The longshoremen’s union – ILWU – Local 10 has voted to shut down the Port of Oakland on May Day (May 1) to protest police racism and murders and brutality. This is a very good first step, but it is only a first step. It should be followed by a shut down of the entire city of Oakland, as Occupy Oakland did. This follow-up would be a step towards building a more long-lasting movement.
Coming to the point of a citywide shutdown could only be achieved if labor took its own struggle against the employers to the next level. Taking in the Fight for 15 fast food workers would be part of this. As far as port workers the struggle of the truckers should be integrated into the longshore contract fight. In Los Angeles there had been a strike the same week over wage theft and the misclassification of many drivers at two large trucking companies. The longshore union is divided within itself over the way in which automation is being brought on the waterfront. Similar to the advent of containerization in the 1970’s, there are more concessions of direct worker control over the handling of cargo as new technology is phased in over time. The loss of work under the jurisdiction of the union is exchanged for immediate wage and benefit increases.
It is also important to remember the history of the Genreral Strike in Oakland just after the war in 1946. The leaders of the unions which were legacies of the 1934 General strike in maritime did not directly aid the striking women department store workers. They still loaded and unloaded ships docked at the old Army base and crewed the ships with seaman. It was only the Teamster bus and delivery drivers who took it upon themselves without sanction from their union tops to stop traffic in and out of the downtown area for some time.