"We're shutting down these ports because of the union busting and attacks on the working class by the 1%: the firing of Port truckers organizing at SSA terminals in LA; the attempt to rupture ILWU union jurisdiction in Longview, WA by EGT. EGT includes Bunge LTD, a company which reported 2.5 billion dollars in profit last year and has economically devastated poor people in Argentina and Brazil. SSA is responsible for inhumane working conditions and gross exploitation of port truckers and is owned by Goldman Sachs. EGT and Goldman Sachs is Wallstreet on the Waterfront" stated Barucha Peller of the West Coast Port Blockade Assembly of Occupy Oakland.Meetings have been occurring weekly since Occupy Seattle's General Assembly vote to support the port shutdown. Held in West Seattle, the meetings were open to the public and organizers heard community concerns about the action in order to conduct the action in an efficient and community-friendly manner. Continuing outreach has been staged at the Port of Seattle in order to talk to workers as they end their shifts about the impending shutdown.
Reportedly, Port workers who must remain anonymous due to their contracts, have attended the meetings in West Seattle and voiced their support for the move.
The Stranger's online blog, the Slog, posted today that the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has now stated that they do not support this action:
“Local 19 and the ILWU as a whole has taken a position against shutting down the ports on Dec. 12," Williams told me. "Obviously we support the Occupy movement as a whole and the causes they’re fighting for. But as far as shutting down the Port of Seattle, we’re not in favor of that. There’s a lot of jobs—union jobs and other jobs as well—associated with shutting down commerce, and we can’t support that.”Far from concerned about the statement, organizers I spoke with were confident that this action was appropriate. Longshoremen have been secretly meeting with Occupy Seattle on a regular basis and do support shutdown, and it's not hard to see why. One only needs to look to the recent conflict between local unions and multinational conglomerate EGT in Longview to understand why a strong statement needs to be made to companies that represent the 1%'s interests to the detriment of union workers.
Why use a shutdown to get our point across? At its most basic concept, we're sending a message by fucking with the 1%'s money. Frankly, the impact to workers (who already support the action) is minimal. They're still going to get paid.
On a broader scope, however, we only need to look as far as the iconic Letter from Birmingham Jail, written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to see why shutting down the Port of Seattle for a day will benefit union workers:
Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.In the end, ILWU's statement that they do not support port shutdown is an effort on the part of the union to cover their proverbial asses. It would be a breach of contract to support our action, so they cannot speak positively for it. They have no option.
Luckily, we do have options, and we're going to use them. One of those is shutdown, and on the 12th of December we will be doing just that.
See you at the Port!