SSA on the docks of Oakland in both 2003 and 2007.

I am offended by the arrogance, the chauvinism, and the sneering spitefulness that has been shown towards you by the Pacific Maritime Association and its member companies. If these employers had any sense of honor, they would be proud to cooperate with you on May 1 and would eagerly join in your struggle to oppose this horrific war. My sympathy goes out to any workers who must negotiate the terms of their work against such cold and heartless war profiteers as the ones you bravely face in every contract negotiation. Their willful intransigence in the face of your principles should be enough to convince every honest elected official that your employers are bitter opponents of the people and threats to the public good.

I will stand with you on May 1 in San Francisco and Oakland, and I encourage people everywhere to take up your call to resist the war. I will be with you on the picket line. I pledge to do whatever I can to aid and assist you in your noble effort, both on May 1 and in the days and weeks that follow.

An injury to one is an injury to all, and an injury to longshoremen is an injury to me.

Cindy Sheehan, the best known leader in the anti-war movement, is an independent candidate in the race for San Francisco’s seat in Congress, currently held by Nancy Pelosi. Email Cindy at cindy@cindyforcongress.org, visit www.cindyforcongress.org and get involved in her campaign.