"US Uniting Against War" Jeremy Corbyn Presentation at SF ILWU Local 10 on 10/20/07

US Uniting Against War
Jeremy Corbyn Presentation on 10/20/07 at SF ILWU Local 10
US Uniting Against War
By Jeremy Corbyn

British Labor MP Jeremy Corbyn reports from the U.S. on the one-day labor conference hosted by the ILWU to build opposition to the war in Iraq and calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. It took place in San Francisco on Saturday, October 20, 2007.

The International Longshoremen and Warehouse Men’s Union (ILWU) has a long and very honorable tradition of international solidarity.

Its members are organized in all the ports and docks on the west coast of the U.S. and in Hawaii and are a very powerful force in the U.S. labor movement.

Their legendary leader, the late Harry Bridges, is revered for the battles during the Great Depression, when labor fought for its existence against the overwhelming might of their employers.

It is not an insular or inward-looking organization and has supported struggles and causes all around the world. On his release from prison in 1990, Nelson Mandela made specific reference to the support that ILWU members had given in practical sanctions to the apartheid regime.

They also gave huge financial and real support to the miners in Britain during the 1984-5 strike and, more recently, they gave all support possible to the Liverpool dockers during their heroic struggle to save jobs on the Merseyside docks.

The ILWU exemplifies some of the best traditions of the U.S. labor movement of linking industrial and political actions. Meetings are held in the ILWU “hiring hall” which, in the daytime, acts as an employment exchange for dockworkers and, in the evenings, is a place of debate and discourse. Huge banners adorn the concrete walls opposing the Department of Homeland Security and the war in Iraq and calling for social justice such as free health care in the U.S.

Last weekend, it organized a one-day conference on building opposition to the war in Iraq and calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

It has participated in all of the big anti-war demonstrations since 2003 and is calling for support for next weekend’s coast-to-coast activities demanding peace in Iraq.

The conference was opened by Jack Heyman of ILWU Local 10, who was one of the speakers at the million-plus demonstration in London in 2003. He outlined the reasons why the union had called the conference and was supporting the anti-war effort, with particular focus on the growing crisis of the poorest people in the U.S., lack of funding for schools and increasing attacks on civil liberties through the Department of Homeland Security.

Outside the hall in the tourist centre that is Fisherman’s Wharf of San Francisco, one could see significant numbers of beggars. Indeed, one man whom I met, who was collecting money for soup kitchens, told me that most of the people who were living rough and were making use of the soup kitchens were ex-soldiers. As if to drive the point home, ABC News reported last Saturday that 100,000 U.S. combatants in Iraq were now seeking psychiatric help at home—victims of the war just as much as everybody else.

The speakers at the conference included Cindy Sheehan, who is famous for her camp outside the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, and her worldwide campaigning despite her terrible personal loss in Iraq. She personifies the disappointment of many in the United States who voted Democrat in the mid-term elections to wrest control of both the House and the Senate from Bush’s clutches, only to find that, despite votes for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops, Congress has nevertheless gone on to provide Bush with the funds to maintain an occupation of Iraq.

Clarence Thomas, not to be confused with his ultra-conservative namesake in the Supreme Court, but the organizer of the million-plus march in Washington, spoke for many in the black community when he highlighted education and achievement problems, the disproportionate number of blacks in the armed services and the declining living standards of many of the poorest people to pay for a war that is now running into many billions of dollars.

The international flavor of the event was also emphasized by a delegation from the Japanese Railway Workers Union, who described their struggle against privatization and their contribution to try to prevent the militarization of Japan.

The conference was an organization of working-class activists, mainly from the west coast of the U.S., and included a very well-received speech calling for an amnesty for migrant workers to grant them legal status in the U.S. and a very powerful speech from the president of the Oakland Education Association Betty Olson-Jones, who described on behalf of teachers the shortage of funding in schools, again linked to the war.

To many outside the United States, the lack of a public health-care system has always been a cause of bemusement. It was not surprising that one of the campaigns that was represented there was for a proposition of the establishment of a fully funded public health-care system—an exciting development and a far cry from the infamous proposition 13 to cut public taxation which originally propelled Reagan to the U.S. presidency.

The war in Vietnam ended with the loss of a million lives in Vietnam, 55,000 U.S. soldiers’ dead and many thousands more who later committed suicide at home. It is too easy to draw complete parallels with Vietnam, but the cost, loss of life and anger that is being created at home in the U.S. should not be forgotten and is fuelling a major part of the worldwide anti-war movement.

The Turkish parliament voted to send troops across the border into northern Iraq at the weekend despite the entreaties of the United States and many other countries.

The regular bombardment of alleged Kurdish positions in northern Iraq has intensified as the Turkish army moves thousands of troops along the border.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is now putting pressure on the administrations in Baghdad and Irbil to do the job of the Turkish forces for them by attacking Turkish Kurdish positions in Iraq.

Amid all the self-righteous indignation on the part of the U.S. and the governments of Turkey and Iraq, the situation facing many Kurdish people in southeastern Turkey seems to have been forgotten. Full recognition of language and political rights has not yet been won and repeated ceasefires by the PKK have not been followed up with political dialogue by either the government of Turkey or the international community.

