Pro-Palestine “Block the Boat” actions, where dockworkers block the transport of arms to Israel, have proliferated in recent years. Recalling actions against apartheid South Africa, they’re an effective way for labor to oppose Israel’s war on Gaza.
Peter Cole is a professor of history at Western Illinois University and a research associate in the Society, Work and Development Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He is the author or editor of several books, most recently Ben Fletcher: The Life & Times of a Black Wobbly. He is the founder and codirector of the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Commemoration Project.
In April 1947, Paul Robeson, the outspoken leftist artist and singer, was barred from performing in Peoria, Illinois. The repressive move, though fought by a radical labor union of black and white workers, prefigured the Red Scare that would soon envelop the country.
US labor union density is at historic lows, and multinational corporations seem more powerful than ever. But by organizing to take advantage of strategic vulnerabilities in supply chains, workers can still score major victories.
The Industrial Workers of the World pioneered a radical unionism that built a small but incredibly dedicated group of unionists and union supporters — which is why American capitalists and politicians quickly decided they needed to stop the union.
There is no twenty-first-century capitalism without the shipping and oil industries. And understanding the global economic system means understanding their operation in the Arabian Peninsula.
Dock workers in San Francisco and Durban, South Africa, have huge amounts of strategic leverage in the global economy. Both have long used that power not just to fight for better wages, but also to fight imperialism and racism.
Ten years ago today, West Coast longshore workers celebrated May Day by walking out against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
True to its name, the Industrial Workers of the World spanned the globe — an international history that has long been forgotten.
Labor organizer Ella Reeve Bloor died on this day in 1951. Her life stands as a signpost for all radicals.
On this day in 1890, the US Army murdered as many as 300 Native American men, women, and children.
In the 1960s, a group of leftists risked everything to revive the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
Eric Hoffer was a conservative who only had the time to write because he was represented by a powerful leftist union.