International Longshore and Warehouse Union

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Alternate Names: International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union
Duration: 1937 - current (Africa solidarity work known in the 1970s and 1980s)
Location: San Francisco, California, United States


The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) is a West Coast union whose members load and unload ships. In 1977 the ILWU convention passed a resolution "to implement means through which the union will stop all handling of goods to or from South Africa and Rhodesia." In 1979 or the first half of 1980 the ILWU urged its affiliates to divest pension funds from South African related firms. A number of ILWU locals were involved in anti-apartheid work and campaigns. In the 1976 following the uprising of students in Soweto ILWU Local 10 in Oakland formed a Southern Africa Liberation Support Committee (SALSC); key players included Leo Robinson, Larry Wright, Dave Stewart, Bill Proctor. In 1976 Local 10 called for a nationwide boycott of South African and Rhodesian cargos. In1977 SALSC led a successful one-day boycott of South African cargo.  In November of 1984 members of ILWU Locals 10 and 34 refused to unload the Nedlloyd Kimberley at Pier 80 in San Francisco for eleven days, because it was carrying South African cargo. In the 1980s the ILWU Local 10 Southern Africa Liberation Support Committee worked with the Bay Area Free South Africa Movement (BAFSM).  (Source:  Documents available on this website including: Anti-Apartheid Organizing On Campus... ....And Beyond, South Africa Catalyst Project, 1978; SUPPORT THE BOYCOTT OF WHITE SUPREMACIST CARGOES!, African Liberation Support Committee of New Hampshire-Vermont, August 30, 1976; Report of Activities of United States NGOs in Support of Economic Sanctions Against South Africa by Anita Pfouts and Paul Irish, American Committee on Africa, June 1980; U.S. Trade Union Action Against Apartheid by Harold Rogers, Conference in Solidarity with the Liberation Struggles of the Peoples of Southern Africa, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, October 1981; Agenda West Coast Meeting to Stop South African Trade, Bay Area Free South Africa Movement, about August 1985; and WEST COAST CONFERENCE IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENTS OF SOUTH AFRICA (ANC) AND NAMIBIA (SWAPO), March 18, 1986; the article Work a Day for Freedom! A short history of the Bay Area Free South Africa Labor Committee by David Bacon and Leo Robinson: ILWU activist led anti-apartheid struggle by Peter Cole; and Wikipedia accessed February 21, 2018)