Israeli ship blockaded in San Francisco, dockworkers refuse to cross picket

Israeli ship blockaded in San Francisco, dockworkers refuse to cross picket

To oppose the Israeli state's recent attack on a ship carrying humanitarian aid to Palestine, community and labor activists have successfully prevented the unloading of an Israel ship at the Port of San Francisco. The city's dockworkers--long known for their militancy--refused to cross the picket lines.

20th June 2010

In a historic action and unprecedented action today, over 800 labor and community activists blocked the gates of the Oakland docks in the early morning hours, prompting longshore workers to refuse to cross the picketlines where they were scheduled to unload an Israeli ship.

From 5:30 am to 9:30 am, a militant and spirited protest was held in front of four gates of the Stevedore Services of America, with people chanting non-stop, "Free, Free Palestine, Don't Cross the Picket Line," and "An injury to one is an injury to all, bring down the apartheid wall."

Citing the health and safety provisions of their contract, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers refused to cross the picketline to report for duty.

Between 8:30 and 9:00 am, an emergency arbitration was conducted at the Maersk parking lot nearby, with an "instant" arbitrator called to the site to rule on whether the workers could refuse to cross the picketline without disciplinary measure.

At 9:15 a.m, after again reviewing the protests of hundreds at each gate, the arbitrator ruled in favor of the union that it was indeed unsafe for the workers to enter the docks.

To loud cheers of "Long Live Palestine!" Jess Ghannam of Free Palestine Alliance and Richard Becker of the ANSWER Coalition announced the victory. Ghannam said, "This is truly historic, never before has an Israeli ship been blocked in the United States!"

The news that a container ship from the Zim Israeli shipping line was scheduled to arrive in the Bay Area today has sparked a tremendous outpouring of solidarity for Palestine, especially in the aftermath of the Israeli massacre of volunteers bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza on May 31.

With 10 days advance notice of the ship's arrival, the emergency "Labor/Community Committee in Solidarity with the Palestinian People" was set up. On Wednesday, some 110 people from unions and community came to help organize logistics, outreach and community support. Initiating
organizations included the Al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition, the ANSWER Coalition, the Bay Area Labor Chapter of USLAW and the Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice.

This week the San Francisco Labor Council and Alameda Labor Council passed resounding resolutions denouncing Israel's blockade of Gaza. Both councils sent out public notices of the dock action.

The ILWU has a proud history of extending its solidarity to struggling peoples the world over. In 1984, as the Black masses of South Africa were engaged in an intense struggle against South African apartheid, the ILWU refused for a record-setting 10 days to unload cargo from the South
African "Ned Lloyd" ship. Despite million-dollar fines imposed on the union, the longshore workers held strong, providing a tremendous boost to the anti-apartheid movement.

Today's Oakland action, in the sixth largest port in the United States, is the first of several protests and work stoppages planned around the world, including Norway, Sweden and South Africa. It is sure to inspire others to do the same.

Posted By

Chilli Sauce
Jun 21 2010 18:30


Attached files


Jun 21 2010 18:48

Sorry to pick nits, but the Swedish action preceded this by weeks.

More to the point, this is a very interesting development. Do the named organizations support BDS?

Chilli Sauce
Jun 21 2010 20:10

Not sure, but I'll try to get the author to post on this thread....

Jun 21 2010 20:34

That'll be great. Thanks in advance. smile

Jun 22 2010 22:29

Just a quick glance at the players in the above article shows how this "action" was nothing but an exercise in media-driven vacuity. A better definition would label it as a pseudo-protest by the Popular Front of pro-Democratic Party Labor Councils from Alameda and San Francisco Counties and the Stalinists in ANSWER. Also, throw in all the usual suspects of sectarian leftists of the Trot and liberal variety and all their so-called "labor" front groups.

Here are some reasons why it was not only not radical, but wasn't even significant at the level of symbolism:

1. ANSWER declared "victory" in a press release at noon, even though the ship didn't arrive unitl 6:00 p.m.

2. Everything, literally EVERYTHING, was pre-arranged with the consent of the Oakland pigs.

3. Following on #2, ANSWER had their own security goons who worked closely with the pigs, including enforcing specific demands to police the protesters. Here's what a comrade observed:

I also listened in while a cop pointed at the anarchists and told one of the labor leaders that all the ANSWER security was on board with enforcing a "no mask" rule because "those people aren't here for your cause, they're just here to cause trouble."

