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United States: Victory as protesters and union block Israeli ship unloading at Oakland Port

Video by Tom Vee TV. More video below.

[For more information about trade union solidarity with Palestine, click HERE.]

June 20, 2010 -- ANSWER -- In a historic action and unprecedented action today, more 800 worker 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.

From 5:30 am to 9:30 am, a militant and spirited protest was held in front of four gates of the Stevedore Services of America, with people chanting non-stop, “Free, free Palestine, don’t cross the picket line” and “An injury to one is an injury to all, bring down the apartheid wall".

Citing the health and safety provisions of their contract, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers refused to cross the picketline to report for duty.

Between 8:30 am and 9:00 am, an emergency arbitration was conducted at the Maersk parking lot nearby, with an “instant” arbitrator called to the site to rule on whether the workers could refuse to cross the picketline without disciplinary measure.

At 9:15 a.m, after again reviewing the protests of hundreds at each gate, the arbitrator ruled in favour of the union that it was indeed unsafe for the workers to enter the docks.

To loud cheers of “Long live Palestine!” Jess Ghannam of Free Palestine Alliance and Richard Becker of the ANSWER Coalition announced the victory. Ghannam said, “This is truly historic, never before has an Israeli ship been blocked in the United States!”

The news that a container ship from the Zim Israeli shipping line was scheduled to arrive in the Bay Area today has sparked a tremendous outpouring of solidarity for Palestine, especially in the aftermath of the Israeli massacre of volunteers bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza on May 31.

With 10 days advance notice of the ship’s arrival, the emergency Labor/Community Committee in Solidarity with the Palestinian People was set up. On June 16, some 110 people from unions and community came to help organise logistics, outreach and community support. Initiating organisations included the Al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition, the ANSWER Coalition, the Bay Area Labor Chapter of USLAW and the Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice.

The Labor/Community Committee in Solidarity with the People of Palestine also included: Arab American Union Members Council, Palestine Youth Network, US Palestine Community Network,  Arab Youth Organization, MECA -- Middle East Children's Alliance, Students for Justice in Palestine, Arab Resource and Organizing Center, International Action Center, International Solidarity Movement, San Jose Peace and Justice Center, International Socialist Organization, Peace and Freedom Party -- SF, Transport Workers Solidarity Committee and many labor activists in the Bay Area.

This week the San Francisco Labor Council [see below] and Alameda Labor Council passed resounding resolutions denouncing Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Both councils sent out public notices of the dock action.

The ILWU has a proud history of extending its solidarity to struggling peoples the world over. In 1984, as the Black masses of South Africa were engaged in an intense struggle against South African apartheid, the ILWU refused for a record-setting 10 days to unload cargo from the South African Ned Lloyd ship. Despite million-dollar fines imposed on the union, the longshore workers held strong, providing a tremendous boost to the anti-apartheid movement.

Today’s Oakland action, in the sixth largest port in the United States, is the first of several protests and work stoppages planned around the world, including Norway, Sweden and South Africa. It is sure to inspire others to do the same.

The goal is for a 24-hour shutdown of the docks where the Israeli ship is docked, so the protest is planned again for 4:30 pm. Click here for details of the 4:30 pm. protest.

Featuring the Brass Liberation Orchestra.


San Francisco Labor Council Resolution regarding the attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla, calling for an independent international investigation, and opening of the Gaza border

Adopted June 14, 201

Whereas many labour organisations, including:

International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) 

International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) 

International Dockworkers Council (IDC)

International Federation of Journalists 

Public Services International (PSI) 

Education International (EI) 

Trades Union International -- Building, Wood, Building Materials & Allied Industries 

Australian Council of Trade Unions 

Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) -- Ontario

Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and National Union of Mineworkers (S. Africa)

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

Irish Congress of Trade Unions and IMPACT, Ireland's largest public and services union

Maritime Union of Australia 

National Union of Journalists in UK 

Greek General Confederation of Labor (GSEE)

Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)

Swedish Dock Workers Union

Norwegian Dock Workers Union, and Norwegian Labor Federation LO

Trades Union Congress UK 

UNISON, the largest public sector union in Britain

UNITE, Britain's largest union

U.S. Labor Against the War

Arab American Union Members Council

Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice

International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU), Local 10

Alameda County Central Labor Council

have condemned the May 31st Israeli commando attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla, which killed at least nine unarmed people and seized and detained some 700 passengers and crew. Many of these labor organizations, as well as the U.N. and Amnesty International, have also called for an independent international investigation of the attack and for a permanent opening of the Gaza border in accordance with international law; and

Whereas the Elders, a group started by Nelson Mandela including six Nobel peace prize winners (former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, former US President Jimmy Carter, detained Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and former Archbishop Desmond Tutu) described as "completely inexcusable" the Israeli attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla and stated: "This tragic incident should draw the world's attention to the terrible suffering of Gaza's 1.5 million people, half of whom are children under the age of 18," and also noted that "the treatment of the people of Gaza is one of the world's greatest human rights violations and that the blockade is Š illegal"; and

Whereas the aid carried on the ship was strictly humanitarian in nature, containing materials such as wheelchairs, medical, school and building supplies and non-perishable foods -- items that Israel has refused to allow into Gaza since 2007, or only in insufficient amounts to meet the pressing needs of Gaza's people; and

Whereas the military assault on the Gaza Aid Flotilla was carried out in the dead of night in international waters in violation of accepted norms of state conduct regarding use of the open ocean for non-military purposes; and

Whereas, in solidarity with the people of Gaza, the Swedish Dock Workers Union is refusing to work Israeli ships from June 22-29, and the Norwegian dock workers have agreed not to work Israeli cargo from June 15-29 -- in response to the attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla; and

Whereas the San Francisco Labor Council has previously adopted two resolutions calling for the lifting of the blockade against Gaza.

Therefore be it resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council join the long list of labor organizations around the world and the International Committee of the Red Cross, in condemning the unwarranted May 31st attack by the Israeli military on the unarmed humanitarian aid flotilla sailing in international waters; and

Be it further resolved that the council join the UN, Amnesty International, ITUC, COSATU and the many other labor and civil society organizations in calling for an independent international investigation of the attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla; and

Be it further resolved that the council reaffirms its position in calling on Israel to lift the blockade, so the people of Gaza can have normal communication, travel and commerce with the rest of the world; and

Be it finally resolved that the council communicate this resolution to affiliated unions, area labor councils, community allies, the California Federation of Labor, the AFL-CIO, Change to Win, all members of the House and Senate who represent the jurisdiction of this council, and to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

[Resolution adopted near-unanimously by the San Francisco Labor Council at the regular delegates meeting held June 14, 2010 in San Francisco, California.]

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