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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | U.S. | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism | Labor & Workers | Racial Justice
ILWU Local 10 Moves to Stop the Fascists in San Francisco Saturday August 26
Longshore Workers: Shut It Down!
ILWU Local 10 marching against police terror on May Day 2015, Oakland, California.
On August 17, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 voted an urgent motion for labor mobilization to “Stop the Fascists in San Francisco.” The dock workers, who have a long history of port shutdowns against racism, war and police terror, aim to prevent a repeat of last week’s murderous Nazi/white supremacist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia. Fascist groups have announced a weekend of potentially deadly provocations in the Bay Area on August 26-27. Some of those involved in the Charlottesville Nazi march are reportedly planning to attend. Pointing to the example of Portland, Oregon where members of 14 local unions mobilized against a racist/fascist provocation on June 4, ILWU Local 10 motion stated, that “the San Francisco Bay Area is a union stronghold and we will not allow labor-hating white supremacists to bring their lynch mob terror here.” By using the power of independent working-class action to stop the fascists, they can point the way for all labor and the oppressed at this critical moment. Read more...
Painters Union Local 10 at June 4 Portland Labor Against the Fascists mobilization. (Internationalist photo)
SAN FRANCISCO, August 18 – At last night’s meeting of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10, an urgent motion for labor mobilization to “Stop the Fascists in San Francisco” was passed. The dock workers, who have a long history of port shutdowns against racism, war and police terror, aim to prevent a repeat of last week’s murderous Nazi/white supremacist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia. By using the power of independent working-class action to stop the fascists, they can point the way for all labor and the oppressed at this critical moment.
White-supremacist and other fascist groups have repeatedly targeted the Bay Area in recent months. Now they have announced a weekend of potentially deadly provocations on August 26-27. The fascist “Patriot Prayer” outfit that has staged such events in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington has called a rally for Saturday, August 26 at Crissy Field in San Francisco. The following day, several fascist groups are calling a “No to Marxism in America” rally in Martin Luther King Park in Berkeley. Some of those involved in the Charlottesville Nazi march are reported among those planning to attend one or both of these fascist rallies.
Today, Los Angeles KPFK radio broadcast a feature on the planned longshore workers action, noting that “Local 10 of the ILWU has moved to walk out and march, and they are calling on labor and community to join them to stop the fascists.” Later in the show, KPFK interviewed Local 10 President Ed Ferris and long-time longshore militant Jack Heyman, who spoke about the importance of working-class mobilization to stop the fascists in the union stronghold of the Bay Area.
The ILWU motion noted that “the fascists, the KKK, Nazis and other white supremacists rallied and marched by torchlight in Charlottesville, whipping up lynch mob terror with racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic slogans,” and that “that attack resulted in one anti-racist counter demonstrator murdered and many others injured when one of the fascist bullies ran them down with a car.” It added that, “President Trump’s whitewashing this violent, deadly fascist and racist attack saying ‘both sides are to blame,’ and his attacking anti-racists for opposing Confederate statues that honor slavery adds fuel to the fire of racist violence.”
The ILWU Local 10 motion states that, “far from a matter of ‘free speech’, the racist and fascist provocations are a deadly menace as shown in Portland on May 26 when a Nazi murdered two men and almost killed a third for defending two young African American women he was menacing.” It underlined that “our sisters and brothers in the Portland labor movement answered racist terror with the power of workers solidarity, mobilizing members of 14 unions against the fascist/racist rally there on June 4.” (See “Portland Labor Mobilizes to Stop Fascist Provocation,” The Internationalist No. 48, May-June 2017.)
The motion emphasized that, “ILWU Local 10 has a long and proud history of standing up against racism, fascism and bigotry and using our union power to do so; on May Day 2015 we shut down Bay Area ports and marched followed by thousands to Oscar Grant Plaza demanding an end to police terror against African Americans and others,” and that “the San Francisco Bay Area is a union stronghold and we will not allow labor-hating white supremacists to bring their lynch mob terror here.”
