International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 in the Bay Area will use its monthly stop-work meeting on Friday to idle the ports of Oakland and San Francisco to protest recent police killings of African Americans.
The executive board and membership of Local 10 aligned its “Union Action to Stop Police Killings of Black and Brown People” with International Workers’ Day, which is celebrated on May 1 in many countries.
“We have always been a militant union,” said Jack Heyman, of the ILWU (retired). “We integrated our union during the 1934 maritime strike, way before the passage of the Civil Rights bill in 1965, we refused a work a ship from South Africa to protest apartheid in 1984 and we shut down the local ports in 2010 to demand justice for Oscar Grant. This shutdown continues our tradition of connecting class struggle to race struggles and demanding justice for all.”
Racist police killings have created a state of racist police terror. According to a report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, a Black man, woman or child s killed every 28 hours by police, security guards or vigilantes – and in 2015 that number is closer to one every 8 or 9 hours.
“I put forth the resolution to shut down the port because I am proud of my union’s history of resistance and I felt it was time labor came out loudly against police terror,” said Stacey Rodgers, of the ILWU who initiated the port action. “We are in an historic moment in our country. Labor has always been part of the historic moments in this country and we continue that legacy on May Day.”
I don't have a lot to add to the above except to wonder aloud, if the #BlackLivesMatter movement is able to disrupt capitalism, will it then be taken seriously? One can only hope.
I obviously commend the ILWU, a union I've always had immense respect for. They've been beaten up in the press recently because of work slowdowns on the West Coast- while the Very Serious People tsk-tsked the union, many failed to mention that they had worked without a contract for months. The disruptions at the ports were a headache, but not nearly as catastrophic as they could have been.
So three cheers for the ILWU.