May 1: Longshore Union supports Black Lives Matter

Three young people with signs

On Friday, May 1, Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union went on strike to shut down the port of Oakland in solidarity with the activists of Black Lives Matter. ILWU members led a morning rally at the Port, a march through the residential neighborhoods of West Oakland, and a rally at the destination, Oakland City Hall. Several hundred people joined the ILWU at the morning rally. Many white radicals came, along with members of other local unions, community groups, such as the Oscar Grant Committee, loudly encouraging musicians, including the Brass Liberation Orchestra, and teenagers of all colors. Strangers helped one another carry unwieldy banners. Teachers at Martin Luther King Elementary School let children come out to the edge of the schoolyard to watch marchers, signs, and clarinetists pass by. At City Hall, Service Employees International Union members spoke alongside ILWU members. Every part of the event was peaceful and amicable.

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Fight for $15 and a Union

SEIU union members

Hundreds of women and men earning low wages as home health care workers, janitors, fast-food restaurant workers, and, surprising to me, adjunct professors at the University of California in Berkeley rallied and marched in downtown Berkeley on Wednesday, April 15. The motto: Fight for $15 on April 15. The destination: the McDonald’s restaurant on Shattuck Street and University Avenue.

It was brilliantly sunny and warm. Scores of Service Employees International Union workers marched in purple t-shirts. Many had ridden buses down from Sacramento. United Farm Workers members wore their red t-shirts and waved their red-and-black eagle flags. Members of the Communications Workers of America told me that many people who work in the news rooms of major newspapers now earn less than $15 an hour. These workers aren’t employees of the newspaper any more. Instead, a sub-contractor employs them. That means low pay, no benefits, and no say in how things are done.

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Stop Murder by Police

Banner listing 44 people killed without justification by police officers

I participated in the “Stop Murder by Police” demonstration in San Francisco on Tuesday, April 14. People demonstrated in many cities nationwide on Tuesday in a coordinated effort to stop American police officers’ unjustified violence against our black and Latino neighbors and family members.

Our rally began at Mission Street and 24th Street, in the center of the Mission District. We were about 300 people. Most were local high school and college students. The stated goal of the demonstration was to shut down parts of the city to encourage San Franciscans to pay attention to the frequent murders that reporters for major news outlets have only recently begun to cover.

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