4. The involvement by rank-and-file port workers was from nil to non-existent. Only 3 or 4 members of the longshore union, ILWU Local 10, had any part in the planning. No one from any of the other maritime sectors at the port participated in any way.

5. The refusal to cross the picket line didn't happen. An arbitrator ruled it was unsafe, allowing the ILWU workers to go home with pay. Many did even this begrudgingly because there was no guarantee that they'd get paid at the overtime rate for working on Sunday.

6. Once the work order was canceled, ANSWER still tried to get people to march in circles for the TV cameras even though it was pointless.

7. ANSWER's deal with the pigs and management was only for the two shifts on that day (Sunday June 20th) and only intended to delay the ship for 24 hours. The spectacle organizers even claimed they were doing that to "help" workers and make sure they could return to work the next day. Here's another account from the protest by the same comrade:

But Xxxxx was there and said that he and some others wanted to come back for the next shift at 5 am and continue setting up pickets as long as the Zim ship was trying to dock. He was shut down by the ANSWER leader who said they had decided on a 24-hour picket at a previous meeting. I imagine a major reason mainstream labor supported the action was because they knew (with ANSWER's guarantee) that it would be tightly circumscribed and enforced by ANSWER security and the left trade union bureaucracy.

So the lesson is that whenever a Popular Front of ANSWER goons join with union officials endorsing things that won't piss off their Democratic Party allies, we're going to have a lame and toothless action that looks good when it gets spun by the corporate media.

And a CORRECTION: it happened across the Bay at the Port of Oakland NOT San Francisco.

Jun 23 2010 00:15

I agree with H...

What is more troubling is the IWW's trumpeting of this. I thought the IWW was at least based on class, but here they are parroting the Stalinists in regards to supporting the Palestinian "people" (including both capitalist and workers) against the Israelis (which includes both capitalists and workers).

Black Badger
Jun 23 2010 01:49

Hoorah for the (usual, Stalinist) Popular Front! Forward on the Path of (usual, Stalinist) Anti-Imperialism!

This was not an action undertaken with the principles of BDS (itself problematic, as discussed on the dedicated thread); it was an ideologically driven publicity circus with virtually no outreach among the outfits who have been in the forefront of local BDS/Palestinian solidarity activity (also problematic).

The tight control over ANSWER-permitted posturing and slogans meant that these Left assholes accomplished what they always do: divide the workers among the good ones and the bad ones instead of attacking capital.

Critical support is way too good for them; how about reflexive skepticism, if not outright antagonism? They have it toward us, why not just engage in some tit-for-tat instead of tailing after them like good little sub-leftists, or some species of moralist? Disgusting.

Jun 23 2010 05:48

[Pulled by FNB]

Jun 23 2010 05:48

When I heard that it was prearranged that the picket would only be up for one day -- in order to "help" the workers be able to alienate their labor-power on the docks the next day -- I voted with my feet and stayed home.

And I guess I'm out of the activist loop. I didn't have the foggiest ideas what BDS was until I did a google search.

A similar anti-war protest happened along the same stretch of the Port of Oakland on May 19, 2007 and about 100 picketers showed up in the exact same way, except there were no media cameras (the cops blocked the access road and only those willing to walk 3/4 mile could access the port gates). That time the arbitrator didn't rule that it was a health and safety hazard and the rank-and-file longshore workers took a vote and decided to honor the picket line anyway. The same happened with the next shift in the afternoon.

In the earlier case, the lack of spectacular bourgeois media forced the picketers to interact with the longshore workers and may have swayed them. They forfeited a day's pay and refused to cross the picket line. That would have been impossible with all the narcissistic egos posing for this past Sunday's cameras.

And as someone mentioned in a personal e-mail, the deal between ANSWER/union bureaucrats and the cops and management made it easier for the arbitrator to rule in favor of the protesters, knowing that it was a limited and symbolic action and the Israeli ship would be able unload the next day.

Jun 24 2010 08:38

Week long blockade of handling Israeli goods in all Swedish ports.

In swedish, but can be put through google translate.

Jun 23 2010 17:51

I think that Hieronymous gives of important explanation of what is essentially a stunt. As he says it was vacuous and wasn't even up to the level of symbolism. I had the same feeling about the "siege-breaking" Gaza flotilla.

