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Preview: Industrial Workers of the World - Marine Transport Workers Industrial Union 510

Industrial Workers of the World - Marine Transport Workers Industrial Union 510

This page displays *all* news items from Marine Transport Workers Industrial Union 510. For an overview of the IU 510's history and contact information, please visit our homepage.


IWW and radical influences on the San Francisco waterfront

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 00:27:38 +0000

By Hieronymous -, May 3, 2017

(image) For May Day 2017 Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union invoked a contractual "stop-work" privilege and refused to work any Bay Area docks in celebration of International Workers Day for the third consecutive year. This speech, originally delivered at the 75th Anniversary of the 1934 San Francisco General Strike at the Marine Firemen’s Hall in San Francisco, was adapted for the rally preceding the May Day march on May 1, 2017.

    John Ross wrote:
    In my own country
    amnesia is the norm,
    the schools teach us
    to unremember from birth,
    the slave taking, the risings up,
    the songs of resistance,
    the first May first,
    our martyrs from Haymarket
    to Attica to the redwoods of California
    ripped whole from our hearts,
    erased from official memory . . .
    (from "Against Amnesia)

In the 1950s, when he was a North Beach resident, poet Allen Ginsberg shipped out various times with the merchant marines from the Embarcadero. Earlier, the proximity of the waterfront to the vibrant intellectual life of the bohemians and political radicals of North Beach made San Francisco the most radical port city in the U.S. But Ginsberg lived in North Beach during the height of the Cold War, so perhaps it should be expected that his poem “America” has the line:

Allen Ginsberg wrote:
“America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies”

Poet Kenneth Rexroth, who was close to the circle of anarchists and anti-World War II pacifists who founded KPFA in 1949, and earlier had been a soapboxer and wrote for the Waterfront Worker, said this about the pre-World War II period:

Kenneth Rexroth wrote:
. . . people became involved in red San Francisco. The interesting thing is that most of them became practical labor organizers, rather than Bohemians sitting around Union Square arguing about proletarian literature . . . You see, all of us were very actively involved and this makes all the difference in the world. Another thing, very few of these people were orthodox Commies because the basic tradition on the West Coast was IWW.

From the California Gold Rush onwards, a worker on the West Coast could easily go out and get a job in the woods or at sea or in the fields.

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Solidarity Unionism, Occupy, and the moral right of the working class to control the workplace

Tue, 20 Dec 2011 21:10:15 +0000

By "The Union Thug" - originally posted at The views expressed here are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the IWW.

On November 2, 2011 Occupy Oakland successfully shut down the ports in Oakland along with the approval and aid of the union, ILWU Local 10, which has a contract with the port’s legal owners.  This event was a tremendous leap in consciousness and something the U.S. working class has not done nor attempted in decades.  Shortly after, Occupy Oakland passed another resolution for a West Coast port shutdown.  Occupy movements in Portland, Long Beach, Seattle, Vancouver, Anchorage, Honolulu and Tokyo responded.  On December 12, 2011 the Occupy movements succeeded in shutting down the ports completely or partially in most of those cities.  However, this time around Occupy did not have the full support of the unions involved.

This action has sparked debate between Occupy and the traditional labor movement encompassed in the AFL-CIO.  The unions’ argument is that Occupy did not have the right to shut down the workplaces (ports) where they did not work and that this needed to be decided democratically within the bureaucracy of the ILWU.

We don’t buy this argument.  The Occupy movement is a reaction to the ruling class monopolizing the distribution of profits that are produced socially and collectively by the world’s working class.  They use these profits to buy the government and re-instill this class monopoly; therefore, we must find strategic ways to disrupt the creation and movement of these profits as a class. We propose that the Occupy movement adopt a strategy of class struggle known as solidarity unionism and apply it to strategic points in the economic system that we are all protesting against.

In this article we are going to define what solidarity unionism is, as practiced by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW); make the argument that the entire working class has a moral right to every workplace, especially those of strategic importance in the world economy; discuss the 1934 Toledo Electric Auto-Lite strike as a historical example of solidarity unionism; and finally how this type of strategy could further the goals of the Occupy movement.

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Perspective: Unions, OWS, & Blocking the Ports

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 20:41:43 +0000

(image) By Richard Meyers - This article was originally published on Daily Kos and reused under ">fair use guidelines.  Fellow Worker Meyers is involved with Occupy Denver. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone.

There's a debate raging over the OWS port shutdowns, and the role of unions in the shutdowns. Some believe workers have been betrayed; others claim that unions simply cannot signal their support.

Suggesting that a union does, or does not support an action like shutting down the ports (on the basis of what we've seen so far) is a gross oversimplification. In the first place, the no-strike clause has legal implications, with the result that statements of position may exist primarily to satisfy legal obligations.

Second, as we have apparently seen with ILWU 10, there may be significant differences in position and perception between local leadership and national/international leadership.

