The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 75/No. 46      December 19, 2011

Shut out of terminal, ILWU
prepares protest of first ship
LONGVIEW, Wash.—“The union will organize a large protest the day EGT brings in their ship,” ILWU Local President Dan Coffman, told the Militant. “We have pledges of support to be here from many unions and organizations.”

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 is engaged in a battle against union busting by EGT Development, which has refused to hire ILWU members at its grain terminal in violation of an agreement between the union and the Port of Longview.

EGT has hired members of Operating Engineers Union Local 701 through a subcontractor under inferior conditions and without a contract. Since June the ILWU has maintained 24-hour picket lines in front of the terminal.

The company is moving ahead with plans to bring in its first grain ship in the coming weeks.

Coast Guard officers and representatives of the River Pilots Association leadership crossed the ILWU picket line Nov. 29 to meet with EGT, according to Coffman.

“The River Pilots Association representative actually called the union hall here to state they were going to cross our picket lines because they were under Oregon state regulations to meet with EGT on preparations to bring a ship here,” said Coffman.

“We are a professional organization of independent contractors,” Paul Amos, president of the Columbia River Pilots Association, told the Militant. “We are not a labor organization in the traditional sense. Technically we may have crossed the ILWU picket line, but not to go to work in there. We were asked by the Coast Guard to meet them and EGT for the purpose of discussing safety… . The Coast Guard and Homeland Security will be overseeing the operation.”

Local 21 as been reaching out for solidarity from working people and other unions.

Byron Jacobs, 28, secretary-treasurer here visited members of the International Longshore Association Local 1422 in Charleston, S.C., Nov. 25-26.

In September Ken Riley, president of ILA Local 1422, visited Longview to bring solidarity. He joined union actions against cop brutality and arrests of union members following Sept. 7-8 union protests at the terminal.

The ILA represents maritime workers on the East Coast, Gulf Coast, Great Lakes and rivers. The ILWU organizes workers in the same industry on the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii.

“The ILA knows all about fighting union busting and police attacks from their own experience,” Jacobs told the Militant, referring to the ILA members’ five-month battle in 2000 against union-busting efforts by Nordana Shipping Lines at the Port of Charleston.  
‘Inspired by Charleston fight’
Hundreds of police attacked members of the ILA when they picketed a Nordana ship in January 2000. Leaders of the union were then framed up on “riot charges.” Through a determined struggle—which included joining with thousands of others to demand removal of the Confederate flag from the state capitol—the shipping company was compelled to hire union workers and charges against the union leaders were dropped.

“When I visited the union hall in Charleston Nov. 25, I saw all the ILA history displayed in photos on the wall.” Jacobs told the Militant. “Ken Riley introduced me to ILA members gathered for their noon hiring hall session and explained how the police had assaulted me and other union members and supporters after we protested union busting.

“I told them we in ILWU Local 21 were inspired by what they went through in Charleston and that we had learned from their experiences. I was immediately bombarded with questions from union members who wanted to know the full details.

“The next day Ken gave me a tour of Charleston and showed me the docks where the ILA battles took place,” continued Jacobs. “He also showed me the old movie theater that had been segregated with a ‘whites only’ section as part of the racist set up at the time he was growing up.

“My great-grandfather, a Lumbee` Indian in my hometown of Pembroke, N.C., was one of hundreds of Lumbee who in 1958 ran the Ku Klux Klan out of town. The Klan had come there to have a show of force against intermarriage among Indians and people of other races. I’ve seen a photo that shows him displaying the flag he captured from the Klan prior to burning it at a powwow.”

“This visit was a very eye opening experience,” Jacobs said. “It shows us the support we have everywhere.”

A solidarity meeting has been called to support ILWU Local 21 on Dec. 10. The meeting will be held at the Seattle Labor Temple, 2800 First Ave at 5 p.m. It is sponsored by the Martin Luther King County Labor Council; Pride At Work, AFL-CIO; and other groups.
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New Zealand: Locked-out meat workers win support
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2 million public workers join 1-day strike in U.K.
Back workers’ lockout battles, strikes  
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