This sort of blockage "action" well described by Hieronymous, mirrors the "action" of the British Unite union which, in the wake of the flotilla has threatened to cut ties with Israeli firms. The Unite union was hand in glove with the Labour government, a government that continued to provide money, arms and training to Fatah gangsters in order to repress the population and who, in the EU and UN, supported the Israeli siege of Gaza.

These sort of "actions" are worse than useless and are simply a con trick on the working class.

Black Badger
Jun 23 2010 20:56

All those Turkish and Palestinian flags and the placards with absurd slogans ("Gaza is Warsaw" was my favorite) makes it clear what kind of organizers and participants were involved...

Jun 23 2010 21:47

A shame there wasn't a genuine working-class action, instead. I'm disappointed. :-/

Chilli Sauce
Jun 23 2010 22:17
What is more troubling is the IWW's trumpeting of this. I thought the IWW was at least based on class, but here they are parroting the Stalinists in regards to supporting the Palestinian "people" (including both capitalist and workers) against the Israelis (which includes both capitalists and workers).

I'm sorry, but what does this bit mean? Who's trumpeting it? I know one dude in the IWW (who sent this to me) who was involved in this and sent this round. Based on what's written in the article, I thought it a worthwhile thing to appear in LibCom news. And if you look on the IWW website, this disclaimer appears:

This action was not called by the IWW, though some IWW members participated in the planning of the event and at least a dozen joined in the action. The organizers included the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee and ANSWER.

Personally, I knew nothing about the CLASS COLLABORATIONIST STALINISTS who were involved in planning it. Those who are using this as an excuse to slag off the IWW, seemed to be engaged in petty point-scoring more than anything else.

Jun 24 2010 02:29

ncwob, you leave out that is calling the action an:

"Historic Victory at Oakland Port..."

"Historic Victory"? I would say that is trumpeting. My guess is the Industrial Worker newspaper will also have a similar article. Wanna bet?

It's hardly slagging off the IWW to ask why class collaborationist politics are being spread in it's name. It's a sincere and legitimate question. I have respect for the IWW's class positions - that's why I'm troubled.

Jun 24 2010 12:40

Also agree with H. I wonder if the ILWU is one of those places where the 2 trotskyists in the actual union drag the meetings out until late at night so that once everyone has left they can pass all kinds of resolutions about things that the rest of the people have no clue about (this is called "capturing the union for the revolution" i believe)

Hieronymous, do you have any links from other people exposing this action as the sham it was?

-soyons tout

Chilli Sauce
Jun 24 2010 16:52

ncwob, you leave out that is calling the action an:

"Historic Victory at Oakland Port..."

"Historic Victory"? I would say that is trumpeting. My guess is the Industrial Worker newspaper will also have a similar article. Wanna bet?

It's hardly slagging off the IWW to ask why class collaborationist politics are being spread in it's name. It's a sincere and legitimate question. I have respect for the IWW's class positions - that's why I'm troubled.

Okay, well maybe I took that a bit too personally as I was the one who posted it up...

My thinking (as someone who lives thousands of miles away) regarding the action:

1) The "rank-and-file" of ANSWER are probably not Stalinists. Stalinists may be in the leadership, but I don't think the intention of those engaged in the action was any sort of Stalinist class collaboration. That doesn't mean the action itself shouldn't be critiqued, but I would imagine the participants went into it with the best of intentions.

2) Although H. may be right that dockworkers only "begrudgingly" agreed to the arbitrator's ruling (I'd like to see some evidence cited, personally), but my impression is that the arbitrator/H&S clause was a conscious tactic employed by the organizers and this was decided on in advance with the dockers. Sure, I'd like it better if they just took a vote and refused to unload any Israeli ships, but if this was a conscious strategy they employed so they could get paid for the day and have some legal cover, that's not ideal, but I don't think it's should be written off. However, if someone wants to provide me with evidence to the contrary, I'll gladly give it a read.

3) It's worth noting the the Wob who participated in this (and wrote the article, I think) is the admin of, so it's quite logical they're going to want to promote it.

Jun 24 2010 19:21

First we need to define who ANSWER is. They used to be the front for the International Action Committee, which itself was a front for the Workers World Party -- ya know, those Stalinist nutcases who are still stridently pro-North Korea (bringing juche to the left!) and were the last pro-Albania holdouts in the West, supporting the Hoxha regime until the bitter end. And no ncwob, the rank-and-file aren't good cadre with bad leaders, they're dupes who actively promote some of the most reactionary politics and vile forms of nationalism while working closely with the pigs at every demo that they lead. As I've posted elsewhere on libcom, ANSWER protest marshals have regularly snitched militants, particularly anarchists, out to the pigs -- I saw it with my own eyes at various anti-war demos since militant street actions in San Francisco as far back as 1991. Perhaps others can post their experiences with these Stalinist goons going even further back.