Perhaps, instead of heading into another awful conflict, we should look at the underlying causes of Kurdish discontent in south-eastern Turkey and recognize that, unless those rights of expression, assembly and organization are observed, all the fulminating in the world from Rice will not bring about peace or justice.

Jeremy Corbyn is Labor MP for Islington North. He can be contacted at corbynj@parliament.uk

Labor Conference To Stop The War

Jeremy Corbyn At SF Labor Conference To Stop The War

—October 24, 2007

Labor leaders gather in Ssn Francisco to oppose Iraq war
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/10/20/MN0GSTIOK.DT... ^
Posted on October 20, 2007 at 3:29:52 PM PDT by World_Events

Labor leaders from around the world gathered in San Francisco today to call on workers to stand up and take organized action against war in Iraq, saying that politicians can't be counted on to halt the bloodshed.

Several speakers cited the civil rights movement of the 1950s and the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960s as models to follow, saying that both achieved change that would not have occurred if matters had been left in the hands of those running the country.

"Until people get off their asses and do something, there won't be a change," Clarence Thomas, past secretary-treasurer of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 and a third-generation ILWU member, told the audience at the local's hall near Fishermen's Wharf.

Jeremy Corbyn, a Labour Party member of Parliament in Britain, cited the staggering number of civilian deaths in the Iraq war and the thousands of returning soldiers who have needed psychiatric care to deal with what they faced during battles in that country.

Corbyn told the audience of about 150 labor officials that the war in Iraq is "a disaster of the grandest scale possible for the people of Iraq and the rest of us."

Thomas, whose local and ILWU local 34 co-hosted the conference, and other speakers said that leaders at the conference should go back to their unions and begin a dialogue resulting in concrete actions that highlight their opposition to the war.

Several speakers mentioned that while billions of dollars funnel into the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, there are urgent needs for health care, education, disaster relief and housing that go unmet or underfunded.

2007 Labor Conference To Stop The War And Jeremy Corbyn At ILWU Local 10 on December 27, 2017

2007 Labor Conference To Stop The War


October 20, 2007 at 9:00 am

ILWU Local 10 at 400 North Point St.

San Francisco, California 94133

As the war in Iraq and Afghanistan enters its seventh year, opposition to the war among working people in the United States and the world is massive and growing. The “surge” strategy of sending in more and more troops has become a fiasco for the Pentagon generals, while thousands of Iraqis are killed every month. Before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, millions marched against the war in Britain, Italy and Spain as hundreds of thousands took to the streets in the U.S. to oppose it. But that didn’t stop the invasion. In the U.S., this “war on terror” has meant wholesale assault on civil liberties and workers’ rights, like the impending imposition of the hated TWIC card for port workers. And the war keeps going on and on, as Democrats and Republicans in Congress keep on voting for it.

As historian Isaac Deutscher said during the Vietnam War, a single strike would be more effective than all the peace marches. French dockworkers did strike in the port of Marseilles and helped bring an end to the war in Vietnam. To put a stop to this bloody colonial occupation, labor must use its power.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has opposed the war on Iraq since the beginning. In the Bay Area, ILWU Local 10 has repeatedly warned that the so-called “war on terror” is really a war on working people and democratic rights. Around the country, hundreds of unions and labor councils have passed motions condemning the war, but that has not stopped the war. We need to use labor’s muscle to stop the war by mobilizing union power in the streets, at the plant gates and on the docks to force the immediate and total withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

The clock is ticking. It’s time for labor action to bring the war machine to a grinding halt and end this slaughter. During longshore contract negotiations in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, Bush cited port security and imposed the slave-labor Taft-Hartley Law against the ILWU in collusion with the maritime employers group PMA and with the support of the Democrats. Yet, he did nothing when PMA shut down every port on the U.S. West Coast by locking out longshore workers just the week before!

In April 2003, when antiwar protesters picketed war cargo shippers, APL and SSA, in the Port of Oakland, police fired on picketers and longshoremen alike with their “less than lethal” ammo that left six ILWU members and many others seriously injured. We refused to let our rights be trampled on, sued the city and won. Democratic rights were reasserted a month later when antiwar protesters marched in the port and all shipping was stopped. This past May, when antiwar protesters and the Oakland Education Association again picketed war cargo shippers in Oakland, longshoremen honored the picket line. This is only the beginning.

Last year, Local 10 passed a resolution calling to “Strike Against the War – No Peace, No Work.” The motion emphasized the ILWU’s proud history in opposing wars for imperial domination, recalling how in 1978 Local 10 refused to load bombs for the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. In the 1980’s, Bay Area dock workers highlighted opposition to South African apartheid slavery by boycotting (“hot cargoing”) the Nedlloyd Kimberly, while South African workers waged militant strikes to bring down the white supremacist regime.

Now Locals 10 and 34 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have called for a “Labor Conference to Stop the War” to hammer out a program of action. We’re saying: Enough! It’s high time to use union power against the bosses’ war, independent of the “bipartisan” war party. The ILWU can again take the lead, but action against the war should not be limited to the docks. We urge unions in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the country to attend the conference and plan workplace rallies, labor mobilizations in the streets and strike action against the war.