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All out on May Day! Support immigrant rights

by Workers Wold (reposted)
Longshore workers on the West Coast have passed a resolution supporting national May Day actions for immigrant and workers’ rights. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) took solidarity a step further by announcing a work stoppage in major West Coast ports on May 1 to support and participate in the “Great American Boycott II.”
This year, longshore workers will stop all work in the California ports of Oakland, San Francisco, Richmond, Benicia and Redwood City, as well as in Seattle, Wash. Locally, the ILWU Local 10 Drill Team will perform at the May Day protest.

According to Clarence Thomas, past secretary-treasurer of Local 10 and coordinator of its Saving Lives Campaign, who spoke with this reporter, “Last year, we not only supported all of the demands of the immigrant workers’ movement but we fought for the defense of longshore jobs against a similar right-wing attack.”

Last year, with the passage and implementation of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, under the guise of “national security” veteran longshore workers found themselves being questioned about past felony convictions, medical and mental health conditions and political affiliations.

The union was able to remove some of the worst elements of the government witchhunt from the Maritime Act. However, longshore workers still have to face scrutiny from Homeland Security before being issued a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), which is needed now to work on the docks.

“We strongly oppose the criminalization of immigrant workers and see the similarity with government attempts to criminalize our union members,” Thomas added.

The resolution passed by ILWU Local 10 in San Francisco and ILWU Local 19 in Seattle reads:

WHEREAS, Local 10 adopted a resolution for our April 2005 Longshore Caucus reclaiming May Day (May 1st) which commemorates the struggle for the 8 (eight) hour work day in the United States;

WHEREAS, Local 10 endorsed May 1st, 2006, and participated in the Great American Boycott to protest the criminalization of immigrant workers by legislation such as HR4437 and the Marine Transportation Security Acts criminal background checks on dock workers;

WHEREAS, On May 1st, 2006, 90 percent of the container cargo at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach was halted as the result of immigrant truckers not going to work;

WHEREAS, Agribusinesses such as Tyson Foods and Cargill closed down several of their plants in anticipation of immigrant workers not going to work on May 1, 2006, in support of immigrant rights;

WHEREAS, Our own Harry Bridges, an Australian immigrant worker, faced four prosecutions by the U.S. government, was wrongfully convicted, illegally imprisoned, fraudulently stripped of his citizenship, and his attorneys sent to jail for defending him;

WHEREAS, ILWU in 2008, will start very difficult contract negotiations with the employer which requires we start to mobilize our members and build coalitions; and

WHEREAS, Hornblower Cruises has yet to hire skilled and experienced ILWU and other union ferry workers as well as to negotiate a fair contract;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the membership instruct Local 10’s president to convey our intentions of having our stop work meeting on Tuesday, May 1st, 2007, at 9 a.m. to Pacific Maritime Association;

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Local 10 participates in the Great American Boycott II, in support of workers and immigrant rights, including the workers of Hornblower Cruises, on May Day, 2007, and that the ILWU Local 10 Drill Team perform; and

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that a copy of this Resolution be sent to all ILWU locals, the International, and affiliated central labor councils.

The longshore workers have a long history of support and involvement in working class and progressive struggles.

“Our seven decades of ILWU militant unionism shows that we understand the significance of international labor solidarity,” Thomas said. He pointed out that the ILWU emerged out of the 1934 San Francisco General Strike.

It was the first union to oppose U.S. intervention in Vietnam in 1964. The longshore workers took a strong stand against apartheid and refused to handle South African cargo in the 1970s and 1980s. It also refused to load bomb parts or military cargo destined for Chile and El Salvador during that time.

“The ILWU was founded by Harry Bridges, an immigrant worker from Australia, who was hounded by the U.S. government because of his militant trade unionism and political beliefs,” Thomas explained. “We will always continue to embrace the aspirations of all workers, organized or unorganized,” the union leader said. “We have the same mandate as the immigrant workers’ movement and we will march side by side on May Day,” Thomas added.

Besides being a leader of the ILWU, Thomas is also national co-chair of the Million Worker Movement. As coordinator of the ILWU’s Saving Lives Campaign, Thomas leads union efforts to reduce diesel fuel emissions at 29 ports on the West Coast.
Articles copyright 1995-2007 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
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Tue, Apr 10, 2007 7:34PM
Marcus Hall
Tue, Apr 10, 2007 5:43PM
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