Lately there's been a break within WWP and the Party for Socialism and Liberation came out of it in control of ANSWER on the West Coast. There's nothing complex about this: if ANSWER is involved, the police have an active role and have given their approval to the "action." And ANSWER security act as an auxiliary to the police. Again to you, ncwob, what's debatable about that?

As I noted above, I thought the action at the Port of Oakland was disingenuous and didn't want to condone it with my presence. My comrades who did attend almost all left immediately when they saw that it was a media prank.

Here's what another comrade wrote, defining how this was at best an act of substitutionism:

Great victory today????

Uh, ok. Lets reflect. Yes people did show up, thats good and the work order was cancelled, thats also good. A picket line???? Thats a stretch. What role did the port workers play in this action? We only know it was minimum at best. Is this OK? Does that not matter? The port workers labor-power bring in a billion dollars worth of commodities a day. The times the workers had shutdowns for one day, global capital has felt the effect. But the left cannot mobilize such workers because it has professional protest groups coupled with other left groups implanted in union officialdom to take action for the workers. Is the bay area left covering the entrances without any port workers a real picket line? If it is, thats a stretch of the definition. Once there is a merger between the revolutionary left (as a program) and the workers struggle (beyond economic demands and unionist logic) then we can see real struggles develop that can threaten the global system of capital along with challenging zionism. But the left has a long way to go, and if it doesnt acknowledge this and it assumes that we're there already, then its reproducing illusions in its own limited position. The left needs to face reality. In '04 the port truckers had a wildcat strike. Because the teamsters were manipulating behind the scenes, most of the left tailed the union officialdom, or, on the hand, the anarchist brought food. There was a lack of orientation towards the actual point of struggle and a lack of relationships with the workers to even begin to discuss that point.

What would today been like if the workers called for the strike, and the union officialdom and the left had to tail that process? The action would have had a thousands times more energy and business papers around the world would have commented about it in worry. Consciousness would penetrated through out the working class without one newspaper being sold.

The political weapon of labor-power is something not seen for decades. That does not mean we should forget about its potential power. May 1 '06 gives us a glimpse of its power.


This is from a Bay Area listserv that attempted to gather class struggle militants for the actions around education on March 4th. Here's my listserv response to the above:

I agree with Xxxxxx as well, but come on! A victory? For what? Symbolic activism? Media coverage? Fuck that!

At best it was a very minor success based on a technicality: an arbitrator decided for "health and safety" reasons longshore workers couldn't cross the picket lines. And as some of you have pointed out, this was more about the corporate media -- our class enemies -- than it was about militant working class agency. That is because regarding the latter, there was none.

In 2004 at the APL gate of the port, the "direct action" was wildcat militancy of the troqueros in an 8-day blockade until the class collaborationist activists intervened, pizzas in hand, and convinced them to end the strike and negotiate. The latter's "direct action" was guerrilla theater for TV cameras.

And Xxxxx's declaration of victory was at 12:35 p.m. Had the ship even arrived yet? Come on, this isn't even won -- even at the level of symbolism -- until the ship steams out of the San Francisco Bay UNLOADED. Let's be honest comrades.

For Working Class Power & Agency,


And I'm pretty sure I know, and respect, the Wobbly who wrote the account of the action that ncwob posted. As much as I consider him a class struggle comrade, it's clear that he got sucked into the collective delusion of the Transport Workers' Solidarity Committee as part of their game of footsie with the real class collaborationists, the SF and Alameda County Central Labor Councils. If the latter 2 groups of bureaucrats were on board with the event, we can be sure that the leaders of the local Democratic Party were 100% on board too.

In the historical references to what has happened before at Bay Area ports, in this case the Port of San Francisco before everything moved across the Bay to Oakland over the last 40 years, there are some erroneous accounts of previous actions. In 1984 it was not a picket line that blocked the unloading of ships from South Africa to protest against Apartheid, but the agency of the longshore rank-and-file -- something completely lacking in last Sunday's media event.

The following is an account forwarded by the daughter of one of the main actors in the 1984 refusal, who herself apparently bought into the illusion that this stunt was "historic":

There were a number of us present at this picket line, who were also involved in the anti-Apartheid actions on the docks in the 1980's.

