An Injury to One is an Injury to All
Standing as One With Longview
The workers at the Port of Longview in Washington State have been waging a fierce struggle to defend their rights for more than two years. The workers and their union, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) are contending with efforts by monopoly EGT to break the union and lower living standards up and down the west coast. EGT, an international cartel owned by the St. Louis-based food monopoly Bunge, Itochu International of Japan and STX Pan Ocean of South Korea, has hired scab mercenaries to work below the Pacific Northwest standard for wages, pensions and working conditions. EGT refuses to negotiate and refuses to abide by the decades-long agreemnt that longshore workers work the ports. The workers have persisted in organized resistance, using united action to close the Northwest ports, numerous demonstrations and sit-ins at the port and rallying broad support from many unions and supporters.
Longview ILWU Local 21 has now issued a call to workers and unions nationwide to join them in Longview to resist efforts by EGT to break their union and to defend the rights of workers.
ILWU reports that EGT will be bringing in a ship to send grain out of the port sometime in January. According to the union, they will face not only the private mercenaries of EGT but the ship “will be escorted by armed United States Coast Guard, including the use of small vessels and helicopters, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the EGT facility and that the facility itself will be protected by a full complement of local law enforcement from multiple jurisdictions.” Use of the Coast Guard against the workers is unacceptable. The workers are not criminals, their struggle is not a crime and use of the military and police forces cannot be justified. Voice of Revolution denounces use of the military police nd mercenaries against the workers. Their use is an indication that the attacks by the monopolies and the state against all workers will increase in 2012. Standing as one at Longview is a fitting response!
Voice of Revolution urges all to stand with the Longview workers. Lend a hand in whatever manner possible – take action the same day, wear armbands, join in spreading the word, call or fax expressions of support, get resolutions of support passed, send financial contributions and go directly to Longview when the united action against EGT is called (phone: 360-423-0950 fax: 360-423-54980, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, updates: http://www.longshoreshippingnews.com/?s=egt)
The struggle being waged by Longview workers for their rights and for progress is the fight of all. Join Longview workers in stepping up the organized resistance. We Are One! All for One and One for All!
U.S. Longshore Workers Defend Their Rights and the Progressive Trend of History
On September 7 and 8, Washington State longshore workers in Seattle, Tacoma, Longview and Vancouver (Wash.) stood up as one in defense of their rights. Over one thousand members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) closed down the Seattle and Tacoma ports while a thousand more closed the ports along the Columbia River in Longview and Vancouver and engaged in other actions both days.
The workers at Longview overwhelmed the new grain terminal of monopoly cartel EGT and entered the premises demanding their right to a contract and the removal of scab labor. They expressed their frustration with the refusal of the EGT monopoly to abide by an agreement with the Longview Port that only union longshore workers of the ILWU work the port, and with the company’s unwillingness to enter into any discussion with the ILWU.
The workers have continued their struggle with demonstrations, more sit-downs on the port railroad tracks and organizing to gain broad support for their fight. Workers from the Teamsters, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, United Food and Commercial Workers, Inland Boatmen’s Union, and Painters union have participated in demonstrations. More than 200 local businesses display signs in their windows expressing their support for ILWU Local 21 and their fight for rights. Many international unions have also organized actions and sent messages.
The Longview workers have also faced brutal state organized violence and repression, with hundreds of arrests. West Coast dockworkers stopped all machinery and equipment for fifteen minutes September 26 denouncing the arrest of ILWU International President Bob McEllrath for participating in actions. They stood in silence and anger against the police brutality and repression of their struggle. McEllrath followed in the footsteps of 200 ILWU Local 21 members — all with arrest warrants for participating in the struggle — who attempted to turn themselves in at the Cowlitz County Hall of Justice on September 16. Their offer was ignored and instead police ambushed workers and their families, using multiple-squad cars in the following days. Police have also openly spied on the union hall, followed and harassed union members and arrested and jailed people for minor misdemeanor offenses.
Now EGT has hired a private army, Special Response Corporation, in a further attempt to intimidate the workers and block the just struggle for their rights. The workers are rejecting all these efforts and advancing their fight. Their experience is a significant example in current efforts by the workers to defend the progressive trend of history for human-centered societies where the rights of all are guaranteed.
September 7-8 Port Closures
Before sunrise in Longview, 500 workers overwhelmed the gates of the EGT grain terminal, demanding their right to a contract and the removal of scab labor. Workers left the premises after several hours to return to their union hall.
