Friday, December 09, 2011
On Monday, the first march to the Port of Oakland will start at 5:30am from the nearby West Oakland BART station, with subsequent afternoon marches to the port at 4:00pm and 5:00pm. In Long Beach, people will meet at Harry Bridges Park at 5:00am and march to the SSA Marine terminal. In Portland, people will congregate at Kelley Point Park for a 6:00am rally and 7:00am blockade. In Seattle, people will meet at Westlake Park at 1:00pm and march to the Port of Seattle. In San Diego, people will gather at Chicano Park at 6am for a march to the port. And these are just some of the planned actions.
In the Bay Area, the organizing efforts for the blockade have been extraordinary:
And, one of the consequences of this effort has been pressure within unions to respond to this radical current:
Shrugging off tent removal, tear gas and rubber bullets, Occupy Oakland has become the nucleus of coordination, holding inter-Occupy conference calls; brainstorming budgets to provide camps with everything from porta-potties to bullhorns; and using union networks to connect rank-and-file members with general assemblies on the West Coast.
Hundreds of Oakland citizens are leafletting commuter trains, staging rush-hour banner drops, reaching out to non-unionized workers, and sending out bilingual teams to ethnic boroughs to help populate the blockade. Other local organizations are independently working for the event. For example, the International Socialist Organization immediately began contacting branches in relevant cities while the East Bay Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice will be hosting a pre-march teach-in about the plight of longshoremen and port truckers.
No wonder Democratic mayors across the country have cracked down on Occupy Together. Effective organizing from the bottom up is the most serious threat to the Labor/Democratic Party/Corporate triumvirate in many years. For example, consider this effort by Occupy Oakland tomorrow in the impoverished neighborhood adjacent to the port:
Barucha says the democratization paradigm of the leaderless occupation movement is proving to be a model for workers unhappy with the status quo.
This is the first time there has been an exemplary movement that is encouraging and teaching people to self-organize. The occupation, she said, allows union members to act as individual community participants and create community pickets, alongside the unemployed, the non-unionized working class, the homeless and any other supportive neighbors that share the same material needs.
One Bay Area couple who belong to another big local union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, said they and some other grocers chose to organize after watching their contracts being written up behind closed doors. The couple, who asked not to be identified, said the UFCW leaders negotiated a pension concession that they could opt out of by accepting other concessions.
Of course, people have participated in such efforts for decades. The novelty lies in the number of people involved this time and the intensity of their motivation. For more information about the blockade, go here.
10:00 am-11:00am: Activists and community members from across West Oakland and beyond will gather in DeFremery park for outreach training about the Port Blockade Action.
11:00 am-1:00 pm: Groups will disperse from the park to engage Oakland community members in real conversation around why the West Coast Port Blockade is crucial to achieving solidarity with the working class who live next to and work in the Port of Oakland.