Here's a correction about what happened in 1984 from my dad, who I had the great honor to walk another historic picket line with this Fathers Day:

"A 'picket line' played no role in the 11 day boycott of South African cargo on the Nedlloyd Kimberley at pier 80 in San Francisco in 1984. The large number of people who assembled twice daily at the pier gates were there in support of the longshoremen who were twice daily dispatched to the ship, went to the ship, looked at the South African cargo, told supervisors that they were refusing to handle the cargo and then went home. This was a longshore workers initiated and implemented action. A picket line is set up to prevent workers or scabs from entering the work site. This was NOT the scenario in 1984.

In 1986, when longshore ILWU Local 10 was still under a federal court injunction against taking concerted union action on apartheid cargo a large group of anti-apartheid activists blockaded the entrance to pier 80 when another Nedlloyd Line vessel was docked with South African cargo. For two shifts the blockaders fought off police attacks. The contract area arbitrator ruled that the longshoremen were justified in not entering the pier on the basis of the "health and safety" provisions of the contract. On the second day the blockade was broken by Mayor Dianne Feinstein's Tac Squad who arrested over a hundred demonstrators including myself, ending the blockade.

I was one of the two longshoremen along with Brother Leo Robinson who were in overall charge of implementing the 1984 boycott action by longshoremen. We were singled out as the two main "co-conspirators" for the action in the Federal Court injunction which ended the strike. It was my motion which was adopted as amended by the Local membership which authorized the boycott.

Perpetuation of this myth that longshoremen did not work the South African cargo on the Nedlloyd Kimberley for 11 days because they were prevented from going to work by a picket denigrates the courage and devotion to international solidarity expressed by the entire San Francisco longshore local who knew that what they were doing was in violation of the Taft-Hartley "slave labor" law and the contract with the employers. Ships Clerk Local 34 also played a key role in that illegal strike action.

Let's not rewrite history!

Howard Keylor (retired ILWU Local 10)"

And as for rank-and-file members of ILWU Local 10 pissed off at being denied overtime pay, I was formerly in ILWU Local 6 so I know some of these workers. The reputation of the ILWU being "radical" or even "progressive" is another myth. But yes, there are a handful of militants who push high-profile media-savvy actions, like invoking the "work-stop" meeting clause in their contracts to shut down 29 ports on the West Coast on May Day 2008.

As I mentioned above, there was a similar picket in May 2007 that was denied a health and safety excuse by the arbitrator and the assembled workers had to vote to honor the picket line. It was fucking tense and there were some near fist fights. But because there was absolutely no media there, the protesters and longshore workers were thrust together and had to talk with each other without the glare of lighting for the TV cameras and the ego posturing and mediations that the press inevitably brings. I talked with a couple dozen rank-and-file longshore workers, who were mostly African American while nearly all of the protesters where white. They said they felt "used" by the agitation of those handful of militants in their union who don't seem interested in their input. I went to the Transport Workers' Solidarity Committee planning meetings for the 2007 action and there were never more than 2 or 3 active longshore workers. It was usually a collection of the usual suspects of left activists, although I'd say the average age was above my own, somewhere in the mid-50s.

My comrades who attended the planning meetings for this past Sunday's event said it was even worse, because it also included Palestinian and Islamacist nationalists who had no class politics -- or were even hostile to them. And the ripeness for media attention drew in an assortment of politicos across the spectrum, from liberals to Stalinists, all joined by an adherence to activistism.


Black Badger
Jun 24 2010 22:41

Back in the 80s there were some demos in San Francisco that I participated in where the WWP/All People's Congress (their other front group from then) goons were involved. At one a monitor (soft cop) pointed out a flag-burning comrade to other monitors, who then pointed her out to the cops, all the while preventing her from retreating behind the metal police barricades. When I confronted the monitor, telling him that cops didn't belong at our protest, some Party hierarch got in my face, yelling that I had no right to criticize the monitor since he was in the FMLN!

At another one against a fundraiser for some Contras, militant protesters were physically prevented from returning behind the police barricade during a mounted police charge with lots of mace. Monitors from APC pushed and knocked over many folks trying to get away from the cops. One organizer jumped on the back of a protester and clawed at his face screaming "You're ruining our demonstration!"

