Proposal as Adopted by Unanimous Consensus of the General Assembly of OccupyLA, Nov. 15, 2011
Carry out a port action, "Occupy the Ports/A Day without Goldman Sachs," on December 12 as part of the Dec. 12 day of migrant rights action, Boycott and March already adopted by the GA. The occupation will take place at at least one facility owned by SSA Marine, a shipping company belonging to Goldman Sachs, (coordinated with a possible port shut down by the port truck drivers) as a build up towards a General Strike on May 1, 2012.
a) Establish a General Strike Preparation Committee of OccupyLA, which will work with the Dec. 12 Coalition, port truck drivers, longshore, warehouse and other port workers, community residents, unions, and OccupyLongBeach to plan and organize the Dec. 12 actions.
b) Develop alliances in the process with organized and unorganized labor, student and community groups to prepare for and build towards a General Strike on May 1, 2012, or at any moment that circumstances and conditions demand.
c) Call on other Occupations to act on Dec. 12 and May 1.
The 1% are depriving port truck drivers and other workers of decent pay, working conditions and the right to organize, even while the port of LA/LB is the largest in the US and a huge engine of profits for the 1%. The 1% have pursued a conscious policy of de-industrialization that has resulted in "trade" at the port meaning that there are 7 containers coming in for every one going out. The 1% have driven migrant workers into a "grey market" economy and repression. The 1% use police brutality and repression, jails and prisons to suppress, divide and try to silence the 99% and all who oppose their insatiable greed. To put an end to all that, we call on the 99% to march, boycott, occupy the ports, and STRIKE on December 12 for full legalization, good jobs for all, equality and justice. The port drivers and other workers have the power to push forward the kind of change we need. By building towards a General Strike, we can spread the Occupy movement and sink roots in the 99%.
This proposal is a tremendous step forward, on which we must build to create a pro-active dynamic that push the Occupy movement forward and take the initiative in confronting and overcoming any repressive actions directed against the OccupyLA encampment.
Politically, it means the Occupy movement is oriented towards building a General Strike as a form of direct action to mobilize the power of working and oppressed people. This can serve as a frame for all the protests, marches, actions, occupations, civil disobedience, educational activities and outreach we engage in. It counters any effort to divert the Occupy movement into partisan politics or electoral activity, and sets a context for any legal, legislative or lobbying initiatives we undertake to enforce our rights or demands in the courts or legislative bodies. It also means we are addressing the fundamental economic problems and system underlying the current crises of credit/debt/housing, unemployment, and corporate domination of politics.
Strategically, it means we are orienting ourselves towards building the Occupy movement broadly among organized and unorganized labor and communities of resistance/civil society, towards the goal of such a General Strike, including among such significant and increasingly active sectors as students, migrants, unions, prisoners, the unemployed, homeless, and faith-based groups. We are parlaying the momentum of the Occupy movement and the chord it has struck among the fed-up 99% into a process of alliance building and empowerment.
We need to move quickly to implement the commitment to spread this call for action on Dec. 12 and towards a May 1 General Strike to other occupations. OccupyOakland has already declared that they will be acting in solidarity with our port action and the larger Dec. 12 movement on that date.
Tactically, it charts a process of using a growing campaign of non-violent direct actions, protests and civil disobedience to unite all those social forces into a powerful movement capable of overcoming divisions within and between separate existing movements via united action that demonstrates and manifests the power of the people from whom all the wealth and power concentrated currently in the hands of the 1% is actually derived, and puts the power, and the initiative, back into our own hands. It breaks the sense of defeatism and isolation that has held us back individually and collectively, and provides a way to cohere our disparate efforts. It makes it possible to connect occupations, student activism, labor struggles, prisoner resistance such as work stoppages and hunger strikes, or consumer boycotts, into a common and mutually reinforcing network and framework, where each action or component builds upon the last and builds up towards the next.
Logistically, for the particular port action and other December 12 activities, it allows OccupyLA to act, in concert with allies such as GoodJobsLA and certain unions, as well as the larger Dec. 12 Coalition and other forces in the migrant rights movement, to take an occupation action directed against Goldman Sachs, one of the best known and most hated culprits in the current economic devastation and orgy of greed. SSA is currently under attack for environmentally harmful actions and plans in Bellingham WA, where in their effort to build a massive coal-handling terminal they built an illegal road. They have also been charged in Oakland with hiding information about potentially explosive cargoes. This connects environmental and safety concerns to issues of wealth concentration and labor exploitation. We will need to leaflet massively at schools, shops, factory gates, welfare and unemployment lines, and elsewhere for this action, and support the truck drivers in their leafletting and spreading the word among truck drivers.
By setting a gathering point in the Harbor Area with potential and unspecified targets that include 5 different SSA terminals in Long Beach and Los Angeles as well as a "landbridge" trans-shipment warehouse facility in Carson, we divide the repressive forces among many different possible venues and leave ourselves flexibility of action depending on the forces we can muster. Our action may allow the ILWU, which otherwise cannot stop working, to take advantage of health and safety aspects of their contract that justify a shut-down. Through our own organizing and solidarity efforts, we provide a spark that may enable the port truck drivers to unify their ranks and take action that will shut down the entire port for a day to demonstrate their power and indispensable labor. By setting the port action for early morning to coincide with the morning shift at the docks, we provide for folding that action into building the March and Rally later in the morning downtown, and a possible truck-drivers' convoy from the Harbor to downtown. We will also need to deal carefully with the intense aspects of the repressive apparatus of "Homeland Security" at the port.
Following that course toward the General Strike on May 1, International Workers Day commemorating the US General Strike for the 8-hour day, we will be talking with unions whose contracts are expiring or have expired, to unify their forces and act in concert with a General Strike call, to take strike actions against their respective employers. For example, the janitors who clean all the downtown office towers have a contract expiring at the end of April. If teachers were to take a job action it would likely be in the late spring. From now to Dec. 12, we can educate the 99% about our common interest with organized labor and the migrant community and migrant rights movement, and moving on from Dec. 12, about the need for independent, militant mass action to defend our rights and our economic interests against the depradations of the 1%.
All this to say that we can establish a dynamic in which we pro-actively set the terms of the struggle based on our own agenda and timetable, as opposed to always reacting to state strategies and attacks. We also orient the Occupy movement outward from the encampments, and our internal contradictions and problems, into effective engagement with key sectors of the 99% already in independent motion against the 1%. This will give us the strength and backing to deter or to answer any police attacks on our encampments or our movement.
Self-criticisms and weaknesses: Two aspects of this proposal that are inadequate relate to the issues of indigenous sovereignty and of militarism and imperial war. In the course of the work, we need to overcome these weaknesses, bringing greater emphasis to these issues and their connections to the fundamental nature of the economic and political crisis we are facing, and to the illegitimate power and wealth of the 1%. We need to reach out to and build alliances with indigenous and anti-colonial movements and with anti-war, anti-militarism forces including military families and vets. Both must be incorporated into the planning for and the political and cultural presentations at the Dec. 12 and May 1 action