On International Workers Day, a series of demonstrations that linked working-class struggles of the Bay Area with the need for international solidarity brought together hundreds of people in Oakland, Calif.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 10, hosted the morning action, rallying at the Howard Terminal, proposed site of the new baseball stadium for the Oakland Athletics.
The ILWU, which has a rich history of militant solidarity with Palestine, victims of police terror, the anti-apartheid struggle, and other progressive causes, demanded that the port remain a maritime facility providing good union jobs and serve as a source of tax revenue to help fund Oakland schools and services.
Keith Brown, president of the Oakland Education Association, reminded the crowd of the power of the labor struggle to win the demands of workers:
“In Oakland, we had hotel workers say one job should be enough, and they struck to win improvements in job security and work safety. We had nurses and mental-health workers go on strike to make sure that their patients got essential services. TSA workers in Oakland fought against Trump and said hell no to Trump for the government shutdown. And here in Oakland, the teachers, the educators of Oakland, went on strike for seven days for wins in lower class size, for wins in a living wage and increased student support, and we appreciate Local 10 having our back during that struggle. …
“We have an Oakland that can say yes to building new stadiums, but saying also that they need to close 24 schools in Black and Brown neighborhoods. We say hell no to that. It is unacceptable. We say public good over private gains. The teachers and the dock workers, we stand strong together and we say that Oakland is a union town!”
The opening rally was followed by a march on the Port of Oakland headquarters, continuing on towards Oscar Grant Plaza with stops along the way. Chanting marchers called for freedom for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal in front of the Oakland Police Department, and speakers highlighted international struggles.
Meghann Adams, a driver and union member of SMART 1741 (Sheet Metal Air Rail & Transportation), spoke for the ANSWER Coalition’s Hands Off Venezuela contingent, saying:
“We hear nothing of the truth from the U.S. government and the corporate media. Instead they feed us lies and half-truths. …
“They have let it seem legitimate for the opposition to try to take over the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, D.C., never informing us that this act is a violation of international law. They say that there is an economic crisis in Venezuela, but they never point out the devastation that the U.S. is responsible for due to the sanctions on Venezuelan oil and trade, sanctions which have prevented Venezuela from being able to buy medicine and other imports.
“According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, over 40,000 deaths have been linked to the sanctions since 2017, from people who are unable to receive their needed treatment (including diabetes and cancer patients). What the U.S. government and media never say is that the crisis is intentional. That they have a role is exacerbating it, because they want regime change. …
“As we stand here to fight for our jobs, our homes, our schools, it is imperative that we take a stand now, today. That we stand with the people of Venezuela who are fighting for their right to these same things.”
Another rally and march initiated by Oakland Sin Fronteras and a broad May Day coalition followed in the afternoon, finishing with a resource fair “to continue the historic struggle against economic and social inequity.”
Jamie Sarfeh of the Arab Resource & Organizing Center helped promote the event, saying:
“I’m marching on May Day to stand in opposition to U.S. military intervention, neoliberal policies and violence in the Arab world, Latin America, the Asia-Pacific and Africa, and also to stand in solidarity with migrants at our southern border, who are seeking asylum from conditions created by U.S. military and economic intervention in their countries of origin.”
Hundreds more rallied and marched in San José, Calif., on May Day. A contingent organized by Party for Socialism and Liberation carried signs demanding “U.S. Hands Off Venezuela.”
From Oakland to Venezuela to Palestine, the mass mobilizations of International Workers Day throughout the world remind us that the workers’ struggle has no borders! Long live international solidarity!