Yet another example was at a demo outside the Israeli embassy in 1985. The WWP/APC goons were there with their PFLP enforcers, and were handing out a flyer with approved slogans. The Trots of the Sparticist League (no favorites of mine) had their own megaphone and their own slogans, which, for all the Sparts' myriad problems, were at least nominally internationalist. The Palestinian and American Stalinists didn't like the anti-nationalist flavor of those slogans, and asked the cops to intervene and keep the Sparts out of the picket, which they were only too happy to do. The cops "protected" the PFLP picket from the Sparts, and then when the cops tired of that they informed the Sparts that they were an illegal assembly and had to disperse or face arrest. Of course they left.

Members of WWP, IAC, ANSWER, PSL (ad nauseum) are not to be trusted, supported, or excused. Rank and file, hierarchs, what does it matter? Bad politics are bad politics. Dupes are just as dangerous as ideologues.

Jun 25 2010 01:58

While I may personally and politcally agree with all of the usual criticms above, the ship was not unloaded. I think that was the goal?

Jun 25 2010 02:03

I understood that the unloading was delayed by one day.

Jun 25 2010 02:06
I understood that the unloading was delayed by one day.

And in Sweden how long? At a minimum it cost ZIM a few hundred thousands

Jun 25 2010 04:03


It was delayed by 2 work shifts. So prob. a couple tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the cargo.

But what was gained in working class consciousness? Does this action stop a specific attack on Gazan working class? Does it make Israeli workers closer to their Palestinian sisters and brothers?

In my opinion it is opportunist and divides the two working classes further. Opportunist because the cargo does represent a specific issue - weapons being sent, etc. The cargo was simply cargo from Israel. Could have been oranges, coloring books, or flash drives. How will this actually aid the workers in Gaza? In my opinion it will aid their ruling class, represented by either Hamas or Fatah - who can say 'see "we" can motivate the world to act in your favor, support us'.

It's kind of like celebrating gang warfare because during the revolution gun knowledge might be needed.

The few of us who stand for internationalism need to stand up for it. We need to educate and advocate for it. Yeah, it's pretty lame right now, but it's what we can and should do.

Jun 25 2010 07:04

in 2007, around the time of the action at the Port of Oakland that I mention above, I read in the Wall Street Journal that when a ship is delayed in a port in the U.S. it costs $30,000 a day. So FNB is exactly right.

Jun 25 2010 10:08
fnbrill wrote:
But what was gained in working class consciousness? Does this action stop a specific attack on Gazan working class? Does it make Israeli workers closer to their Palestinian sisters and brothers?

Do you have any operative suggestion as to how one would go about doing this? On the ground, in Israel, this seems farther away than ever. And perhaps it's a bit unreasonable to expect Palestinian workers in Gaza, and their sympathizers abroad, to wait for the Israeli working class to make the transition from viewing them as subhuman scum and a threat to their very lives to accepting them as brothers in a war against Capital?

Jun 25 2010 12:15

fnbrill, I've no political disagreement with what yo're saying. And I've no real disagreement with the thrust of what Tojiah says either. I guess all this and that about ANSWER and those shits don't really interest me. And I guess, at times, I'm not against symbolic action's.

Jun 25 2010 12:35
And in Sweden how long?

A week and through activity by the dockworkers themselves.

Jun 25 2010 16:07

Syndicalist, I know we don't disagree on this and meant to clarify my post a bit as re-reading it seems much more directed at you than I meant.

I'm also not against symbolic actions, per se, but think we should be talking about pushing working class issues instead of nationalist ones. By discussing this here perhaps next time, or the time after, that those IWWs (or WSAs, or WSPs, or....) participating in the planning will raise working class interests...

Here's some ideas off top of my head:

1) Major issue w/ Palestinian workers is the ability to travel freely even within their own 'territories'. blockade ships with the demand to open travel for Palestinian workers. If addressed to workers as workers would less likely be coopted by nationalist interests.

2) Palestinians, "Israeli Arabs", Druze, Beduins as well as Israeli jews of color are the laborers w/in Israel, can they be brought together somehow, common interests as workers? Joint protests, etc.

3) blockade arms shipments to Israel?

Jun 25 2010 17:09
fnbrill wrote:
But what was gained in working class consciousness? Does this action stop a specific attack on Gazan working class? Does it make Israeli workers closer to their Palestinian sisters and brothers?
Tojiah wrote:
Do you have any operative suggestion as to how one would go about doing this? On the ground, in Israel, this seems farther away than ever. And perhaps it's a bit unreasonable to expect Palestinian workers in Gaza, and their sympathizers abroad, to wait for the Israeli working class to make the transition from viewing them as subhuman scum and a threat to their very lives to accepting them as brothers in a war against Capital?

