Protesters prevent Israeli ship from unloading during two days of picketing outside the Port of Oakland
"I think it was remarkable because it was the first time that organized labor had actually ever taken a position against the Israeli government," Thomas said. "And they passed resolutions supporting that action, and that vessel didn't work for 24 hours. Now, four years later, another action is taking place against the Zim vessel, this time for the atrocities that have taken place in Gaza."
Thomas said this protest could become part of a broader movement: "The Zim vessel doesn't just come to the Port of Oakland. It goes to other ports. What will the community do, and what will longshoremen do, when that vessel goes to those ports? If they followed the example here, they're not going to work it."
In a statement that was included in a press packet prepared by protest organizers, Jack Heyman, a retired member of ILWU Local 10 and chair of the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, noted that Aug. 16 was selected to commemorate striking mineworkers who were killed in 2012 by the South African government in what became known as the Marikana Massacre.
"It has become a seminal event in the history of South African working class struggles," Heyman wrote. "The Transport Workers Solidarity Committee calls on transport workers the world over to refuse to work Israeli cargo on ships, rails, planes, or trucks on Aug. 16."