Thursday, April 24, 2008

Labor Calls for Strike Against the War

(h/t AlterNet)

Take note, John McCain: Labor is calling for a general strike against the war. Specifically, the Vermont AFL-CIO is throwing their support behind the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), who announced it will shut down West Coast ports on May 1st to demand an immediate end to the war and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East.

Here's the VT AFL-CIO press release [my emphasis]:
The Executive Board of the Vermont AFL-CIO, representing thousands of workers in countless sectors across Vermont, have unanimously passed an historic resolution expressing their "unequivocal" support for the first US labor strike against the war in Iraq.

Montpelier, VT - The Executive Board of the Vermont AFL-CIO, representing thousands of workers in countless sectors across Vermont, have unanimously passed an historic resolution expressing their "unequivocal" support for the first US labor strike against the war in Iraq. The strike, being organized by the Longshore Caucus of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU), will seek to shutdown all west coast ports for a period of 8 hours on the day of May 1st 2008. The Vermont AFL-CIO is the first state labor federation to publicly back the Longshoremen; other state federations are expected to follow.

The resolution, among other things, calls the war in Iraq "immoral, unwanted, and unnecessary", states that the vast majority of working Vermonters oppose the war, and contends that the war will only be brought to an end by "the direct actions of working people." Many other Vermont labor unions and organizations, including the Vermont Workers' Center, have also made official statements condemning the war.

The resolution also calls on working Vermonters to "discuss the actions of the Longshoremen, to wear anti-war buttons, and to take various actions of their own design and choosing in their workplace on May 1st, 2008."

"Workers in Vermont and all across this nation are against this war. We have already demanded that the government end it, but they have consistently failed to heed our words. Therefore working people are beginning to take concrete steps to make our resistance known. If the war does not immediately end we, the unions and working people of Vermont, will also be compelled to take appropriate action," said David Van Deusen, a District Vice President of the Vermont AFL-CIO.

Traven Leyshon, President of the Washington, Lamoille & Orange County Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, said, "Vermont labor has long called for an end to this war. The untold billions being spent on the war could instead be used to address our domestic needs. It is working people who pay the cost of the war - in some cases with our lives, but always with our sacrifices."
Labor looks out for us. The same can't be said for John McCain and friends.

You can read the full text of the resolution here.

(Cross-posted at Blogging for Michigan.)

3 comments:

abi said...

What a great idea. Was there ever an organized labor strike against a war before in the US? I can't remember one.

Larry said...

While they are at it a Labor Strike against "Free Trade" should take place as well.

Kathy said...

Abi, the link in the first paragraph gives a brief synopsis of labor strikes against war. Here's a snippet of information:

In the U.S., the ILWU struck in 1948 amid Cold War hysteria and in defiance of the “slave labor” Taft-Hartley Act to defend its union hiring hall against the bosses and government screaming about “reds” in the union leadership. In 1953, at the height of McCarthyite witch-hunting, the ILWU called a four-day general strike in Hawaii of sugar, pineapple and dock workers over the jailing of seven union members for being communists. During the Vietnam War, socialist historian Isaac Deutscher said that he would trade all the peace marches for a single dock strike. The ILWU was the first U.S. union to oppose the Vietnam war, but during war and especially during the 1971 strike union leader Harry Bridges refused to stop the movement of military cargo. (Ship owners made use of this by falsely labeling cargo as “military” to evade picket lines and undermine the strike.)

These weren't large scale strikes, but I think unions have the potential to make a difference if they band together, i.e. power in numbers.

Larry, I think unions could get the support of a lot of non-union workers in this area too. Blue collar, white collar...workers are definitely feeling pain and anxiety as they watch more and more jobs go out of the country.