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(en) US, South California Anarchist Federation (SCAF) with IWW and the harbor truckers at the Labor Day march

Date Tue, 13 Sep 2005 08:54:10 +0300

Families with happy faces are bathing in a sea of american flags,
proudly holding their union's banner and some signs, most of them
telling us "Teachers are the real action heroes" and "Nurses are the
real action heroes" (we loved these signs!). The longshoremen called
and ca. 4000 demonstrators of at least 15 unions came to this years
Labor Day march in Wilmington, Los Angeles' heavy industry area.
Among them our little black contingent.
"Very american", I thought, when I saw the country flags
everywhere - the US is indeed a unique country. But then we have to
understand: The people are here to celebrate Labor Day, not
Mayday like the rest of the world, and, as IWW pointed out "Labor
Day is older than Mayday" ("in the US", I completed). Very
american are also the oldtimers, the Harley Davidsons, the heavy
trucks and the military cross country vehicle, which demonstrated
along with the teachers', nurses', longshoremen's, teamsters',
domestic workers', firefighters', librarians' etc. unions.

And IWW, together with the troqueros, taxi drivers and us, SCAF
(Southern California Anarchist Federation). To be accurate: We
were not officially there, as we didn't have the time to discuss the
open questions of our Labor Day support and to be officially
registered; nevertheless our dozen members outnumbered the four
IWW members. This was also the first time we, especially our
labor collective, met with the truckers, the troqueros, and their
allies, the taxi drivers, so there were still misunderstandings as to
who and what we are. As soon as we arrived, a taxi driver
approached me and listed all the problems they had in common with
the troqueros, like tickets, gas prices, uniforms, certified vehicles
etc. in great detail, when I still was figuring out, who the troqueros
and the taxi drivers were and all questions about their alliance.

Obviously the man wasn't informed on the details about SCAF either
(for instance that we have a labor collective, but also others like the
women's collective, of which I'm a member), so he finally asked for
our leader and again dropped a brick; I showed him a member of the
labor collective, the Si Se Puede-collective by highlighting, that as
anarchists we don't have a head. The troqueros in contrast are very
aware, what our black and red/black flags meant and most of them
are members of IWW - the "other union" (la otra union) as they call
it. "We are not politicians, business unionists, but only real workers,
nothing more and nothing less", they stated when explaining, that
they don't want to sell out to the "pimps" of the other unions and
organize themselves.

This stance obviously doesn't please the other unions and so before
we began marching two "teamsters" from the union of
transportation, co-sponsors of the march, asked again me, member
of the Mujeres Libres, no formal representative of our chapter or
particular supporter of this march, if we had a permission to march.
"We are with the IWW", I answered, which they didn't understand,
as they seemed never to have heard of such a union (the troqueros
were also with IWW, as the organizers of the march failed to return
their request for marching). But before the increasing vocal
animosities could develop, the teamsters took flight - anyway we
would have marched, with or without their approval, and they kind
of knew it. And we didn't disturb their party anyway, being at the
very end of everything, squeezed between enormous trucks.

The start was imminent and we only had to overcome a last
obstacle: For some reason the police wanted to have a chat with us
and for some reason our people let themselves get involved.
Fortunately our women strongly recommended to ignore them (que
vivan las mujeres!), so they eventually drove away. The way was free
for marching and we put together some chants, not to let the march
look like a funeral with our black clothes on. The spectators liked
them and us a lot, wherever we passed, they applauded and cheered;
we figured, that it probably was more the chants ("la lucha obrera
non tiene fronteras", "obreros unidos jamas saran vencidos" etc.)
and the nice diversity of our people, along with our wonderful banner
("dignity and respect for the working class" and "dignidad y respeto
para la clase obrera" respectively) provoking the positive sentiments
of our audience and not the black flags - we doubted, the people
even knew, what they were all about.

So we reached Banning Park, the final destination, at 1pm and were
looking for some vegetarian alternatives among the hot dogs and
hamburgers. The comrades from IWW had their little table among
all the other represented unions and organizations, and SCAF joined
the Troquero meeting at the park corner. The troqueros have
proclaimed the Saturday before Labor Day as the first Dia del
Troquero, and had met with all troquero groups from the different
companies in the harbor (the new formed "Allianza de Troqueros
Unidos") to organize a national strike. They are associated with
truckers from the harbors all the way from LA to Seattle and with
troqueros from Central America. Labor Day should mark the
starting point for a big strike and therefore the moment was rather
solemn, so the troqueros and we stood in a circle and everybody,
who felt like it, held a speech (not me, as I'm, again, with the
Mujeres Libres, and there was no woman except ours far and wide);
the men promised friendship and solidarity and mutual aid to each
other and applauded at the end. The panadero served carne asada to
us and a troquero assured us, whenever we need it, the panadero can
bring us mountains of bread, also for the vegetarians (how sweet!).
So we left the park with a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction
and I hope, that this was the starting point for a good collaboration
between our Si Se Puede collective and the troqueros and for a
nationwide truckers strike. The future will show!

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