Transport Workers Solidarity Committee’s Response to ILWU International’s Statements on ZIM Protests
Recent ILWU press releases and public statements are misleading and conflict with well-established ILWU policies and positions on Palestine and Israel. The editor of the ILWU newspaper, The Dispatcher, at the direction of the ILWU President, can not overturn those policies and positions without a vote by Convention delegates.
The Israeli Consulate’s statement that the ZIM Pireaus sailed from the port of Oakland on August 20 after completing cargo operations is untrue. But for the ILWU Communications Director, Craig Merrilees, to make that same statement, reaffirming the Zionist’s self-serving distortion places the ILWU on the side of those responsible for the recent slaughter of over 2,100 Palestinians, most of them innocent Gazan civilians. The false statement implies that the 5-days of picketing by thousands of protesters had no impact on cargo operations. The original call for a mass protest on August 16 and 17, mobilizing a few thousand was made by a coalition, Block the Boat, initiated by the Arab Research and Organizing Committee. However, subsequent picketing on August 18, 19 and 20 that stopped the ship’s cargo operations was done spontaneously by a smaller group of Bay Area activists, including the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee.
The truth is that after failing to gets its cargo worked at the SSA terminal, ZIM Lines tried to fool protesters that the ship was sailing to Russia, but longshoremen knew otherwise. The ship departed August 19, headed out the Golden Gate at night then abruptly reversed course, made a Williamson turn and headed back to the Port of Oakland, this time to Berth 22. Ports America, the employer, tried to shift longshore workers from another ship to work the ZIM Pireaus but there already was a picket line at the terminal gate. Some ILWU Local 10 members refused to work the ship. Those that reluctantly worked it, despite pressure from the employer and union officials, rebelled by slowing down cargo ops to a crawl. One crane operator boasted that barely 1% of containers was actually moved before the ZIM ship was forced to sail. Continue reading →
[The campaign to stop the export of Israeli goods via the ZIM shipping line continues to have significant effect on the Israeli economy and on the growing strength of the BDS movement worldwide. The article below analyzes the impact of this campaign, and announces a “Block the Boat” action for October 25. And another action has been announced by the Stop ZIM Action Committee for this Saturday, September 27: “Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) Endorses September 27th community picket of Zim Shanghai at Port of Oakland. …Citing the historic four-day blockade of the Zim Piraeus initiated by the Block the Boat coalition last August, the endorsement salutes Oakland dockworkers and community activists for their ‘principled, ongoing and effective solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality’….The Stop ZIM Action Committee, an ad hoc committee formed to organize the September 27th blockade, appeals to all activists to join the picket lines when the Zim Shanghai arrives. We are currently projecting the first assembly at the West Oakland BART Station at 5am on Saturday, September 27th. Please text ‘Join’ to 88202 or monitor @StopZimOak on Twitter for updates closer to the picket date, since the ship may arrive earlier or later.” — Frontlines ed.]
Nothing is more crucial to the success of BDS than the movement’s relationship with organized labor.
Over the past year, the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign has finally gained some widespread political attention in the United States: from the American Studies Association’s vote to endorse the academic boycott of Israel, to the flurry of student votes for divestment at the University of California and other US campuses, to the unprecedentedcriticism that met Scarlett Johansson when she quit her role as global ambassador for Oxfam so she could continue as global ambassador for SodaStream.
Last month’s protests at West Coast ports point not only to the momentum with which BDS has moved forward – more quickly than most activists could have predicted – but also to the possibility of direct action posing an ever graver threat to business as usual for Israel, particularly when organized labor is on board.
Until now, no one had ever kept an Israeli cargo ship from unloading for two consecutive days; we blocked the Zim Piraeus for four.
From Saturday, August 16 to Tuesday, August 19, activists at the Port of Oakland protested Israeli human rights abuses by picketing the berths where the ship intended to offload its cargo.