Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dockers Honor Anti-Israel Picket at Oakland Port

Longshoremen at the Port of Oakland returned to work a Zim Lines containership Monday morning, a day after the dockers chose to honor a labor and community picket of the terminal. The picket, which was estimated by local law enforcement to comprise close to 500 people at one point Sunday, was called by organizers to protest last month's Israeli raid of a ship bringing supplies to Gaza that left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.

The Mercury News reports several hundred people had gathered at the Oakland port about 5:30 a.m. at berths 57, 58 and 59, which is operated by SSA Terminals. An Israeli Zim Lines ship was expected to arrive in the morning, but didn’t, so the crowd stayed until the afternoon, preventing workers from unloading a ship from China, according to SSA officials.

Dockers showing up for the day shift on Sunday at the Oakland International Container Terminal refused to cross the picket line and the terminal did not order an evening shift.

Officials from the ANSWER Coalition, one of the groups that organized the protest, said that the goal of the protest was to prevent the unloading of the Zim vessel for 24 hours.

Protesters blocking the terminal entrance waved anti-Israeli signs as well as Palestinian and Turkish flags. The protest organizers also called for a boycott of Israeli goods and an end to American aid to Israel. No arrests were made, according to Oakland law enforcement officials.

On Monday morning, International Longshore and Warehouse Union officials confirmed that ordered day-shift dockers showed up to the terminal at 8 a.m. and began working the Zim vessel.