Third, all of those stating in comments on other KOS articles that they've drawn conclusions based upon what has been published ought to hold their breath; we've never before seen a global movement like OWS interact with a mainstream labor movement before. It is very likely, in spite of pronouncements, that many union leaders at the local AND the national level hadn't yet formed opinions on a one day demonstration port shutdown; many will have awaited the opportunity to assess the effectiveness of, and the public's reactions to, the day's actions.

The history of the labor movement, characteristics of the labor bureaucracy, and the success of the effort (operationally, and perceptually) will play a role in what is about to unfold.

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Occupy the Union – Occupy & Rank and File Hand in Hand

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 20:17:42 +0000

By Emily Loftis As Occupy Wall Street groups stretching from San Diego to Anchorage mobilize for a multi-port shutdown of the North American West Coast, union members are finding the mobilization offers more than just support against union busting and unfair contracts. Activists and rank-and-file workers say the movement is teaching them what the bureaucratic infrastructure of organized labor has made them forget: collective power. On Dec. 12, general assemblies (the decentralized governing bodies of OWS) in Los Angeles, Oakland, Calif., Tacoma, Wash., Santa Barbara, Calif., Portland, Ore., Seattle, Longview, Wash., San Diego, Anchorage, California’s Port Hueneme region, and dozens of smaller camps plan to blockade ports and halt commerce for a day. There is a combined Dallas-Houston effort to demonstrate at the port in Houston. Japanese rail workers, who are sympathetic to longshoremen, who work a partner company of Bunge — the company Occupy is protesting — will be demonstrating in Japan. Farther inland, Denver will try to shut down a Walmart distribution center. Occupy Bellingham may block coal trains; and landlocked California occupiers will bus to the coast. According to the Journal of Commerce, the “West Coast ports handle more than 50 percent of the U.S. containerized trade, including 70 percent of U.S. imports from Asia.” The demonstration is in solidarity with Longview longshoremen who say their jurisdiction is being threatened by multinational grain exporter EGT, as well as port truckers who have been prevented from unionizing in Los Angeles. (Their little-known plight was exposed by Salon in October.) The campaign to shut down what some call “the Wall Street of the Waterfront” is consistent with the general Occupy Wall Street message on the distribution of power and wealth. Yet, the effort faces opposition from the union bureaucracy’s upper echelons, precisely because of the conflict with EGT. Last week officials of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU ) sent out a memo reminding its members: “To be clear, the ILWU, the Coast Longshore Division, and Local 21 are not coordinating independently or in conjunction with any self-proclaimed organization or group to shut down any port or terminal, particularly as it relates to our dispute with EGT in Longview.” (emphasis added). So, paradoxically , where labor conflict is starkest, the union leaders reject outside support, and when Occupy Oakland acts to support the union’s members, the union itself resists. That’s why Dec. 12 looms not just as a test of strength for the Occupy movement. The port shutdown is also shaking up Big Labor. Mobilizing without unions The idea of a port shutdown was born out of an Occupy L.A. plan to demonstrate in solidarity with local port truckers. L.A.’s intentions exploded into a large-scale mobilization to shut down the ports along the entire coast. Shrugging off tent removal, tear gas and rubber bullets, Occupy Oakland has become the nucleus of coordination, holding inter-Occupy conference calls; brainstorming budgets to provide camps with everything from porta-potties to bullhorns; and using union networks to connect rank-and-file members with general assemblies on the West Coast. Hundreds of Oakland citizens are leafletting commuter trains, staging rush-hour banner drops, reaching out to non-unionized workers, and sending out bilingual teams to ethnic boroughs to help populate the blockade. Other local organizations are independently working for the event. For example, the International Socialist Organization immediately began contacting branches in relevant cities while the East Bay Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice will be hosting a pre-march teach-in about the plight of longshoremen and port truckers. As for the possibility of future [...]

Rally Defends Union's Right to Close Bay Area Ports

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 20:42:41 +0000

by Jonathan Nack April 26, 2011

OAKLAND, CA – Supporters of International Longshore & Warehouse Union, Local 10 (S. F. Bay Area) rallied in downtown San Francisco on Monday, April 25, 2011. At issue was defending the union's right to close the ports of Oakland, San Francisco, and other ports in the S. F. Bay Area.

ILWU Local 10 closed the ports of San Francisco and Oakland for twenty-four hours on April 4, 2011, as part of a national day of action called in solidarity with workers in Wisconsin and Ohio, where the rights of state workers to collective bargaining have come under sharp attack [ ].

The employers association at the ports, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) has filed a law suit against Local 10 for the April 4 port closures. The PMA's suit seeks to prevent such future solidarity closures by the union.

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Historic Victory at Oakland Port – Israeli Ship Blocked from Unloading

Mon, 21 Jun 2010 02:26:54 +0000

Note: 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. This article was originally posted here.

(image) 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.

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West Coast Dockworkers Dispute Could Paralyze U.S. Economy

Wed, 05 Mar 2008 20:14:50 +0000

Disclaimer - The opinions of the author do not necessarily match those of the IWW. This article is reposted in accordance to Fair Use guidelines.

