Organized Labor Begins to Take Anti-War Direct Action Stands

Some encouraging signs of anti-militarist direct action from organized labor:

South African port and truck workers are refusing to move weapons from a ship that docked in the country on its way to Zimbabwe, union officials said .

Meanwhile, in the U.S.:

In a major step for the U.S. labor movement, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has announced that it will shut down West Coast ports on , 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. This is the first time in decades that an American union has decided to undertake industrial action against a U.S. war.

More Tax Day Action reports:

  • NWTRCC has a good run-down of actions nationwide, including lots of photos.
  • A video of John and Pat Schwiebert’s appearance on Democracy Now is now up on YouTube.
  • Rev. Ellen W. Lankhorst of Milton, New Hampshire, announced her decision to resist taxes in the local paper. “In fear and trembling I have decided to make this illegal gesture in the hope that many more people will do likewise. When a lot of people dare to resist the use of their tax dollars, things will change.”

David O’Brien writes:

All three [U.S. presidential] candidates share one bedrock conviction: The war is not their fault, or ours. It is Bush’s fault, “Bush’s war.” Of course that’s a lie.

For five years we were embarrassed by looting, humiliated by greed and disgraced by torture, but we paid our taxes and most of us voted for the president in . When we turned to the Democrats in we were depressed but hardly surprised when they failed to end what we had come to call “Bush’s war.”

Now, with 4,000 Americans and vast, unknown numbers of Iraqis dead, few of us are doing very much except following another campaign in which only two things are clear: the war is not our fault and, while this and our other wars are not going very well, we do not know what to do. But that’s OK, because it’s not our fault, or our responsibility.

The problem of shared responsibility — these are our wars — cannot be named, for if it were we might have to do something.

On what that “something” is, O’Brien is a little timid and vague. Less so, Kathy Kelly:

[W]hat of our own culpability? What about our options for nonviolent resistance?

We do have options. We each can, at the very least, pressure our elected representative, through legal or extralegal lobbying, to vote against President Bush’s 102 billion dollar supplemental funding request which the U.S. House of Representatives will likely vote on the last week of and with the Senate following suit shortly thereafter.

Another option was pursued, this year, by the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Campaign’s “War Tax Boycott.” This project helped people eliminate at least a portion of war making from their personal budget.

Kelly concludes: “If you’re among those who are wearied and exasperated by the wrongfulness of this ongoing war, allow yourself some relief: don’t collaborate.”