In fact, nooses – a threat of lynching – were found on a series of occasions earlier this year at the SSA Marine terminal in the Port of Oakland in California. On the morning of May 25, when a noose was found at the terminal, one of the port’s largest, ILWU longshoremen walked off the job in protest. “Container trucks were backed up all around the port and on Interstate 880,” reported the East Bay Times (26 May). Longshore workers’ anger against the current fascist and white-supremacist provocations will likely have a similar result but on a larger scale.
From the Portland area, Painters (IUPAT) Local 10, which played a key role in Portland Labor Against the Fascists on June 4, sent a solidarity message on August 17 to ILWU Local 10, stating:
“We have been inspired by your historic shutdowns over the many years of maritime history. ILWU Local 10 set an example for us all in the struggle for workers’ rights against racism, war, and police repression. If you use your power as workers to take action against the fascists on August 26th, that will be a call to action of workers and oppressed people throughout this country. Today, more than ever, workers need solidarity. It would be a proud day for us ... to stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the struggle.”
Since the election of Donald Trump, the Internationalist Group has called for and helped organize labor/black/immigrant mobilization to stop fascist and racist terror. The June 4 Portland labor mobilization was an important first step, the first significant workers action against fascists in decades. Longshore workers shutting down the port and leading a mass march to sweep away the fascist provocation on August 26 is now the task of the hour. This can point the way for workers action from coast to coast after decades of attacks on the working class. The potential international appeal of the longshore action was indicated in another solidarity message to last night’s ILWU Local 10 meeting, from the International Dockers Council.
Millions of people are outraged by the fascist murder in Charlottesville. Millions are disgusted by Donald Trump’s open praise of the fascists. Just days after threatening to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea, he spewed vile praise for “beautiful statues and monuments” to Confederate leaders. Black people have always known what these sick tributes to the slave owners represent: like the Confederate flag, they are an incitement to lynching and racist terror. But it’s not just Trump. The Democratic Party was founded as the political arm of the slavocracy, becoming, after the Civil War, the party of the Klan and Jim Crow.
Now the Democrats, who paved the way for Trump, seek to exploit mass anger over Charlottesville. But their aim is to subjugate workers, youth and opponents of racist reaction to the capitalist system that breeds racist terror, war and economic crisis. Liberal Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguín is telling everyone to “stay away” from the fascist rally there – including the opponents of fascist terror who rightly want to make sure the fascist terror carried out in Charlottesville is not repeated in the Bay Area. To stop the fascist threat, it is crucial to understand that you can’t fight Trump with Democrats, and that workers must rely on their own class power.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, in turn, has called on the National Parks Service, which administers Crissy Field, to “reevaluate” the permit it granted to the “Patriot Prayer” rally. This appeal to Trump’s Interior Department (which the Park Service is part of) is not just a diversion from mass protest but a trap, as it could easily be used against anti-fascist demonstrators. In fact, both Republicans and Democrats – who under Obama deported more than 5 million immigrants, waged endless war abroad and ramped up police repression “at home” – fear independent mobilization of the working class.
Liberals and reformist pseudo-socialists, for their part, have sought to organize tame protests “against hate” far away from the fascists in order to avoid confrontation. The answer to the fascist threat is not to ignore it, or endless inconclusive skirmishes, but to mobilize workers action to stop the fascists, linking up with the rest of labor and opponents of racist terror. Now the Bay Area longshore workers have taken the lead, and it is vital to make the August 26 mobilization a resounding success.
In today’s radio interview, ILWU Local 10 President Ferris discussed the union’s efforts to bring in the Labor Councils of both San Francisco and Alameda county. San Francisco and Oakland, California are union towns. The workers movement, taking action together with those targeted by every kind of racism, bigotry and oppression, can point the way for workers everywhere.
That can open a path for all the exploited and oppressed, at a time when large numbers of people are seeing the threat that the irrational and bankrupt system of capitalism poses here and around the world. In recent days and weeks, the Internationalist Group has highlighted calls for labor/black/immigrant mobilizations to smash racist terror; for the disciplined, organized preparation of workers defense guards to stop the kind of fascist attacks seen in Portland and Charlottesville; and for the workers movement to unchain its power from the Democrats and all bosses’ parties by forging a class-struggle workers party.
At this time, a big step forward for the whole working class can be taken by the Bay Area longshore workers, by shutting down the port and leading a mass march that brings out the power of labor and opponents of racist terror to stop the fascists on August 26.