by Cindy Domingo
In a show of worker power, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) will shut down all twenty-nine West Coast ports for eight hours on Friday, June 19 in celebration of Juneteenth, standing in solidarity against police violence and calling for an end to white supremacy. Juneteenth originated in Texas, where slaves were not freed until 1865, more than two years after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation was signed. It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of chattel slavery in the United States. The ILWU action follows on the heels of a June 9 action in which the East and West Coast longshore workers stopped working and took an eight-minute, forty-six second moment of silence to coincide with the funeral of George Floyd in Houston. The work stoppage was also to honor Breonna Taylor and all victims of police repression.
The Juneteenth action in Seattle will begin with a 9 a.m. rally and march from the ILWU Local 19 Hall at 3440 E Marginal Way S. Under the slogan of “Let’s turn this day of celebration of the emancipation of the slaves into a day of action against modern-day slavery!” The participants will march to the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) Day Reporting Center at 1550 4th Avenue South.
The DOC destination was chosen after inmates at work release facilities were retaliated against after demanding personal protection equipment and other safety measures to confront the COVID-19 pandemic. According to organizers, the march will highlight the fact that the rights of workers do not end merely because a worker is convicted of a crime and incarcerated. The ILWU’s flyer for the event, notes that Washington state is subject to international law, including of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — and cites Articles 3 through 6, which afford everyone the right to life, liberty and security of person; freedom from slavery or servitude; freedom from torture or to cruel, inhumane treatment and punishment; and recognition everywhere as a person before the law […]