November 4 Message
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(Union News "Daily DORO CHIBA" No.64xx,)(Japanes)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
ILWU Local 10 is locked in a serious struggle against not only maritime employers but the capitalist government which stands behind them. While the Bush administration pushes its “war on terror” with the support of the Democrats, the vise of government repression is tightened on American workers as U.S. imperialism prepares to attack yet another country in the Middle East, Iran.
Recently two longshore workers, members of our union were beaten, maced and arrested by police in the port of Sacramento at the terminal of Stevedore Services of America. SSA is the same war profiteering company at which one of our brothers was killed last month in the port of Oakland in an industrial accident and the same company at which protesters and longshoremen were shot by police at the start of the war. These brothers, Jason Ruffin and Aaron Harrison, did nothing but question the authority of port security guards to inspect their vehicle upon returning to work after lunch. These new laws of Homeland Security and Maritime Security are loaded guns aimed at port workers. Our brothers will go to court for a hearing on November 13. If the government is intent on bringing them to trial despite our demands that they drop the bogus charge of resisting arrest, then ILWU will organize a massive defense of our brothers calling on the labor movement in the U.S. and internationally to defend these victims of government terror. ILWU’s defense campaign will be the first protest organized by workers against the “war on terror”.
As we decided at our October 20 Labor Conference to Stop the War, unions must take the struggle against these bloody wars in the Middle East from protest to resistance by organizing workers’ actions at the point of production. As the Doro-Chiba representative at the conference, Shimizu-san pointed out Japanese teachers are engaged in a similar struggle against the resurgence of Japanese imperialism, refusing to bow to kimigayo and hinomaru. These acts by Japanese teachers is in the best tradition of the international working class against imperialist war and for peace. As the militant German workers’ leaders Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Leibknecht implored during World War I against militarism and patriotism, “ The main enemy is at home!”
Only through linking our struggles against government repression can workers of the world defeat our common oppressors. An injury to one is an injury to all!
Victory to the Japanese teachers!
I come here today to thank you, thank you for your past and current support for workers rights everywhere and to commend Doro-Chiba for taking the struggle for workers rights around the world.
I commend you and especially the teachers for standing tall against the government and the Abe Administration.
I'm immensely proud of you and emboldened by your actions and your sacrifices for what is right.
It is insanity to continue the destruction of workers lives only to gain a profit and but loose our humanity yet that is what we are fighting against everyday.
Governments and laws created by the people to protect and provide fairness in the daily lives of its peoples have been subverted and become the servants to corporations and it's never ending pursuit of greed at all costs.
I continued to live in outrage at the oppression of my brothers and sister of the KTCU in Korea, the ILWU in the USA to the RMT in Great Britain the level of violence against labor unions who's only crime is to seek justice and the end of poverty.
Governments and Corporations pitting worker against worker driving down living conditions and wages by exploiting temporary or irregular workers.
In my country, my government has declared war on workers through the false claim of War on Terror.
They have even tried to accuse the labor movement of being a threat to national security. I 'am deeply ashamed of the leaders in my country for creating war, terror, torture and conflict where there was none.
I have struggles at my home and work but I' am humbled by the struggles that you and my other brothers and sisters have taken on, for this I thank you.
I conclude my remarks with a quote by one of my heroes, Cesar Chavez, who was a Mexican American farm worker picking grapes and lettuce in California, back breaking work, he became a labor leader, and civil rights activist, and co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers Union. I came to know him while growing up and working in the farmlands but his quote is still the essence of what we are about today, he said: "The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people."
On behalf of AMFA National, we would like to thank our Brothers and Sisters from Doro-Chiba for being very gracious hosts. But more importantly, we thank them for promoting solidarity around the world by hosting the National Workers Rally! Workers around the world are learning more about solidarity because of Doro-Chiba. AMFA is honored to attend the National Workers Rally to help build solidarity around the world. We are humbled to be included with the strong, fighting KTCU, ILWU, UTLA and of course the Doro-Chiba. Our struggle is your struggle and by coming together, we will overcome corporate greed and government corruption!
