‘Defend Occupy Oakland with the Muscle of Organized Labor!’

The occupation movement is a beautiful and important development in struggle. People are in the streets feeling their power as they fight back against a system that exploits and oppresses; that privileges money and banks over people, animals, the earth, life!  Many of us know that and have dedicated our lives to spreading those politics, and building revolutionary struggle. But it is the act of struggle that shapes people’s consciousness and makes them into revolutionaries; it is the experience of being beaten by the police, who are supposedly there to serve and protect, that makes them understand the contradictions of a system that is supposedly based on freedom and democracy. It is the actions of our oppressors and our response to it that makes people into revolutionaries and what makes revolutions. In Mass Strike Rosa Luxemburg speaks to the importance of struggle for shaping peoples consciousness. She claims the quickest and best way to transform people into revolutionaries is through participation in class struggles. I see this happening in Oakland and all around the world. This is why the occupation movement has been so inspiring. What will make it revolutionary is when workers become involved; and not only occupy their workplaces, but take them over for the people. We do not need bosses they need us. Once labor becomes involved in this movement and begins to shut down this whole capitalist system of production then we weaken them and become closer to having a revolution and truly freeing ourselves. An inspiring General Assembly at Occupy Oakland this week resulted in a proposal being passed for a General Strike on November 2nd, this coming wednesday. Organized labor has started to get involved and support, such a proposal. ILWU Local 10, who continues to be militant leaders within organized labor, issued this statement in support of the strike below. The port workers of ILWU continue to model to the rest of labor the power workers have to not only strike and struggle for themselves, but also for a different world; a better world. Please read the statement below and share it with your co-workers; pass it out to other unions. We must take the history that labor has already made and spread to other workers so that they are inspired and begin to see themselves not only as workers at a particular workplace, but as a fighting class against the entire patriarchal capitalist system.

Demonstrators in downtown Oakland protesting the bank-driven economic crisis were brutally attacked by police from 18 Bay Area agencies on Tuesday Oct. 25. Mayor Quan, who was supported by ILWU Local 10 in the recent elections, ordered this bloody assault. Cops used potentially lethal weapons to break up the occupation of Frank Ogawa (now renamed Oscar Grant) Plaza just as they did in the port against anti-war protesters in 2003. That police attack was even criticized by the UN Human Rights Commission and ended up costing Oakland over $2 million in civil suits.Then-Local 10 longshoreman Billy Kepo’o was hit in the hand by a police Oakland teachers march in solidarity with Occupy Oakland, Oct. 26. tear gas canister causing a bloody mess. Now, Iraqi war vet, Scott Olsen, was hit in the head with a police projectile, causing a fracture and putting him in critical condition in Highland Hospital. This is exactly what killed one of the strikers in Seattle in the Big Strike of 1934. That history of police violence against strikers is why our Local 10 Constitution bans cops from membership in our union.Last year, Local 10 shut down all ports to protest the police killing of young Oscar Grant. This year ILWU has been supporting Occupy Wall Street. Just last Monday the San Francisco Labor Council declared the Occupy San Francisco and Occupy Wall Street “sanctioned union strike lines” offering the protesters an umbrella of union protection.

ILWU is under attack from PMA employers, not just here in the port of Oakland but especially in Longview, Washington. Our jobs and the survival of the ILWU as a fighting union are at stake. We heard the report of our Longview Local 21 brothers at our union meeting last week and we pledged our solidarity, just as we did for other unions under attack, whether in Charleston, South Carolina or Madison, Wisconsin.

At the same time there is an outrage at the bankers and the capitalist crisis which has caused massive hardship on the working class. Occupy Oakland protesters have called for a General Strike on November 2. Whether this actually means real strike action by workers depends in large part on union participation. Local 10 has always been in the lead in the labor movement and all eyes are on us. As a first step, in defending our union and others against economic and political repression, we need to mobilize our members to participate in the rally and occupation November 2 in Oscar Grant Plaza. Shut it down!

Anthony Leviege ILWU #9576, Ronnie Armour #9922, Troy Bell #9837, Tremaine Waters #9202, Richard Washington #9402, Anthony Manning #9986, Odis Rucker #9811, Robert Grissom #101284, Jack Heyman #8780 (ret.), Samantha Levens (S.F. IBU), Robert Irminger (S.F. IBU), Howard Keylor #220447 (ret.), Clarence Thomas #8718
— October 28, 2011

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