[Marxism] ŒNo Peace No Work¹ May Day Report By The Editors Socialist Viewpoint

Bonnie Weinstein giobon at comcast.net
Mon Jun 2 15:05:59 MDT 2008


ŒNo Peace No Work¹ May Day Report
By The Editors
Socialist Viewpoint
May/June 2008
[See UTube Video of March at this site.]

³No peace, no work!² was the slogan printed on the buttons distributed to
rank-and-file longshoremen and their supporters marching against the war on
Iraq and Afghanistan on May 1. And that¹s exactly what happened. All West
Coast U.S. ports were shutdown tight for eight hours May 1st to protest the
wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. As the San Francisco Chronicle put it,
³Operations in Oakland and other West Coast ports ground to a halt Thursday
after ILWU workers stayed off the job...and brought cargo operations to a
virtual standstill.²

The mobilization for a ³No Peace, No Work Holiday² was the result of a
resolution passed by the Coast Caucus of the International Longshore and
Warehouse Union (the rank-and-file decision-making body of the international
union) on February 8 this year. The resolution was submitted by San
Francisco ILWU local 10. It called for an immediate end to the U.S. wars
against Iraq and Afghanistan through the withdrawal of U.S. forces (see page
15, Socialist Viewpoint, March-April, 2008).

Powerful forces tried to stop the action. The bosses, operating through the
Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), opposed and tried to stop the work
action, even getting an arbitrator to try to order the workers to work on
May 1. The top union officers tried to water down the words of the action,
changing the content from ³immediate withdrawal² of U.S. forces to the
³safe² withdrawal of forces (a formulation more in line with the Democratic
Party officeholders who speak against the war but who vote to continue
funding it on the phony grounds of ³supporting the troops²). And although
this was an unprecedented action by American workers resisting the U.S.
military crusade in the Middle East with a work stoppage, the bosses¹ media
mouthpieces almost completely blocked it out of the news media, even on the
West Coast.

But it happened anyway. The ILWU showed the working class of the United
States and the world the way forward, reviving the traditions of a labor
movement that acts in defense of the working class, and isn¹t afraid to show
the real power workers have. If longshore workers don¹t load the ships, the
war materiel won¹t be transported. Without war materiel, the U.S. cannot
wage war. If the factories that make the weapons and ammunition, the tanks
and ATVs, stopped production, the war could not be prosecuted. And no issue
is more central to the interests of the working class than the issue of war.

May 1 showed the potential and the power of the working class to act in its
own interests. The war could not be carried out if U.S. workers acted
collectively at the point of production to stop it. That is the shining
example set by the ILWU to the working class. The action showed that the
interests of workers in the U.S. are the same as the interests of workers in
the very countries being attacked by U.S. imperialism.

Longshoreman crane operator, Jack Heyman, one of authors and main leaders of
the May 1st work stoppage, responded to attacks on the action on the

³[E]ver since the 2003 ILWU Convention here in San Francisco, our union has
been opposed to the war and for the immediate withdrawal of troops. It was a
resolution submitted by my local, Local 10, and passed after lengthy and
democratic debate. This May Day antiwar action also passed the Caucus after
a full and democratic debate with only a few voting against. It¹s not only
the right thing to do; it¹s consistent with ILWU¹s Ten Guiding Principles.
It just so happens that the majority of people in this country
overwhelmingly oppose the war. The Caucus resolution pointed out that both
Democrat and Republican politicians continue to fund this war despite
popular opinion, and we have a unique opportunity to make a powerful antiwar
statement that reflects the will of the majority not only of ILWU members
but of working people in this country.

³The resolution calls for bringing the troops out of the Middle East and
back to the U.S. It¹s interesting to note that French dockworkers also went
on strike to get French troops out of the Vietnam War in the Œ50s.²

In response to an attack on the action as one favoring immigrants¹ rights,
Heyman said, ³As far as Œillegal aliens¹ the founder of our union was one.
Harry Bridges, a seaman at the time, jumped ship in New Orleans. ILWU
defends immigrant workers¹ rights, a position we¹ve consistently adopted at
ILWU Conventions. Last May Day the Caucus was adjourned so delegates could
participate in an immigrant workers¹ rights rally in front of San
Francisco¹s City Hall.... As far as May Day, it¹s a workers¹ holiday that
was started in Chicago in the struggle for the 8-hour day. The labor
movement in this country needs [to] know its proud history and reclaim its

The ILWU¹s May Day action had important support from Iraqi dockworkers, U.S.
postal workers, and endorsements from unionists in Britain, New Zealand,
Canada and other countries. The San Francisco Labor Council passed a motion
on March 24th in solidarity with the action, encouraging ³other unions to
follow ILWU¹s call for a ŒNo Peace-No Work Holiday¹ or other labor actions
on May Day, to express their opposition to the U.S. wars and occupations in
the Middle East.²

The editors of Socialist Viewpoint applaud the ILWU workers for leading the
way forward in building an antiwar movement that can really end the war. In
this issue we are printing a transcript of an interview by Amy Goodman, of
the Democracy Now! Radio program with ILWU rank and file leader, Jack Heyman
as well as two letters from the Port Workers Union of Iraq to the ILWU and
to ³workers and all peace-loving people of the world,² and the S.F. Labor
Council resolution.

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