Last year at this rally, AMFA was on strike against Northwest Airlines. AMFA was the smallest union at Northwest, but also the only one that stood up against 26% pay cuts and 53% job cuts. Northwest had convinced the other unions to sign off on the huge cuts to their membership and not honor our picket lines. Northwest had also enlisted the Minnesota and United States administrations to help them defeat us. Our 4400 members stood on the picket line for 444 days against what some compared to a fight between men and giants. Northwest admitted they had spent over $140 million before the strike reached its one year milestone. The AMFA Locals had spent only $1 million because money does not buy integrity.
We settled the strike and all lost our jobs. But we ensured the most senior union members are given jobs as they become open. Once again the union will take care of its own; especially those that traveled the rough roads of past strikes before. Today, the honorable men and women who gave up their jobs instead of giving in to the corporate greed of the millionaires at Northwest Airlines are united as the Honorable 444 Brotherhood. They are strong, proud and have more integrity than any company or government official can imagine. We truly know that an injury to one is an injury to all!
Our pledge to you is that AMFA will never cross a picket line anywhere in the world. We will offer our assistance in fighting corporate greed and government corruption wherever and whenever we can. Thanks to the solidarity of Doro-Chiba, KTCU, ILWU, UTLA and AMFA. “The Unity of Workers Beyond Borders Will Change the World”!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We stand in solidarity with your mass labor rally against war, repression and privatization. This international workers rally in Tokyo is an important statement that workers around the world have the same interests and need to unite in action against war, repression and all attacks on working people.
In the United States, the so called “fight against terrorism” has led to the round up of hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers, the beatings of two ILWU members at the Port of Sacramento and the use of “Homeland Security Police” (ICE) to harass union workers in San Francisco and in many parts of the United States.
At our rally on October 20, 2007 in San Francisco which the brothers of Doro-Chiba participated in, we continued the process of building an international fightback against imperialism.
It is critical that we build an international linkage of unions around the world who are prepared to act not only with words but in action to halt these criminal wars around the world. Only the world working class has the power to put an end to these imperial adventures and genocidal war crimes.
The US government with the support of the both the Republicans and Democrats continues to get hundreds of billions of dollars for these criminal wars from Iraq and Afghanistan.
This happens at the same time that 47 million US workers have no healthcare and union busting is endemic with 20,000 workers fired every year for trying to form unions. Millions of US workers may also lose their homes as a result of deregulation and the speculative business frenzy to make more profits.
A key task of our work is to fight against business unionism and the labor management partnerships pushed by many unions in the US. The idea that corporate unionism will defend the labor movement is extremely dangerous. The recent settlement of the UAW tops to implement a two tier wage system, eliminated defined pensions and allow the management a free hand to pit worker against worker will only weaken the trade union movement.
We join with you today to take a stand for principles and for real workers solidarity. We protest the attack on Japanese anti-war teachers and also the destructive attacks on our brothers and sisters in Korea who are being sued personally for supporting strike actions to defend their unions.
Let us unite and continue our collaboration and solidarity for workers rights and workers power in every country of the world.
Thank you Doro-Chiba for carrying on the struggle against the injustices put upon the teachers and working people of Japan, Korea, and the United States! The greed of corporations is insatiable! And the desire of the government to control the thinking of its citizens untenable!
In late summer 1999 the Japanese House of Representatives and the House of Councilors passed the "Law Concerning the National Flag and Anthem" which states that the Hinomaru is the national flag and the Kimigayo is the national anthem. Earlier that summer at a graduation in Hiroshima Prefecture several teachers refused to participate in raising of the Hinomaru and the singing of the Kimigayo, which resulted in the passage of this law.
If Japan is a democratic country isn't a national anthem praising a monarch inappropriate and isn't forced participation in singing the anthem against democratic ideals? The teachers in Hiroshima Prefecture were exercising their democratic liberties.
In 2006 a retired teacher in Tokyo was fined 200,000 yen ($2,000 USD) for urging attendees to remain seated during the playing of the anthem. Since 2003 several hundred teachers have been punished for refusing to take part in anthem related events.
Many rank and file members of the Japan Teachers' Union have chosen to struggle against these injustices.
