Monday, April 25, 2011

Hands Off ILWU Local 10

By Cheryl LaBash
Published Apr 20, 2011 9:16 PM

Mobilize! That is the way the San Francisco Labor Council is answering the Pacific Maritime Association’s attack on the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10. In a unanimous resolution, the SFLC called for mass action at the PMA’s San Francisco headquarters on April 25 and established a broad defense committee for the union and its members.

The PMA is seeking to punish ILWU Local 10 for its members’ rank-and-file job action on April 4. The AFL-CIO had called for a National Day of Action on that date in support of Wisconsin workers. ILWU Local 10 volunteered not to go to work. Without their labor power, nothing moved for 24 hours in the ports of San Francisco and Oakland, Calif.

Intimidation won’t work

ILWU Local 10’s job action is part of a bigger fight for all workers, and it’s an important issue for the labor movement. By dragging this strong union before an arbitrator and a federal court judge, the PMA is trying to send a message to all workers to stay in line.

The PMA says that it is OK to have rallies, demonstrations and prayer vigils. It is OK to lobby, recall and vote. The PMA even told the union local that it is OK to shut down ports, but that type of action must be planned with them in order to suit the bosses.

The wheels of capitalism routinely roll on, squeezing the workers and unemployed even harder to make up for the bosses’ losses from the global capitalist economic collapse. However, when the pain of the working class results in a united job action that pinches the profit stream, it really gets attention.

ILWU Local 10 opened up a second front in solidarity with Wisconsin workers, and California’s labor movement is saying that the resulting intimidation by the bosses won’t work and is taking action to prove it, starting on April 25.

Everyone can defend ILWU Local 10

As a first step for workers beyond California’s Bay Area, the Bail Out the People Movement began an online letter campaign to PMA president and CEO, James C. McKenna. It demands that the “PMA drop all retaliatory actions including its suit against ILWU Local 10 and its members for exercising their right to show support for Wisconsin’s public workers and to commemorate Rev. Dr. King Jr.’s assassination [on] the AFL-CIO’s National Day of Action on April 4.

“We commend the brave longshore workers who showed the way by acting with conscience on April 4. We believe that ‘An injury to one is an injury to all!’” BOPM encourages everyone to sign on to this appeal at

Additionally, they ask that community members, students and other activists turn that letter into a petition and take it to protests against school closings and budget cuts. They ask union members to take the SFLC resolution to union meetings, and supporters to take it to their churches, block clubs or other organizations and ask for a letter of support to stand with ILWU Local 10 on April 25. (See Resolutions at

PMA: Union buster

Although the anti-working-class offensive focuses on public workers in Wisconsin, Michigan and other states, the rights of every worker — and all union and broader social benefits for the working class — are in the bosses and bankers’ cross hairs right now.

On April 12 ILWU members and supporters occupied the PMA office in Oakland, Calif., for several hours. They held a sit-in in the boardroom to highlight the PMA’s refusal to negotiate with the union. That bosses’ association aims to destroy the solidarity of the coast-wide contract in order to weaken the West Coast dockworkers’ union. According to the Labor Video Project, the PMA even brought nonunion crews into the San Diego port as part of their anti-union campaign.

On April 25 at 11 a.m. join the mass action to support ILWU Local 10 at the PMA San Francisco headquarters at 555 Market St.

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