Calls for West Coast Port Blockade

Posted: December 4, 2011 by globaloccupation in 2011, announcements, calls, December, usa
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

In this post:

I. SUPPORT GROWS FOR OCCUPY MOVEMENT’S COORDINATED WEST COAST SHUT DOWN ON DECEMBER 12TH

II. Why we aim to shut down the Port of Seattle on Dec 12th

III. Picketing Halts Work at Four LA-LB Terminals

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I. SUPPORT GROWS FOR OCCUPY MOVEMENT’S COORDINATED WEST COAST SHUT DOWN ON DECEMBER 12TH

http://www.westcoastportshutdown.org

As of November 27, 2011, the Occupy movement in every major West Coast port city: Occupy LA, Occupy San Diego, Occupy Portland, Occupy Tacoma, Occupy Seattle have joined Occupy Oakland in calling for and organizing a coordinated West Coast Port Blockade and Shutdown on December 12, 2011.   Other West Coast Occupies, including Occupy Anchorage and Vancouver, Canada are planning to join the economic blockade and disruption of the 1% on that date, according to organizers

“We’re shutting down these ports because of the union busting and attacks on the working class by the 1%: the firing of Port truckers organizing at SSA terminals in LA; the attempt to rupture ILWU union jurisdiction in Longview, WA by EGT.  EGT includes Bunge LTD, a company which reported 2.5 billion dollars in profit last year and has economically devastated poor people in Argentina and Brazil. SSA is responsible for inhumane working conditions and gross exploitation of port truckers and is owned by Goldman Sachs. EGT and Goldman Sachs is Wallstreet on the Waterfront” stated Barucha Peller of the West Coast Port Blockade Assembly of Occupy Oakland.

“We are also striking back against the nationally’ coordinated attack on the Occupy movement. In response to the police violence and camp evictions against the Occupy movement- This is our coordinated response against the 1%. On December 12th we will show are collective power through pinpointed economic blockade of the 1%.”

Each Occupy is organizing plans for a mass mobilization and community pickets to shut down their local Port.   The mobilization of over 60,000 people that shut down the Port of Oakland during the general strike on November 2, 2011 is the model for the West Coast efforts.  Organizers state that a police attempt to disrupt the port blockade or police violence against any city participating will extend duration of the blockade on the entire coast.

“These Ports are public. People have a right to come to the Port and protest.  The ILWU has historically honored picket lines at the Port.” stated Clarence Thomas, a member of ILWU Local 10.

ILWU longshore workers are involved as individuals in the planning of the Shutdown.  “I am a longshoreman and I support the December 12th Blockade against EGT.  EGT is a threat to the survival of the ILWU,” stated Anthony Leviege, a member of Local 10.  Dan Coffman, the president of Local 21 in Longview, has publicly thanked the Occupy movement and Occupy Oakland for its actions on November 2nd.

Further interviews and details can be obtained through local Port Blockade committees and the Oakland West Coast Port Blockade Assembly.

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II. Why we aim to shut down the Port of Seattle on Dec 12th

http://occupyseattle.org/blog/2011-11-29/west-coast-port-shutdown-december-12th

{…}

1) We will shut down the port to resist the budget cuts that target working class people.

The 1% are confident they can cut our health care, education, food aid, and social services because they think we won’t fight back. They are wrong. If they cut our safety net to pieces, we will cut their profits. The port is a major source of profits for the 1%, especially during the holiday season when they ship goods produced by Asian workers under horrible labor conditions to American malls where increasingly broke workers buy holiday presents on credit, worried about whether we will lose our jobs, food stamps, or health care. We are tired of worrying, so now we are fighting back. A port shutdown will hit the 1% directly in their wallets. Happy Holidays you scrooges.

2) We will shut down the port to bypass the corporate-controlled politicians and confront the 1% who really call the shots.

In December, some members of Occupy Seattle will be occupying the Capitol building; the rest of us here in Seattle will occupy capital: the port facilities of transnational corporations. Together, we fight against the same cuts.

Capital means the machines, trucks, ships, stores, cafes, hospitals, etc. – all the things the corporations own, which we work on to make their profits. One of their biggest pieces of capital is the port of Seattle. We know the 1% controls the politicians who are cutting the working class’s standard of living. So instead of begging politicians to stop cutting us, we’ll do what our friends did when they occupied Wall Street and go straight to the source of the problem: the capitalists. The ports are Wall Street on the waterfront – without them running, Wall Street makes no profits. If they cut our livelihoods, we will cut their profits.