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, KCTU, have kept us all alerted to the bad way companies treat their workers.
In South Korea the injustices against all workers including the non-regular workers, who work for the Eland Group resulted in a strike in June 2007 where members of the NewCore-Eland Union held back their labor. And on October 1, 2007, the NewCore-Eland Union staged a lock-in at the Korean Secretary of Labor Office in the Seoul Regional Labor Department. These are large strikes and protests have resulted in police attacks! Write to ROH MOO-HYUN, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH KOREA and tell him of your concerns.
Thank you KCTU for keeping the world informed of the labor struggles within Korea!
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union based on the West Coast of the US, Hawaii, Alaska and Canada also has struggles against the companies and the government. After September 11, 2001 the US Government hastily passed the Patriot Act, October 2001 and renewed March 2006 and passed the Homeland Security Act in November 2002 as well as passed the Maritime Transportation Security Act also in November 2002. It is my opinion while under the guise of "national security" many of the provisions of these laws are aimed against the citizens of the US. Especially against the working, the poor and the ethnic people, essentially the powerless.
As a result of these laws stevedores will now have to carry the electronic shackles of the Transport Workers Identification Card, TWIC card. Currently, the Transport Safety Administration is testing these shackles at the Port of Wilmington, Delaware, USA. In a few weeks it is scheduled to be tested at the Port of Oakland. There has never been an instance of any stevedore, truck driver or manager committing an act of sabotage at any port in the US and I'd dare say the world! Evil bomb, shoot and kill civilians for political or financial motives!
In August two longshoremen at the Port of Sacramento, California returned from lunch after working all morning for Stevedoring Services of America to be confronted by the private security. They complied with requests by presenting their company and state issued identification cards. The private security asked to search their car and these men, well within their civil rights, asked to see the law saying that security had a right to do so. Instead of showing the workers the regulations, the private security called the city police and had the workers arrested! Currently, it is not against the law to ask questions in the US, so the city police chose to arrest the workers for trespassing and resisting arrest! These men worked there all morning long! In Sacramento, the state capital of California, the government tries to control and intimidate workers, who exercise their civil rights, by arresting them with false charges!
And last month, an inexperienced casual worker was killed while working unsupervised on a ship also run by Stevedoring Services of America. There are good safety rules developed throughout the decades by a labor-management safety team. These rules are have prevented countless accidents and deaths, but just a few weeks ago there was a failure and a family no longer has a father.
We the working class are in for many struggles! Next year the Longshore Division of the ILWU will negotiate its contract for the entire west coast of the United States. With national and international labor solidarity, we will be victorious!
It is up to us, individually and collectively, to fight for what is right. To fight for our civil rights and not to give them away because the government tells us of some sort of "evil threat" exists out there. Our countries, Japan, Korea and the US have enlightened constitutions, which are based on democracy, not totalitarianism. We must continue to protect our rights and not let our governments destroy our constitutions! We must continue to build worker solidarity within our communities, within our countries and throughout our world! We have the resources to make this a great world to live in for everyone of us and it is up to the working class to help bring about this vision!
Russell K. Miyashiro
I am very proud to be here with you today. I am proud that I, as a Japanese American woman, can be in solidarity with you- not only because of my ethnic heritage, but also because of our actions for peace and justice that unite us. Being here in Japan brings me back to my familial roots, my father’s family came from Fukuoka, and my mother’s family is from Okayama. My Grandparents came to the US nearly 100 years ago, in their 20’s for a better life, and economically they did well. But they also experienced the intense anti-Japanese hatred during World War II and were put into the concentration camps in California. My childhood was shaped by being minorities in a white dominate culture, making me feel less and inferior. In a similar way, I feel that many nations including Japan follow Bush as a puppy dog. But you are being used for your economic and military bases. The Bush administration does not have your interests in mind, anymore than ours. Our youth of color in America suffer under a war budget which spends a majority for war, while millions of children in the richest nation of the world are without food, shelter and health care. More black and brown youth are in prison than in our colleges and universities. And three times more money goes into recruiting our youth for war, than we are willing to pay for their public education.