I agree with what fnbrill writes in the post above.

In response to what Tojiah wrote, I think we need to be clear that groups like ANSWER treat the Israeli and U.S. working class as "subhuman scum" as well, making them directly responsible for all the barbarity of imperialism. This is nonsense that in effect denies that we even live in a class-divided society.

Groups being praised by the demonstrators in Oakland, like Hezbollah and Hamas, have track records of assassinating secular working class militants.

We need to always advocate for class struggle, based on internationalism, despite the overwhelming obstacles in places like Israel and Palestine. Which also means refusing to condone Popular Front coalitions like the one in Oakland that joined Palestinian, Turkish and other Islamicist nationalists, ANSWER's Stalinist protest police, the sectarian left, pro-Democratic Party labor councils and their allies in local elected political office.

I have no interest in symbolic actions, but I am stridently opposed to something billing itself as being based on working class agency when in truth it's a media stunt, done with the full consent of management, the police, and the local ruling class. And here we need to be clear that with the attack on the Gaza flotilla, the U.S. state is attempting to moderate its unconditional support for Israel and will tolerate a mild wrist-slapping with symbolic actions like the one at the Port of Oakland.

And I defy any of you to locate any internationalists in the above 2 photos. If the cranes weren't in the background, it just as easily could be a crowd for a World Cup match.

Jun 26 2010 04:04

Wow...I would like to respond to this as I am a member of the ILWU (Marine Division-IBU) and was peripherally involved with the planning of this action. I have my own critiques and was personally insulted a few times during the planning...which I will go into.

But I would like to briefly defend the nature of these ILWU "shut down" actions. I think they are good first of all because they enforce on a semi-regular basis some of the more radical elements of the longshore contract. It also (and I know this sounds strange but...) keep people "in the practice" of not crossing picket lines. It allows for the membership to become educated about global issues and see themselves as an integral part of global capitalism and commerce. While I agree that most of the members of local 10 are not "radical" by any stretch of the imagination all members have to go through an "educational" program where they learn about the history of the union and come out of this program with a heightened sense of what it means to be a union member, understand why labor and (to a certain extent) political actions are important to the strength of the union and the strategic importance of their union globally.

Also, factually, the ILWU May 1st shutdown against the Iraq war was not a "stop work" meeting. The longshore caucus voted at their yearly convention to take May 1st off as a day of protest against the war in Iraq, they asked their employers for the day off as a "stop work" meeting (which they are allowed according to their contract once a month for a union meeting), their request was denied...there was much hemming a hawing by the leadership. But the union wanted to maintain their position that they were taking the day off because the Longshore Caucus is the highest decision making body in their division of the ILWU, even above the international leadership. So, despite being DENIED a stop work meeting on May first they continued with the coast wide shut down in violation of their employer's (and the international union's) wishes. Those are the facts and I was there during the entire process.

I wasn't particularly pleased with the process for this action. It was extremely tightly controlled by ANSWER. I am a member of the Transport Worker Solidarity Committee (along with the IWW member being mentioned) as well as with other non-aligned radicals mostly from other ILWU locals in the Bay Area. I went to only one meeting (because funny enough I wasn't told about the other meetings) and at this large "public" meeting there was no space made for anyone else to get involved, everything was mandated from the top down by ANSWER members. They also insulted several people who were in the room who helped organize the 2003 Port of Oakland Direct Action to Stop the War protest where several people were shot and assaulted by the Oakland PD. We were told by ANSWER that they would not "let that kind of protest happen again" if the protesters were at fault and not the OPD. At the meeting the only option they gave for getting involved was joining the security team in order to "maintain control" of the protest. I was asked if I would join security...laughing I said that I wasn't interested in joining the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution smile

I agree that the organizing of this protest was fucked up. But the goal was achieved...shutting down the longshore shift for 24 hours and halting the loading of the vessel. I think these kind of actions, while not the "organic" wildcat strikes many people paint them as, are important and its important for people to support the ILWU's ability to enforce/manipulate their contracts in a way that they can support political causes like these.

Fuck...I could go on more...but I'm sure "H" will jump into the fray...I'll post more later...

Jun 26 2010 03:54

Thanks for that G. it clarifies some aspects of the ILWU position.