3) We will shut down the port to defend workers’ right to organize.

We assert that the Occupy movement is part of the workers’ movement.

Goldman Sachs is the 1% of the 1%. They control a majority share of Stevedore Services of America (SSA), a major player in the port of Seattle. SSA is repressing immigrant port truckers who are trying to organize in their workplace in the port of LA, which is why Occupy LA put out the call for solidarity picket lines at ports up and down the West Coast on December 12th. Port truckers in Seattle are also face low pay, discrimination, unpaid time wasted at entry gates, etc., and we are in solidarity with them.

By building this solidarity, Occupy Seattle will show that we also are part of the workers’ movement. Because the 1% uses repressive labor laws and union busting firms to disrupt organizing efforts, only 11% of US workers are organized into labor unions. On December 12th, Occupy Seattle will take a stand to defend our right to organize on the job. We also recognize that the U.S. working class is starting to get organized in the Occupy movement, which makes us part of the workers’ movement. Many who are involved in the Occupy movement are members of unions. Many of us also make up the remaining 89% of U.S. workers who are not in unions, as well as the large sections of the U.S. working class who are unemployed, underemployed, students, and homeless. Our picket lines might not have the same legal standing as official union picket lines, but when the unions first started picketing back in the day they were also considered illegitimate. Occupy Seattle’s picket lines are still picket lines organized by working class people, in solidarity with fellow workers. December 12th is the first of many actions that Occupy will take as a new wing of the workers’ movement.

4) We will shut down the port in response to the police violence and harassment the Occupy movement has faced worldwide.

The 1% uses union busting tactics to shut down our organizing on the job and their cops use pepper spray, batons, and handcuffs to repress our organizing in the streets and plazas. We know that if the 1% wanted to, they could tell the police to stop all this repression. But they are apparently not embarrassed when global media broadcasts images of veteran Scott Olson with his head smashed in, or 84-year-old Dorli Rainey with her face full of pepper spray. They didn’t care when their cops kicked Jennifer Fox in the stomach, after which she miscarried. They didn’t care when their cops and security guards murdered Oscar Grant, John T. Williams, Jesus Mejia or Aiyana Jones. And in Egypt, the US-backed military regime has killed dozens of revolutionaries
and injured thousands since November 19 alone. They have called on the American Occupy movement to stand with them in solidarity.

The global 1% does not care about this state violence as long as their goods get shipped and their profits flow. On Nov 2nd, Occupy Oakland shut down the port of Oakland in response to the police violence they faced. On Dec. 12th we will do the same up and down the coast. Let’s show the forces of repression that when they stomp the flames of freedom they just spread the embers.

5) We will send a warning to EGT, the multinational conglomerate that is trying to bust the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).

EGT Development is refusing to honor the ILWU’s contract in Longview, WA, and we wish to stand in solidarity with the ILWU in their struggle against this union busting. Our action is independent from the ILWU; we are in no way attempting to co-opt or control their struggle and they are not controlling us. However, we are inspired by Longshore workers’ direct actions against EGT, and we are angered by the repression they are facing by the cops and courts, which is similar to the repression we are facing. We know that if the 1% busts the ILWU they will try to drive down all of our wages and working conditions next. We hope our action on the 12th will show EGT that we are capable of disrupting business. They should honor the ILWU’s contract because next time it could be their business.

Our decision to picket/ blockade the port is not deterred by the recent memo written by International ILWU President, Robert McEllrath, and quoted by the Longshore and Shipping News. We agree with the statement that the Occupy Oakland Port Blockade working group put out regarding our movement’s relations with the ILWU: http://westcoastportshutdown.org/content/clarification-nature-call-west-coast-port-blockade

In particular, we’d like to highlight that ILWU Local 21, Longview, Washington, was strongly heartened and encouraged by the overwhelming support shown for them by the historic November 2 port shutdown in Oakland. Their local president spoke at Oakland Occupy’s rally last Saturday, thanking us for our support. He and other ILWU rank and file members marched with us that day.” In particular, local 21 president Dan Kaufman said:

”When Nov 2nd happened, and it was against EGT in respect to the ILWU and Local 21, you cannot believe what you people did for the inspiration of my union members who have been on the picket line for six months now!”

