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Occupy Strikes Back: West Coast Port Shutdown Dec. 12, 2011

I hope this action will cheer you Firedogs up; it sure gives me a needed lift.  I know we all hope for great success and that police restrain themselves, and don’t react violently.  The Occupiers have promised if they do, they will…Spread the Love further.

  • Participating occupations are asked to ensure that during the port shutdowns the local arbitrator rules in favor of longshoremen not crossing community picket lines in order to avoid recriminations against them.
  • Should there be any retaliation against any workers as a result of their honoring pickets or supporting our port actions, additional solidarity actions should be prepared.
  • In the event of police repression of any of the mobilizations, shutdown actions may be extended to multiple days.

The West Coast Occupy movement (Seattle, Oakland, Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Diego, Tacoma, and others) has called for a shutdown in solidarity with ILWU Local 21 in Longview, Washington in their struggle against EGT,  and the port truckers’ struggle with Goldman Sachs:

‘Wall Street on the Waterfront’

You will likely remember this post by Robert Alexander Dumas on the wildcat action staged by the ILWU in response to getting royally screwed by the municipally-owned Port of Longview.  Here is his ‘thumbnail sketch’:

“A transnational consortium by the name of EGT negotiated a long term lease on a property with the municipal authorities at the Port of Longview in the State of Washington. They spent $200 million dollars constructing a new grain handling port/rail terminal facility. Under the terms of the lease granted to EGT by the Port of Longview, EGT was obligated to fill the newly created jobs by employing ILWU?? (the International Longshore and Warehouse Union) workers.

After shopping around and finding a community that was the……most……desperate for some good jobs, and using that fact as leverage to extract concessions on acquisition of the land, as well as tax concessions from the municipality while negotiating the lease; having gotten all that they wanted from the Port of Longview and its citizen taxpayers, EGT began reneging on their obligations. They did not hire the longshoremen as stipulated in the lease. This traitorous behaviour after being granted a special tax exemption in the Washington state tax laws. The taxpaying citizens of Washington had agreed to forego an amount of taxes that would be a  “remittance equal to one hundred percent of the amount of tax paid for qualifying construction, materials, service, and labor.” Here is a link to the applicable revised tax code laws of the State of  Washington.

This Portland-based international consortium, EGT, is owned by a domestic/international partnership comprised of St. Louis-based Bunge North America, Japan-based Itochu Corporation, and Korean shipper Pan Ocean STX.” [snip]

The first inkling of EGT’s duplicity and bad faith came as they began construction of the new port facility. Rather than bidding the job out to a local contractor who would use local out of work trade union members and thereby begin to return the favors this small community had already done for them, EGT instead brought in an out of state contractor who brought in non-union workers. Use of union workers for the construction of the port facility had not been stipulated in the lease negotiations, but right from the get go the imagined benefits that the citizens of Longview thought they might derive from cooperating with these corporations started to go up in smoke.”

As Robert pointed out, EGT essentially pitted union workers against other union workers, a very degrading and hideous thing to do.  And ‘EGT [has] filed a law suit in Federal Court to get out of its contractual obligations to the ILWU, the Port of Longview and its citizens.”

On Nov. 2, Occupy Oakland, of course, shut down the Port there for a day; it was a great day for protestors until the unconscionable police response after dark.

The Ports have become iconic symbols for much of what ails this country as the multinationals make all the rules, consider massive profit over worker and human rights, partnered with our government’s total complicity.  We have ample evidence that they all mean to continue to betray us, and expand their calumny, including the recent trade deals with Korea, Columbia, Panama, and now the Pacific Rim nations.  All of them are grossly unfair to workers here, and potentially deadly to citizens in nations at the other ends.  But multinationals will make out like the bandits they are.

“From Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen to LongshoremenPlease honor picket line

You do the work—THEY, the global maritime bosses, profit at your expense. Your safety and your jobs are always at stake. OUR LONGVIEW LONGSHORE BROTHERS AND SISTERS ARE UNDER THE GUN FOR ALL OF US! THAT’S WHY OCCUPY OAKLAND IS CALLING FOR A PORT SHUTDOWN DEC. 12.

The bosses have been getting away with it for far too long. We can beat them, but we have to work together—unions, rank and file workers and Occupy. I was on my second pump to Iraq when ILWU—when you—led by your Vietnam vets, shut down the West Coast ports on May Day 2008 to stop the war. The best support I could have asked for in Iraq was from you brothers and sisters who wanted us home, alive and well- sooner, not later. I spent two pumps in Iraq looking for our enemies. Only after coming back home did I discover our greatest enemy—that is the enemy we are fighting now.

Please honor our Occupy picket lines. United we are stronger. As you say in your union, “AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL.” The only ones who will tell you otherwise are those that want to continue profiting off your backs. You all work hard at a dangerous job. You deserve to see something out of that.

I plan on standing tall again on December 12, and I look forward to standing with our longshoremen. PLEASE DO THE LABOR MOVEMENT PROUD LIKE YOU’VE DONE BEFORE AND HONOR OUR COMMUNITY PICKET LINE.

Scott Olsen 12/7/11″

“You don’t communicate with anyone purely on the rational facts or ethics of an issue… It is only when the other party is concerned or feels threatened that he will listen — in the arena of action, a threat or a crisis becomes almost a precondition to communication… No one can negotiate without the power to compel negotiation… To attempt to operate on a good-will basis rather than on a power basis would be to attempt something that the world has not yet experienced.”

Which side are you on?


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