May 1, 2008
Dockworkers Protest Iraq War
By JOHN HOLUSHA
Thousands of dockworkers at West Coast ports stayed off the job on Thursday in what their union said was a call for an end to the war in Iraq.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union said more than 25,000 members in 29 ports stayed off the job. The action came despite an order issued Wednesday by an arbitrator directing the union to tell its members to report for work as usual in response to a request from employers.
“Longshore workers are standing down on the job and standing up for America,” Bob McEllrath, the union’s president, said in a statement. “We’re supporting the troops and telling politicians in Washington that it’s time to end the war in Iraq.”
The scene at most West Coast ports was quiet, without any scuffles or confrontations. The cranes used to unload container ships stood idle and few trucks were lined up outside gates.
Guillermo Durell, 45, a truck driver, was at the Los Angeles-area port of Long Beach. “I got up at 6 a.m. to drop a load off,” he said. “When I got here the security guard said ‘Drop this, but that’s it. We’re all leaving.’ ”
Mr. McEllrath said the walkout was not ordered by the union’s leadership, but was the result of a “democratic decision” made by the rank and file in February to demonstrate on May 1, a traditional day for labor activism.
He said employers were notified in advance of the plan, but refused to accommodate the union’s request, instead seeking the arbitrator’s ruling.
The longshore union and other labor groups are planning marches and rallies in various cities along the West Coast, and authorities in some location warned that these activities could snarl traffic during the evening commute.
Rebecca Cathcart contributed reporting from Long Beach, Calif.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
May Day Heroes!! Dockworkers Protest Iraq War!