May 1st International Workers' Day will see significant actions by union workers against the war in Iraq. The most significant action will be taken by the dockworkers in San Francisco. Their decision to stop work on May 1st to express their opposition to the war in Iraq is a profound action. In a year in which Republicans and Democrats continue to promote policies that will prolong the war, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) is representing the opposition of a majority of people in the United States to the war.
The ILWU's resolution calls for support from other segments of labor. "That it is time to take labor's protest to a more powerful level of struggle by calling on unions and working people in the U. S. and internationally to mobilize for a 'No Peace No Work Holiday' May 1, 2008 for 8 hours to demand an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U. S. troops from the Middle East; and That a clarion call from the ILWU be sent with an urgent appeal for unity of action to the AFL-CIO, the Change to Win Coalition and all of the international labor organizations to which we are affiliated to bring an end to this bloody war once and for all."
The Green Party of the United States and its state parties have been actively opposed to the war and will work to pass not only resolutions from city councils but other forms of legislation and referenda that seeks to re-orient American foreign and domestic policies. In an article co-authored by Green Ben Manski, it is reported: "Over 300 cities, towns, counties and states have expressed opposition to continuing the war. Fully half of the U.S. population either affirmatively voted in popular referenda for withdrawal from Iraq, or are represented by elected city councils, town boards or state legislatures that voted for withdrawal. The wisdom of the American people continues unabated." These cities include significant metropolitan areas such as New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as smaller towns and cities such as Albuquerque, NM, State College, PA and Arcata, CA across the US.
Green candidates for the Presidential nomination Cynthia McKinney, Kat Swift, Kent Mesplay and Jesse Johnson all united in opposition to the war in Iraq at a candidates' forum in San Francisco. "While Democrats have retreated, our own Green presidential candidates -- Jesse Johnson, Cynthia McKinney, Kent Mesplay, and Kat Swift -- have aggressively promoted the Green Party's position on the wars and on impeachment," said Dr. Julia Willebrand, co-chair of the Green Party's International Committee In this press release on March 10, the GPUS stated its support for the action of the ILWU. "Along with the election of Greens to Congress, actions like those planned by ILWU members are what we need to force the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan," said Rodger Jennings, Green candidate for the US House in Illinois (District 12) . "The longshore workers intend to press Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to change their warhawk positions. Like the Green Party, the ILWU has opposed both of President Bush's wars from the beginning."
In New York City, the NY Metro Area Postal Workers Union voted for a two minute "period of silence" in support of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) . The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 214 in San Francisco also voted to support the ILWU stoppage with a two minute period of silence. The San Francisco Labor Council issued a resolution of support for the ILWU action and stated that it "encourages other unions to follow ILWU's call for a 'No Peace-No Work Holiday' or other labor actions on May Day, to express their opposition to the US wars and occupations in the Middle East".
It is incumbent to concretize political opposition to US foreign policy through the election of candidates that have demonstrated support for the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. A political party that does not attempt to re-define the debate is simply continuing to base the nation's priorities on a never-ending warfare state. The actions of the ILWU and the NY Metro Area Postal Workers represent direct action that can be taken in opposing the war. Voting for candidates like Cynthia McKinney represents political action that can be taken. Other policies at the state level should be sought to set up civilian conservation corps that responds to fires, natural disasters and emergencies. Without real change the "Hope" that is so bandied about by the Democrats and Republicans will be an illusion that disappears after election day.