UE Officers Express Solidarity As ILWU Plans Antiwar May Day Work Stoppage

April 25, 2008

UE’s three national officers – President John Hovis, Secretary-Treasurer Bruce Klipple and Director of Organization Bob Kingsley – have sent solidarity greetings to Bob McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union as ILWU members prepare to shut down all of the West Coast ports on May Day to protest Bush’s war policies.

"On behalf of UE members from Massachusetts to California, we extend our solidarity, support and congratulations to the ILWU and the members of your Longshore Caucus for the courageous and historic May Day action you are about to conduct,” the UE officers wrote. “By shutting down Pacific Coast ports for eight hours on May 1, ILWU members will send a powerful message not only to the Bush administration and the U.S. Congress, but to working people around the world. That message is that the U.S. government does not speak or act in behalf of the working people of the U.S., and that American workers are fighting back against the government’s unjust and disastrous wars of corporate imperial conquest.”

ILWU members decided on this action in early April, adopting a resolution that was introduced by San Francisco Local 10, “to demand an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U. S. troops from the Middle East.” Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, ILWU President McEllrath said the decision “came after an impassioned debate where the union’s Vietnam veterans turned the tide of opinion in favor of the anti-war resolution." McEllrath continued, "The motion called it an imperial action for oil in which the lives of working-class youth and Iraqi civilians were being wasted and declared May Day a 'no peace, no work' holiday. Angered after supporting Democrats who received a mandate to end the war but who now continue to fund it, longshoremen decided to exercise their political power on the docks.”

Other labor groups have expressed solidarity with the Pacific coast dockworkers’ planned action. State AFL-CIO federations in Vermont and South Carolina, the California Federation of Teachers, and the South Bay (California) Labor Council adopted resolutions in solidarity with the ILWU. The New York Metro National Association of Letter Carriers resolved to conduct two minute periods of silence on May 1, at 1:00, 5:00 and 9:00 p.m.

The UE officers’ letter concludes by thanking McEllrath for “the ILWU’s strong leadership in reclaiming May Day for the working class, and for, in a very assertive and visible way, putting forth the proposition that the foreign policy of the labor movement should be very different from that of the corporations and the corporate-controlled government.”

You can find more details on the ILWU May Day action at the website of U.S. Labor Against the War.

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