The Theory of Dockworker Courage in a Crisis

May 2, 2008

Dockworkers Protest Iraq War



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.”
Yeah, I know, that’s old news now, a full three days after the work stoppage actually occurred and two full days after America lost interest. But I have a suggestion.
If those same 25,000 glorious dock workers could be enticed to take two consecutive weekends off–at their own expense–they might actually affect an end to the war in Iraq. Here’s the plan;
A couple weekends from now, all 29,000 show up at Nancy Pelosi’s door in San Francisco and tell the jittery and ineffective Nancy We’re supporting the troops and telling politicians in Washington that it’s time to end the war in Iraq.”
The idea is that they show up on Saturday, a day when the feckless leader of the feckless Democratic majority in the House of Representatives is likely to be in her home town squeezing additional bucks out of whatever supporters she has left. Trust me, the national press will notice.
Just in case they don’t, after a little brie and white wine, those heavily muscled crane and fork-lift operators can bunk with some local ILWU members for the night and show up again Sunday. “Time for talk is over, Nancy. Too many kids are dying and they’re not your kids, not Cheney’s kids, not George’s or Donald’s kids and we’re sick to death of death. End it, Nancy. Now!”
The following weekend is tougher, because Harry Reid’s office is a little further from the waterfronts of California. But after San Fran, there’ll probably be a lot of people in the Reno area to put you up. Reno’s the target office, because it’s a little easier to keep your focus than Las Vegas. But it’s your choice. Party and gamble if you will.
Reno on Saturday. Reno again on Sunday.
After all, politics in America is becoming more and more of a gamble and, at least in Iraq, it seems the dice are loaded. Harry, all by himself, could put a Senatorial stop on Iraq war funding.
All by himself.
You women and men of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union are, so far, the only viable and willing force to put yourselves between Washington and the disaster they have contrived in Iraq. No other group dares to put themselves in harm’s way.
You people are the hope of the nation. Possibly, just possibly, you might change the temperature of the fire, that fire we keep threatening and failing to hold administration feet to. Pelosi, Reid, Waxman, Hoyer, Rangel and Conyers won’t do it
You people can do it. The only question is, will you or is a two-day sound bite enough?

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