By Matt Smith - San Francisco Weekly, February 6, 2008

Imploding U.S. mortgage markets leave behind trillions of dollars in economic damage. The dollar's slide against the euro and the yuan raises fears of a currency collapse. January job losses portend recession.

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Dubai Ports World Uproar—Dockworkers Keep Your Eyes on the Prize!

Thu, 23 Mar 2006 23:14:00 +0000

Disclaimer - The following article is reposted here because it is an issue with some relevance to the IWW. The views of the author do not necessarily agree with those of the IWW and vice versa. 

Maritime Worker Monitor, a rank and file newsletter for maritime workers - Issue #8 • March 10, 2006; Editors: Jack Mulcahy, Portland • Mark Downs, Seattle • Jack Heyman, Oakland 

There’s a lotta smoke being blown about the sale of marine terminals in U.S. East Coast ports from British-owned P&O to Arab-owned Dubai Ports World (DPWorld). Will the sale breach port security? If the anti-union Dubai port employers offered to train scabs in the Australian wharfie contract dispute in 1998 what will they do to the ILA longshoremen now? Are our jobs threatened by foreign-owned employers? Why is President Bush backing the sale of American ports?

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From Watch--don't just read about--the Irish ferry dispute

Thu, 01 Dec 2005 20:44:00 +0000


(image) The story will be a familiar one to many of you.  An employer, fed up with paying union wages, decides to import a few hundred non-unionized workers from poorer countries.  Security guards are brought in to "escort" the new contract workers into the workplace as hundreds of unionized workers are about to get the sack.

This is what Irish Ferries was attempting this week when they ran up against the determined resistance of union members who barricaded themselves onto ships.  Those workers and their union, working together with the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), have turned this from a simple cost-saving move by a heartless management into a major struggle for social justice.  The Irish unions have called for a national day of protest on 9 December.

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New Labor Video: Solidarity Has No Borders-The Journey Of The Neptune Jade

Wed, 23 Nov 2005 11:07:00 +0000

Members of the Bay Area The IWW participated in and played a significant role in the Neptune Jade soildarity actions in 1997.  A detailed history of that struggle is documented here: Steve Zeltser ONCE AGAIN DOCKWORKERS FROM around the world met in Liverpool Sept. 23-24 — this time not to co-ordinate solidarity actions for the Liverpool dockers, but to recognize those unions that participated in the worldwide actions and learned the lessons of that struggle in preparation for future waterfront battles. Liverpool Dockers The Liverpool struggle began 10 years ago when young dockworkers spontaneously set up a picket line over substandard conditions and other union members of the Transport and General Workers Union honored their picket line, as they had always done. All 500 dockers were sacked by the employer, Mersey Docks and Harbour Company. Starting the weekend’s main event, Liverpool dock steward Jimmy Nolan opened by reminding participants that the gathering was not a celebration because the dockworkers did not win their struggle. Rather it was a commemoration of a struggle that reignited militancy and underscored the necessity of international workers’ solidarity in today’s global economy. In the heat of the Liverpool battle, maritime unions around the world awakened to their call from Europe to Japan, from the United States and Canada to Australia and New Zealand. In the end the Liverpool dockers lost because they couldn’t mobilize mass picketing on the Mersey docks to stop scabbing. That key element of solidarity was betrayed by the lack of support of their own union, the Transport and General Workers Union, the Trade Union Congress and British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s so-called New Labour Party. Bob Crow, General Secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT) (whose union has recently been purged from the New Labour Party for its militancy and its opposition to the war in Iraq) fired up the crowd when he cited the illegal strike action by Gate Gourmet workers – mainly South Asian women – earlier that month. Their action sparked an unofficial strike by baggage handlers that grounded all flights of British Airways at Heathrow Airport. He condemned the banning of solidarity actions by Thatcher’s anti-union legislation and left intact by Blair’s New Labour Party. To rousing applause Crow asked, “What’s a ‘secondary’ action? Surely that’s what the trade union movement is based on.” One of the first speakers was ILWU International President Jim Spinosa, who headed a delegation of 15 members and officers. He reminded the audience that the Liverpool dockers’ struggle had inspired longshore workers to network and to organize solidarity actions: first, the Neptune Jade in Oakland in support of the Liverpool dockers, then the Columbus Canada in Los Angeles in support of the Australian wharfies, then actions in defense of the Charleston longshoremen and most recently the bloody police assault on dockworker union president Jorge Silva Baron in Iquique, Chile. Spinosa noted what dockworkers have been learning in this era of international capitalism. “We have to understand how the employers have been able to mobilize and get an upper hand in globalization,” he said. “They project out 10, 15, 20 years. We working people are now doing the same thing, hooking up with organizations and networking around the world in solidarity. We are closing the world tighter and tighter so we can put together actions much quicker than we did for the Liverpool situation.” Receiving a warm applause for his open and honest appraisal, Frank Leys, Secretary of the ITF Dockers Section, acknowledged that mist[...]