In the recent contract battle, ILWU leaders sabotaged a golden opportunity to fight to turn things around for the union and the working class as a whole. They first pledged not to strike and then halted job actions and pushed a contract bribe that let the bosses and Biden off the hook. Many Local 10 members rightly rejected the deal, which Willie Adams and the PMA celebrated at the White House.
For those longshore workers who want to fight, the task is to prepare for the battles to come—especially now that the ILWU has filed for bankruptcy and its very existence is under threat. What is urgently necessary is to build a caucus based on a program explicitly opposing the losing strategy of the bureaucracy, which supports Biden at the expense of the interests of the working class. One candidate in the upcoming Local 10 elections—Emily Turnbull—is putting forward just such a program. Her platform points a way forward not only for the ILWU but for all of labor:
“The ILWU should:
- Not have signed the contract and fought for better.
- Oppose tiers—bring Bs and Casuals into full union membership and steady men back to the hall—and fight for a shorter workweek with no loss in pay.
- Fight for Black Liberation.
- Oppose U.S. military operations, whether involving Ukraine, Israel or China.
- Oppose the Democrats and the Republicans.
- Build a workers party that aims to put working people in charge of the U.S. from top to bottom.”