Stand Firm ILWU for Ukraine

An Open Signed Letter

 

Back in March the International Longshore and Warehouse Union took a fine position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  Its Coast Committee called the attack “an act of aggression that endangers a population of more than 40 million people.”  In a press release the union stated that “Effective immediately, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, with some 20,000 workers strong in 29 ports up and down the United States West Coast, will refuse to load or unload any Russian vessels or Russian cargo coming into or going out of all West Coast ports from Bellingham, Washington, to San Diego, California.”

In taking this action the ILWU continued its tradition of standing up for justice.  In the past it shut down ports to oppose the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It took action against the government of apartheid-era South Africa and in support of Palestinian rights.  It wouldn’t load military cargo to the forces that overthrew the elected government of Chile.

But now a number of ILWU members want to overturn their union’s stand against aggression and punish the victims, the Ukrainian people.  In a statement published on October 3rd on the site Counterpunch they called for port actions “to refuse to handle military cargo by dockworkers around the world.”  This is plainly designed to stop the ability of Ukrainians to defend themselves against a Russian military which has an almost unlimited supply of weapons.

The reasoning behind this call is based on a completely skewed history of what has been going on in Eastern Europe.  Russia signed a treaty in 1994 to respect Ukraine’s borders, yet it has invaded Ukraine with the intent of ending the country’s independence and the Ukrainian identity.  The signers of the October 3 statement, however, claim the war was “provoked by U.S./NATO aggression”.   We have many positions about NATO, some quite negative, but we have to note that the alliance’s last significant expansion was in 2004.

Likewise the supposed list of facts about a “U.S.-driven Maidan coup” that burned down a union headquarters or about “two newly-founded republics” or a brigade that killed 15,000 people in Ukraine’s Donbas are misleading, distorted or completely false.

Working people in Ukraine are solidly behind defense of their country.  Their unions spoke out the day after Putin’s February invasion. They asked for “solidarity” the fight against “Russian Federation aggression.” In April the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine wrote a letter to union supporters in the UK.  After thanking them for support the Confederation explained, “Our brave medical workers save lives of civilians and soldiers.  Our railway and transport workers evacuate people from battle zones and carry cargo despite the shelling.” It also wrote, “Ukraine needs assistance, primarily military, financial and humanitarian aid.” 

 

We current, retired or former union members encourage the ILWU to reject this attempt to repeal its correct and powerful stand on Ukraine.

 

Initial Signers:

 

Amina S. Ali

National Writers Union *

 

Bill Balderston,

retired teacher; organizer with the Oakland Education Association *

 

Mark Baugher

Portland, Oregon USA

Former member, USWA Local 13 *

 

Andrew Berman,

former member Local 275, AFGE*

 

Robert Casanta

Association of Flight Attendants - CWA (retired) *

 

Emmett Doyle

Carpenters Union Local 68 *

 

Arthur Esparza, 

member Carpenters Local 30*

 

Ann Eveleth

anti-war activist

former member SEIU Local 500*

and South African Union of Journalists

 

Sam Friedman

National Writers Union* and two AFT locals

 

Bill Fletcher, Jr.

National Writers Union; AFGE *

 

Phil Gasper

Member AFT, Local 243 *

 

Brian T. Gibbons

Former Teamster member Local 495 LA and steward Local 392 CLE *

 

Dayne Goodwin

AFSCME Local 1004 in Salt Lake City* (retired)

 

Howard Hawkins

retired Teamster, Local 317, Syracuse, NY *

 

Stanley Heller

AFT West Haven, CT #1547 *

AFT New Haven (Retired) *

 

Scott Houldieson 

Union activist UAW Local 551 Chicago *

Resident Highland, Indiana.

 

Meghan Keane,

former PSC-CUNY member *

 

Patrick Kearney
(retired) Local 777, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters *

 

Kieran F. Knutson

President CWA Local 7250 *

 

Traven Leyshon,

president Green Mountain Labor council, *

district v-p VT AFL-CIO

 

Linda Mann 

National Association of Letter Carriers (Retired) Branch 9 *

 

Eric Maroney
Member and shop steward of AFT 1942*

 

Bradley L Mayer,

former member, United Steel Workers of America *

 

Chai Montgomery

Member and Steward Transport Workers Union Local 171*

Ann Arbor, Michigan

 

Steve Ongerth

IWW (Bay Area General Membership Branch) and IBU (San Francisco Bay Area Region, ILWU affiliate) *

Bay Area, California

 

Frank Panzarella

retired Former President of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers Local 1990 *

 

Maria Constanza Pedraza

Retired Teacher, former executive board member United Educators of San Francisco (UESF), former member Hayward Education Association (HEA) *

 

Charles Post

AFT 2334/PSC-CUNY *

 

John Reimann

Former recording secretary, Carpenters Union Local 713 *

Co-chair, Ukraine Socialist Solidarity Campaign

 

Jason Schulman

PSC-CUNY 2334

 

Rick Sprout

CSEA/ UUP (retired) *

New York State

 

David Turpin Jr.,

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 134, Substation Electrician *

 

Michael Santos

American Federation of Teachers Local 394*, Teacher 

 

Lois Weiner, Ed.D.

United Federation of Teachers (retired), AFT local 2

 

Sherry Wolf

Member, CWA 1032 *

 

Cheryl Zuur

former president AFSCME Local 444 *

 

Ted Zuur

former member of HERE Local 2, San Francisco *

 

 (*union name and locals are for identification only)

 

To add your name to this letter send an email to:    StandFirmForUkraine@gmail.com

 

For a frequently updating list of articles about Ukraine click here