WASHINGTON – The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 drill team from California led the peace march here Oct. 26. Traveling to the nation’s capital with heads held high, the Bay area men and women never skipped a beat as tens of thousands followed.

Right behind the drill team were Local 10 leaders, members and supporters who carried the union banner with the slogan the ILWU is famous for – “an injury to one is an injury to all.”

Clarence Thomas, Local 10 secretary-treasurer told the World that his local was proud to lead the largest peace demonstration yet because their International union, too, has been targeted by the Bush administration.

“Bush imposed Taft-Hartley against our union on the West Coast and here we are leading a march of 250,000 against him,” said Thomas

The Local 10 leader said the Bush administration has interfered from the beginning in the union’s negotiations. “Government and the employers – the Pacific Maritime Association – are using the ‘war on terrorism’ as a justification to weaken our union,” he said.

In his speech to the rally on the Capital Mall, Thomas blasted Bush for threatening use of military troops if the ILWU goes on strike. The massive crowd joined him in chants of “Hands off the docks! Stay out of Iraq!”

“No new war against Iraq, No blood for oil…..If there is a regime change in Iraq, let it be done by the Iraqi people!” shouted Thomas. “Our stand against this war is consistent with our progressive history. We refused to unload cargo in protest of apartheid in South Africa, … we shut down ports in support of protest against the WTO, and in 1999 in calling for freedom for Mumia Abu Jamal.”

Thomas told the World that “the war against Iraq is an extension of the War on Terrorism, a war which is also being waged against our people. The USA Patriot Act is being used to deny immigrants their rights, and to deny civil rights and civil liberties to all people. The Port Maritime Security Act will authorize intrusive criminal background checks and biometric ID cards for dockworkers,” emphasized Thomas. He pointed out that in U.S. history going too far included the internment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps and the unjust taking of their property.

Thomas recently returned from Paris where he addressed a peace rally. Many pointed out that the World Bank has promised to provide $300 billion in loans once the U.S. eradicates the government in Baghdad. “The World Bank sees the war as something which could enhance the world economy, but it would only benefit the giant multinational corporations,” said Thomas.

Bonnie Houston, a member of Local 10’s drill team told the World that she is angry that Joseph Miniace, CEO of the PMA, bemoans the dockworkers high wages while tkeeping silent on the huge profits of the shipping companies. “How much money does he make? Why doesn’t anyone ask him that?”she said.

Brother T. McCoy also a drill team member told the World they are happy to be in DC to send a message directly to Bush that he should stop trying to bust their union.

The author can be reached at evnalarcon@aol.com