Our connection also stems from both being from nations that have brutally and aggressively colonized and killed millions of people. My friends, remain strong in your fight for truth, and as you address those who tell you what to teach and how to teach it. The youth need to hear the truth about Japan’s past, to make amends, in order that you can move forward into the future.
How did I become a teacher activist to stop the militarism in the schools? For as long as I can remember I have been aware of injustice and oppression, and I have wanted to make a difference in this world. But it was more than knowledge that spurred me to action; it was embracing who I am and having a conviction that I have a moral and human responsibility to do what is right. I feel that action is urgent, and will determine the future of our planet.
As a Speech and Language Specialist, who helps students with speech disorders, I was assigned to a high school ten years ago in a working poor community of Los Angeles that is 98% Latino. It was here that I was horrified and shocked to see the pervasiveness of military recruitment in our schools. . Military recruiters walked around the school in uniform talking to students, and walking them home. Huge army vans came to career fairs; military advertising was on the school walls- posters, calendars and literature everywhere. This is part of the 4 billion dollars that goes into military advertisement. Militarism is embedded and part of the educational system in the United States. We have JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) programs in our high schools which are actual military classes but marketed as “citizenship and leadership”; the No Child Left Behind Act that force schools to give the privacy contact information to military recruiters unless there is prior written consent; and most importantly a culture that values power and domination as seen through our toys- our GI dolls, guns, bazookas, and bombed doll houses.
I learned that all schools are not equal when it comes to military recruitment. We call it a “poverty draft”. The Pentagon has specifically identified Latinos as the group to increase enlistments, largely because they are a growing proportion of our young and most likely enlist out of economic need and the desire to be valued as “American.” I am outraged that military recruiters go into some of our working poor schools every day, while they go into the rich wealthy schools such as Beverly Hills only once a year. And Los Angeles, which has the second largest school district in the nation, has dramatically shifted over the years from predominately white, to now a majority Latino-73%, with 11% African American, 6% Asian Pacific and only 9% white. It has the highest recruitment of high school students in the nation.
It was after Bush declared war on Iraq, that I passionately began calling upon others to join me. I went to the teachers union, grassroots organizations, and veterans for peace, and we formed a large coalition of students, teachers, parents, and community working to stop the militarism in our schools and provide alternatives. I organized a workshop through a Human Rights Committee at our local union that discussed the links between the war at home (with the education, health and social service cuts) to the war abroad. At the same time we went to the Board of Education meeting, opening the way to address military recruitment abuses and the need for constraints since we cannot by law keep military recruiters out of schools.
We have an Adopt a School program in the Los Angeles area including 50 schools where we specifically identify a point person to develop strategies to counter the military and we fundraise to provide the resources and materials necessary for this work. We take actions such as leafleting students on their way into school, provide alternative textbooks and curriculum such as Addicted to War, and Great Jobs and Great Futures for alternative careers and have school wide assemblies with veterans. In addition to our work in Los Angeles, we are connected to a national network of over 70 organizations across the U.S. and exchange strategies, victories and are united in campaigns.
As teachers, we are also strongly opposed to the privatization of public education through vouchers, charter schools and the No Child Left Behind Act. Corporations such as the textbook, testing and tutoring companies who receive billions in private contracts must not benefit off the backs of our children, while blaming teachers for a lack of academic achievement.
Since Bush took office, those of us in the United States have experienced the systematic crumbling of our civil liberties, union busting, tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation and privatization. The Bush administration has disregarded international laws and the citizens of the United States are horrified by the torture, killing and maiming done in our name to millions of innocent civilians. But the American people continue to resist. It is not in the media but millions take to the streets, we organize in our schools, and vote out those leaders who do not represent us. In Los Angeles, which is the multicultural capital of the world, we work together across ethnic and community lines and see our struggle as united and universal.
After World War II, Japan has been a leader in the world community for peace. Your article 9 is the hope for a world without war, and a sustainable future. The American people are with you. We thank you for your courage and leadership to resist the militarization of Japan through Hiromaru and Kimigayo.
We join you in saying, “Never Send Our Students to the Battlefields Again.”
Arlene G. Inouye
DORO-CHIBA (DC): National Railway Motive Power Union of CHIBA