This Thursday, is May Day. Let's Remember the Fallen Warriors and Our Fallen Brothers and Sisters  

On May 1st, I will buy no products, travel nowhere, pay for no services, nor will I work. For 8 hours. On May 1st, I’ll remember the more than 4,000 American soldiers who have fallen, the countless thousands who have come home without legs, arms, eyes or the ability to walk. I will remember those now in mental hospitals and all those now living on the streets, still at war in their heads. I will remember all the innocent lives lost in Iraq, children, elderly, mothers, fathers, and I will keep in mind that we can change it all this November.

I’m planning to support the International Longshore and Warehouse Union by not working the day shift on May 1st.


To honor all those workers who have died in work related accidents this year and also to support the ILWU protest AGAINST the IRAQ WAR

Let’s start with the ILWU protest:

Longshore Caucus calls for Iraq war protest at ports on May 1

Nearly one hundred Longshore Caucus delegates voted on February 8 to support a resolution calling for an eight-hour "stop-work" meeting during the day-shift on Thursday, May 1 at ports in CA, OR and WA to protest the war by calling for the immediate, safe return of U.S. troops from Iraq.

“The Caucus has spoken on this important issue and I’ve notified the employers about our plans for 'stop work' meetings on May 1,” said ILWU International President Bob McEllrath.

Caucus delegates, including several military veterans, spoke passionately about the importance of supporting the troops by bringing them home safely and ending the War in Iraq. Concerns were also raised about the growing cost of the war that has threatened funding for domestic needs, including education and healthcare. Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard economist Linda J. Bilmes recently estimated that the true cost of the War in Iraq to American taxpayers will exceed 3 trillion dollars--a figure they describe as "conservative."

The union’s International Executive Board recently endorsed Barack Obama, citing his opposition to the War in Iraq as one of the key factors in the union's decision-making process.

The ILWU was one (but not the first) of the first unions to integrate, having done so in 1936. Both black and white gangs (work crews) worked alongside each other on the docks and held together during the strike of 1936. Integrating the union meant that when they had to strike, owners and bosses couldn’t race bate the workers, a management practice still in use today (check out Smithfield justice for more on this).

My point here about the ILWU is that it is a very progressive union. They do things democratically; including this action on the Iraq war, in fact, they even say as much:

Caucus delegates are democratically elected representatives from every longshore local who set policy for the Longshore Division.

And in support of the actions taken by the caucus,

ILWU International President Robert McEllrath has written letters to President John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO and President Andy Stern of the Change-to-Win Coalition, and to the presidents of the International Transport Workers Federation and the International Dockworkers Council to inform them of the ILWU's plans for May 1.

But this day of Remembrance is not only for those who’ve fallen in this war, but also all those workers who’ve lost their lives in the past 12 months. Since yesterday was the Day of Mourning, it seems fitting to remember just a very small sampling of people who’ve given their lives to their jobs. From the Weekly Toll:

Employer Shoots Employee in KingsportJohnson City,TN -
An Elizabethton man died over the weekend after police say he was shot by his boss. The Sullivan County Sheriff's Department received a call around 9 pm Friday night on a shooting at Kingsport Transfer on Moreland Drive. Investigators say the owner, Samuel Ireson and employee James Guinn were arguing when Ireson shot Guinn in the chest. Guinn was taken to Holston Valley Hospital and died Saturday morning. Investigators say Ireson was released to allow time to determine exactly what led up to the shooting.

Report explains death at Greenheck Fan Wausau, WI —
A man who died Saturday while working on a machine at Greenheck Fan Corp. in Schofield made a similar repair on the same machine a week earlier, a co-worker told police. Michael Damask, 42, of Hatley, died of compression asphyxia or suffocation, Marathon County Medical Examiner John Larson said this afternoon. Damask was killed when part of a hydraulic press dropped on him while he was changing a bearing, Larson said Larson determined the cause of death after conducting an autopsy this morning. The weight of the machine on his body prevented him from breathing or calling for help, Larson said. Damask was employed by Greenheck for approximately two years and worked nine months in the maintenance department. Damask is married and has three children.

Window washer falls to death at American Indian museum
WASHINGTON — A window washer at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian has fallen at least 50 feet to his death. D.C. Fire Department spokesman Alan Etter says rescuers were called to the museum on the National Mall about 10 a.m. Thursday. It's not clear whether the man's safety harness failed or whether it had been engaged properly when he started work. Authorities have not been able to identify the man. Etter says he appeared to be in his early 30s and worked for a contractor hired by the Smithsonian. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.

Bartender killed after asking man for ID Sunrise Beach, MO - The Gossip Inn is a neighborhood corner bar. "A family tradition since 1938," says the sign out front. But the small tavern in Kansas City, Kan., had a firm rule posted prominently behind the bar: Nobody gets served a drink without showing an ID. Bartender Lori Reynolds stood fast by that rule about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, and it cost Reynolds her life. A man upset when Reynolds said she couldn't serve him without seeing his ID opened fire, striking her multiple times and spraying six to eight more rounds through the bar. No one else was reported injured. The man fled the bar and was still at large Saturday evening. Reynolds died at a hospital. "She did her job. That's all she was trying to do -- her job," said bar owner Laura Maude. Maude said Reynolds, 44, was a good bartender, liked

El Paso CBP officer dies in crash near Moriarty WASHINGTON -
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air Interdiction Agent (Pilot Trainee) died while performing training as a result of an aircraft crash that occurred Monday at approximately 12:40 p.m. EDT at Moriarty Airport, near Albuquerque, N.M. The Air Interdiction Officer who died in the crash is Julio E. Baray. He is survived by his wife and two children. "Today, the Customs and Border Protection family mourns the loss of Officer Julio Baray," said Michael Kostlenik, Assistant Commissioner, CBP Office of Air and Marine. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

Lorain worker crushed to death LORAIN, OH — An employee of Brush Wellman Engineered Products was crushed to death Sunday night in a casting machine. Matthew Salisbury, 30, of Day Drive in Lorain, was pronounced dead at the scene following the accident, which occurred at about 10:50 p.m., said county Coroner Paul Matus. “He died as a result of acute trauma,” Matus said. “His injuries were obvious and fatal.” The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Toledo office is investigating the accident. “He was inside a machine and got pinned,” said Dick Tracy, the agency’s assistant area director. He said it was too early to say how the accident occurred. Salisbury’s wife, Jennifer Salisbury, said a co-worker told her he saw the whole thing. “The machine was broke down — it was clogged — and he was trying to unclog it,” she said.

So, I’m asking again, do you know what you’re doing on Thursday, May 1st?

crossposted on Women, Unions and Our Stories


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