The International Longshore and Warehouse Union is waging a battle against union-busting. ILWU Local 21 in Longview, Washington is under attack by a giant consortium, EGT, which has built a $200 million grain terminal and is running it as a scab operation. This directly violates the port agreement with ILWU which has had jurisdiction for over 75 years. This union-busting must be stopped. It’s the fight of working people everywhere.
If EGT succeeds, other grain handlers will push for scab operations as well. That would affect the entire ILWU, as grain contracts contribute 30% to our benefits. Not only health & welfare but also our pension fund, dangerously underfunded at 64%. Breaking ILWU jurisdiction would immediately threaten our container ports. ILWU is one of the most militant unions in the country. This is a make-or-break struggle for all organized labor.
Longview Local 21 and San Francisco Local 10, Harry Bridges’s local, are asking for your support. The struggle is coming to a head as EGT plans to bring in a ship to load the scab grain stored in their terminal in Longview. This could happen at any time, possibly in mid- to late-January. We are urging workers to join a caravan to go to Longview from your area when the ship comes in and to participate in a mass labor protest rally. It’s your right and your duty, to your fellow union members and to yourself.
If thousands of union brothers and sisters show up, along with supporters in other unions and the Occupy movement who have aided the struggle against EGT in Longview, we can put a stop to this union-busting operation. We won’t have much advance warning. So we need to prepare to come with our workmates, friends, family, with everyone who understands that our future is at stake in Longview. Get ready to be there!
It can be done. Longshore workers have done it. Last July a thousand ILWU members and supporters blocked a train carrying grain to the scab terminal. On September 7, 400 union supporters blocked a grain train in Vancouver, Washington, and then again in Longview. The next morning hundreds of longshore workers arrived from all the Northwest ports before dawn, and news media reported thousands of tons of grain ended up on the tracks. The ports of Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Vancouver and Portland were shut down — the workers were all in Longview. Now we need you to “meet and greet” the scab ship.
The brothers and sisters in Longview are doing their part. Under a police reign of terror Local 21 with only 225 members has 220 arrests for defending ILWU jurisdiction. They have built a large and broad support campaign with rallies and mass pickets several totaling over a thousand.
Others have contributed too. On Nov. 2, Occupy Oakland mobilized 30,000 people to shut down the port to show their “commitment to solidarity with Longshore workers in their struggles against EGT in Longview, Washington.” Local 21 President Dan Coffman speaking about Nov. 2 at Occupy Oakland said, “You can’t believe what you people did for the inspiration of my union members. . .” And on Dec. 12, Occupy called to shut down the coast in support of the struggle in Longview. Again shipping in the port of Oakland was shut down, along with terminals in Seattle, Portland and elsewhere.
We’re all in this together. The San Francisco and Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Counties Central Labor Councils have already declared their support. We will be signing up people who are ready to go up to Longview in a caravan when they call us. Local 21 is leading the way. Northwest locals have stepped up to the plate, as has the Occupy movement. Now it is everyone’s turn. Together we have the power! Use it or lose it. Show that working people are ready, willing and able to fight for our rights.
January 4, 2012
H/T Michael Munk.