No, this is not a post about the recent attack by one segment of organized labor (the SEIU) against another (the CNA) union’s conference (the biennial Labor Notes Conference)- the details of which are more than I care to get into.  But you should go here if you want to try and sort out the details, as well as read-up on the debating factions of the revolutionary left’s (attempts) at interpreting this odd circumstance.  For the record, I’m with NEFAC’s Wayne Price: violence from organized labor against organized labor is not tolerable and should not be supported.

Anyway, what this post is about is the Longshore Caucus of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU)’s recent announcement that on May 1st the dock workers at West Cost ports will shut down in order to protest the illegal and immoral war in Iraq.  This represents the first time in decades that organized labor in the U.S. has taken industrial action to protest war/governmental foreign policy and is a very welcome sign.  The Trotskyist Internationalist Group has a pretty decent write-up about the ILWU’s decision here.  Now, to be fair, the ILWU is very well-known for their militant and quasi radical politics, and they apparently have a long-standing clause in their contract that allows them to to call for monthly “work stoppage meetings”.  For instance, in the past they’ve called for a one-day work-stoppage in solidarity with political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamaal.  Still, industrial action by the working class against the war is a (potentially) very exciting development in the rather sad U.S. labor movement.  

Proudly, the Vermont AFL-CIO has passed a resolution and released a statement declaring their full support and solidarity with the ILWU’s decision to strike for 8 hours in protest of the war.  The VT AFL-CIO Statement about their resolution reads in part that the war in Iraq is:

“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 

Cheers to the ILWU and to the VT AFL-CIO for both doing the right thing.  Lets hope there’s more courage to come from the people of America, the vast majority of whom want this war to end now.  Remember- we have the power to make that happen!

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