Instead of abiding by the Longview Port agreement, EGT, an international cartel owned by the St. Louis-based food monopoly Bunge, Itochu International of Japan and STX Pan Ocean of South Korea, has hired scab mercenaries from Portland to work the new grain terminal at wages, benefits, pensions and working conditions below the Pacific Northwest standard and outside the unity of the ILWU. EGT bragged that it would “save” over a million dollars a year on the 50 workers needed to run the new grain terminal.
If this is allowed to pass, Pacific Northwest longshore workers say this would break the unity of workers necessary to maintain their collective port agreements and their standard of living established over decades of struggle. Longshore workers emphasize that the ILWU was born in the Northwest in the heroic struggles of 1934 against state and company organized violence and intimidation. The workers’ victory marked a new beginning and broke new ground in defense of the rights of all. If the unity of longshore workers is breached for whatever reason, the even more aggressive monopolies and state of today will tear apart the existing living and working standards and destroy their trade union.
Meanwhile upstream on the Columbia River, 400 longshore workers and their supporters in Vancouver (Wash.) occupied the railway line to stop the first grain train heading for the Longview Port. They were met with state-organized violence from a large contingent of heavily armed police sent to criminalize the workers, who were defending their rights, and to inflict injuries on them with baton charges, tear gas and pepper-spray and to arrest dozens including ILWU president Bob McEllrath. Reports say that longshore workers stood their ground demanding McEllrath’s release and the recognition of their rights. His release came after negotiations during which the demonstrators were told “next time the authorities would bring in the army.”
Longshore workers in the Pacific Northwest say that they are determined to bring the entire Longview Port, including the new grain terminal within their union family and under a similar collective agreement. The conditions of today, where monopolies act with impunity under the protection of an anti-social aggressive state machine, demand the opening of new ground in defense of workers’ rights just as the situation in 1934 called for heroic actions to open new ground to establish the ILWU.
Longshore and other transportation workers along the west coast of North America add value to the commodities they handle. Those workers have first priority on the added-value they create; governments have second claim, while the claims of owners of capital come last. That is the progressive trend of history and the only way a modern society can operate. Governments and companies must be held to account to abide by that modern definition of the distribution of added-value.
To turn a modern society upside down and have a monopoly deny the rights of the actual producers and the progressive trend of history and declare its claim on the added-value workers produce as the first priority and for government authorities to support that obsolete position using the power of the state machine to criminalize workers will not work and can never work.
Whereas: the ILWU has always been at the forefront in the struggle for social justice and better working conditions. And, Whereas: ILWU Local 21 has inspired working people worldwide. And,
Whereas: ILWU jurisdiction is under an unprecedented attack. And,
Whereas: It is clear to all working people that EGT is seeking to race to the bottom and destroy a long history of good family wage jobs throughout the area. And,
Whereas: The Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Counties Central Labor Council, hereinafter called the council, recognize the blatant union busting tactics of EGT, as well, the danger of losing the ILWU as a powerful ally for the working class. And,
Be it Resolved: that this Council call out to friends of labor and the "99%" everywhere to come to the aid of ILWU Local 21, and to support them in any way possible in their fight against multi national conglomerate EGT. And,
Be it further Resolved: that this Council request that anyone willing to participate in a community and labor protest in Longview, Washington of the first EGT grain ship, do so when called upon by this body. And,
Finally be it Resolved: that the Council forward this resolution to all local unions, the Washington State Labor Council, Oregon Federation of Labor, California Labor Federation, the AFL-CIO, and all other relevant organizations.
Whereas, EGT Development, a joint venture of multinational corporations Bunge, Itochu and STX Pan Ocean agreed to hire union Longshoremen when accepting millions in taxpayer funds to build a massive grain exporting terminal at the Port of Longview, and once the terminal was built has tried to void its contract and has refused to hire ILWU labor, and
Whereas, with the use of police and courts and the 220 arrests in the 225-member ILWU Local 21, EGT has managed to get enough grain across ILWU picket lines and into the terminal that EGT appears poised to load a ship soon in violation of their agreement with the Port of Longview, and
Whereas, an ILWU Local 10-endorsed solidarity caravan of union members and community activists from the Bay Area is being organized to bolster our brothers and sisters of ILWU Local 21 in Longview WA for an emergency mass protest when requested to do so, therefore
Be It Resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council endorses the solidarity caravan, will spread the word about the caravan to its membership and constituency groups, and encourage their participation. (The Executive Committee of the Labor Council also voted unanimously January 3 to provide $1500 in funds for the caravan.)