Report from Labor for Peace and Justice (Bay Area)
Labor Marches 1,000-Strong in San Francisco Peace Demo
Capping several weeks of intensive outreach and organizing by members of the Labor Committee for Peace and Justice (LC4PJ) and U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) in the Bay Area, more than one thousand union members and their families formed an impressive labor contingent in the “World Says No to War” march and rally in San Francisco on Sunday, February 1.
(Photos of the Bay Area labor contingent, taken by USLAW’s web designer Sam McAfee, may be viewed at http://radicalfusion.org/uslaw/feb16march/)
Union members and their families assembled three blocks away from the main march route (Market Street from the Bay to Civic Center) where a premarch labor rally was held after the well-organized labor contingent had gathered. The rally was led off by members of the Freedom Song Network, who put everyone in great spirits. Members turned out from ILWU, SEIU, AFSCME, CSEA/SEIU, Plumbers, IBEW, Sheetmetal Workers and other building trades locals, AFT, Sign & Display/Painters, Operating Engineers, OPEIU, Writers Union/UAW, Coalition of University Employees, TNG/CWA, Media Workers, Treasury Employees, AFGE, IAM, APWU, Labor for Mumia, GCIU, CWA, UESF, NALC, Oakland Education Association, California Nurses Association, IFPTE, Teamsters, and others.
Walter Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer of the SF Labor Council, and Robert Dhondrup, representing the Alameda County Central Labor Council, greeted the rally. Tom Rankin, President of the California Federation of Labor, marched with the contingent, which was led by the ILWU Drill Team and banner and a large Labor Against the War banner held high on poles.
By the time the labor contingent reached it, Market St. was already filled with a hundred thousand or more demonstrators, who had already begun to march to the Civic Center. As the contingent approached, the crowd broke into a roar of cheers and applause. All along the route people cheered on the contingent as it proceeded slowly over the course of the mile and a half to the Civic Center. The Drill Team and some capable chant leaders kept everyone entertained during the two hours it took to traverse the short route, which was jammed with demonstrators.
By the time the contingent entered it, the Civic Center was filled with a sea of people of all ages and ethnicities. The Labor Committee for Peace & Justice had its own information booth, from which we distributed literature, sold buttons, and collected names from interested demonstrators, many of whom were union members who had not known about the contingent or who had marched with others.
Among the speakers who addressed the crowd, estimated at 250,000 to 300,000, was Trent Willis, Business Agent for ILWU Local 10 and Northern California Continuations Committee member of USLAW. Other labor speakers included Sal Rosselli, President of the 80,000-member SEIU Local 250 (Health Care Workers), Walter Johnson, and Howard Wallace, representing Pride at Work (also a member of LC4PJ). One of the most powerful speeches of the day was given by Jeremy Corbyn, British Labour Party Member of Parliament, who flew directly from the giant rally held in London on Saturday (attended by over a million people) to address the San Francisco rally.
Brother Corbyn was also the guest of the San Francisco Labor Council at a breakfast meeting for members of the labor community held Monday morning and cohosted by ILWU Local 10, LC4PJ, and USLAW. It was attended by 75-100 local union leaders and activists, among whom was Chuck Mack, Secretary-Treasurer of the influential Teamsters Local 70 and President of Teamsters Joint Council 7. Brother Mack spoke passionately against the Bush Administration’s reckless and aggressive conduct toward Iraq and the criminal threat of preemptive use of nuclear weapons. He reported that he expected his local to act on an antiwar resolution within the next couple of weeks.
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