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by Worker Freedom
Friday, Sep. 16, 2005 at 1:36 PM
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!).
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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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