For video footage of this, see: ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtdQCZSQ99I )

We’d also like to highlight that: “The ILWU rank and file have historically honored community picket lines in the port — for example they refused to cross community picket lines to unload cargo from apartheid South Africa.” They honored the community picket line set up by Occupy Oakland on Nov 2nd, and the ILWU Coast Committee cautioned its members that if a similar situation develops on Dec. 12, longshoremen should “stand in a safe area and await a decision by employers to call for an arbitrator.” This is similar to past situations where ILWU members have honored community picket lines. It allows the ILWU a legal out, not to cross the lines, if the picket lines are large enough to pose a threat to their safety, as interpreted by the arbitrator.

We aim to build trust and open communication between the Occupy movement and port workers.

6) We will shut down the port as part of the second phase of our movement

With this Dec. 12th action, the Occupy movement is undertaking a transformation. When we started occupying Seattle Central Community College, many people told us, “don’t disrupt life for the 99%, go disrupt it for the 1%.” They said the same thing when we joined labor unions to occupy a bridge on Nov 17th. These criticisms missed the fact that our camps have enhanced life for the 99% by providing educational opportunities, food, and shelter, and have stood as a visible reminder of the need for deeper social change. We agree though that we should be disrupting the 1% more. That’s why we’re occupying the port, as well as abandoned buildings owned by banks, wealthy developers, etc.

We will occupy everything. 

We believe everyone deserves the rights to housing, education, food and safety.

We believe our lives are worth more than our labor power.

We believe our community members should not die under the harsh rule of the 1%. We are simply laying claim to what has always been ours.

Everything for everyone.

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III. Picketing Halts Work at Four LA-LB Terminals

http://www.joc.com/labor/ilwu-clerks-end-port-la-lb-negotiations

ILWU clerical workers walk off jobs after 18 months of contract negotiations

International Longshore and Warehouse Union office clerical workers in Los Angeles-Long Beach broke off contract talks and set up picket lines at four container terminals after 18 months of negotiations.

ILWU dock workers walked off of their jobs at those four terminals shortly before noon on Friday, effectively shutting those sites down through the end the day.

Jim McKenna, president of the Pacific Maritime Association, which negotiates and administers waterfront contracts with ILWU longshoremen, marine clerks and foremen (but not the OCU office workers) said he was initiating labor relations committee talks that would most likely be followed immediately on Friday by PMA calling in the local arbitrator.

PMA charges that since the OCU is affiliated with the ILWU but operates independently from the larger dock workers union, the OCU picketers are not considered to have established a legitimate picket line under the waterfront contract.

Negotiations between the Office Clerical Unit of ILWU Local 63 and 14 individual employers have been underway since April 2010. The contract expired in June 2010 and the 580-member OCU union has been working without a contract since then.

Stephen Berry, the attorney representing all of the employers, said Thursday the negotiations broke down. International ILWU President Bob McEllrath, who had been participating in the negotiations, said “we” reserve the right to exercise “economic action,” Berry said.

Although the OCU is a unit of ILWU Local 63, the marine clerks union that works at the terminals, the OCU has its own contract and its own officers who handle negotiations. McEllrath and other international officers became involved in the negotiations in the fall of 2010, Berry said.

Last year the OCU workers established picket lines at several marine terminals and dock workers refused to cross the lines. PMA at that time called in the area arbitrator. He ruled that the OCU action did not constitute a legitimate picket line under the dock workers’ contract and he ordered the longshoremen to return to their jobs. Until Friday, there had been no attempted work stoppages.

Terminal operators and shipping lines that employ OCU members are seeking cost-cutting measure they say will make them more competitive. For example, the OCU normally insists that when a job opens for even few days because of illness or vacations, that it be filled from the hiring hall. Employers want to fill vacancies “as needed,” Berry said.

Also, the OCU will not allow members who may not have enough work on a particular day to shift to positions that are short of workers.

Berry said employers thought they were going to achieve a major breakthrough this summer when they offered to merge the OCU into the larger ILWU Local 63, giving the office workers full membership in the marine clerks union for the first time. The ILWU and the PMA approved the proposal, but the OCU turned it down, Berry said.

OCU President John Fageaux did not return phone calls.

OCU workers’ average earnings approach $100,000 a year. ILWU marine clerks’ wages average more than $150,000 a year including overtime and skill differential payments. The OCU members wanted to earn wages at the marine clerks’ level, but they did not want to replace their benefits with those in the marine clerks’ contract, Berry said. For example, OCU members get 12 weeks of paid vacation a year, he said.

McKenna said the Yusen Terminal and three terminals operated by Ports America were involved in Friday’s labor action. Work was proceeding normally at the other 10 terminals in Los Angeles-Long Beach harbor, he said.

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