Longshoremen’s Union Rejects Occupy Oakland’s Call for “Solidarity” West Coast Port Shutdown

After briefly shutting down their [adopted] city’s port earlier this month, Occupy Oakland is calling for a December 12 shutdown of all West Coast U.S. seaports. From the Occupiers:

We call on each West Coast occupation to organize a mass mobilization to shut down its local port.  Our eyes are on the continued union-busting and attacks on organized labor, in particular the rupture of Longshoremen jurisdiction in Longview Washington by the EGT.   Already, Occupy Los Angeles has passed a resolution to carry out a port action on the Port Of Los Angeles on December 12th, to shut down SSA terminals, which are owned by Goldman Sachs.

Occupy Oakland expands this call to the entire West Coast, and calls for continuing solidarity with the Longshoremen in Longview Washington in their ongoing struggle against the EGT.  The EGT is an international grain exporter led by Bunge LTD, a company constituted of 1% bankers whose practices have ruined the lives of the working class all over the world, from Argentina to the West Coast of the US.  During the November 2nd General Strike, tens of thousands shutdown the Port Of Oakland as a warning shot to EGT to stop its attacks on Longview.  Since the EGT has disregarded this message, and continues to attack the Longshoremen at Longview, we will now shut down ports along the entire West Coast.

Naturally, the self-righteous letter was signed “In Solidarity and Struggle, Occupy Oakland.” The labor dispute to which they refer has been covered by CEI’s Ivan Osorio on this site in the past. Essentially, the Longview, Washington, contingent of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union is upset that Longview grain terminal owner EGT wants to use a contractor that has a collective bargaining agreement with a different union, the International Union of Operating Engineers.

The dispute is essentially between two unions battling over who gets to represent about 35 workers at a new grain terminal (the Occupiers are mobilizing against international commerce over a fight among two member unions of the AFL-CIO and are choosing to support one union over another; meaning Occupy West Coast’s planned December 12 event is a union-busting action?). Several hundred of ILWU’s Longview club-wielding thugs members had previously responded by holding port security guards hostage, damaging rail cars, and dumping grain on the ground.

It should not be surprising to many that Occupy Oakland has no idea what they’re talking about. It is a bit surprising, though, given ILWU’s history of violence and support for solidarity shutdowns, that the union is rejecting any help from West Coast Occupiers. A letter sent by the union to all ILWU West Coast locals condemns the Occupiers for attempting to interfere with the ongoing labor dispute in Longview:

“To be clear, the ILWU, the Coast Longshore Division and Local 21 are not coordinating independently or in conjunction with any self-proclaimed organization or group to shut down any port or terminal, particularly as it related to our dispute with EGT in Longview (Wash).”

In fact, the ILWU Coast Committee appears perturbed that groups outside of the union “intent on driving their own agendas” are using ILWU issues to pursue their own goals.

The ILWU considers its dispute with EGT, which is attempting to open a grain terminal in Longview, Wash., with the use of non-ILWU labor, to be a crucial issue for the union, but the ILWU does not want outside groups using that issue to attract support from the union rank and file for a ports shutdown.

“Other social media groups that pretend to be ILWU-related but are in no way sanctioned or informed by the elected leadership are publicly trying to link the Coast Longshore Division’s primary labor dispute with EGT in Longview to the call for a ‘shut down’ of the West Coast ports,” the letter stated.

Perhaps the union is just worried about the increasingly expensive legal sanctions it is facing as a result of its previous illegal activities, but it is more likely that they don’t want a clueless, message-less band of kooks ruining whatever non-union sympathy they have left for their “plight.”