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US dockworkers' union holds eight-hour work stoppage to protest Iraq war
Friday, May 2, 2008 :The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) carried out an eight-hour work stoppage at West Coast ports on May 1 to demand an end to the war in Iraq.
The work action halted activity at 29 ports from San Diego, California to Washington State. According to both the ILWU and the employers organization, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), 25,000 dockworkers represented by the union did not report to work for the first shift on Thursday, shutting down the countrys principal gateway for cargo container traffic from the Far East. In the course of a typical work shift, some 10,000 containers are loaded and unloaded from ships docked at West Coast ports.
Under the slogan, No Peace, No Work, the work holiday was called on the traditional day of international workers solidarity as a demonstration of opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A resolution passed by the union in February called for an end to the occupation of Iraq and for the troops to be brought home immediately.
The ILWU initially cast the work stoppage as an annual membership meeting, which is allowed under the unions contract with the PMA, but which is normally held during the night shift. It gave the employers association advance notice of the action, but the PMA objected, calling it an illegal violation of the contract. The dispute went to an arbitrator, who ruled in favor of the PMA and ordered that union members report to work.
That the action was nevertheless carried out is a reflection, above all, of the widespread antiwar sentiment among rank-and-file dockworkersRead More