More labor opposes Occupy’s port blockade

Another major local labor organization is decidedly not on board with Occupy Oakland’s effort to shut down the Port of Oakland this Monday as part of a coordinated action against all West Coast ports.

The Alameda County Building and Constructions Trades Council said today it can neither endorse nor support the move.

“Many affiliates of this Council joined actions calling for an end to greed on Wall Street, an end to home foreclosures by banks, supported students fighting for affordable education and teachers fighting for jobs and to keep schools from closing,” the council’s news release said. “Our unions have raised our voices and taken to the street to denounce the growing disparity between the 1 percent wealthy elite and the 99 percent of workers and the poor. We have called for good jobs and programs to put the unemployed to work so workers can be restored to a place of dignity and respect.”

“However, the call to shut down operations at the port of Oakland, where many of our unemployed workers and newly indentured apprentices have recently been able to get back to work, makes no sense,” the news release said. “Unions affiliated with this council represent hundreds of workers who are working and have worked at the port of Oakland. Not one of these unions has endorsed the call to shut down the port. Any effort that adversely affects the jobs and livelihood of the port’s workers – without considering the voice and sentiment of the workers and their unions – is wrong.”

The Chronicle’s Andrew Ross reported yesterday that the longshoremen’s union isn’t cool with this, either.

UPDATE @ 12:04 P.M.: Though certainly not a labor group, the Bay Area Council – a public-policy group representing the region’s largest employers, and generally signfiicantly more progressive on many issues than most chambers of commerce – also has just issued a statement opposing the port blockade:

“The Grinch couldn’t have devised a more misguided and misdirected scheme for stealing the livelihood of thousands of blue-collar workers than the plan by the Occupy protesters to shut down the Port of Oakland. We respect the deep sense of anger and frustration that the Occupy protesters feel about our current economic problems, but punishing the hard-working men and women who rely on the port for their livelihood is not the answer. The port is one of Northern California’s largest economic engines and one its largest employers, and shutting it down not only weakens its ability to compete with other port facilities but denies the city and county important tax revenues that pay for a wide range of vital public services.”


Why Occupy hopes to shut down West Coast ports

Organizers of the Occupy movement’s West Coast port shutdown, planned for Monday, Dec. 12, issued the following statement early this morning (to which I added links):

As of November 27, 2011, the Occupy movement in every major West Coast port city: Occupy LA, Occupy San Diego, Occupy Portland, Occupy Tacoma, Occupy Seattle have joined Occupy Oakland in calling for and organizing a coordinated West Coast Port Blockade and Shutdown on December 12, 2011. Other West Coast Occupies, including Occupy Anchorage and Vancouver, Canada are planning to join the economic blockade and disruption of the 1% on that date, according to organizers.

“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 devasted 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.

“We are also striking back against the nationally’ coordinated attack on the Occupy movement. In response to the police violence and camp evictions against the Occupy movement- This is our coordinated response against the 1%. On December 12th we will show are collective power through pinpointed economic blockade of the 1%.”

Each Occupy is organizing plans for a mass mobilization and community pickets to shut down their local Port. The mobilization of over 60,000 people that shut down the Port of Oakland during the general strike on November 2, 2011 is the model for the West Coast efforts. Organizers state that a police attempt to disrupt the port blockade or police violence against any city participating will extend duration of the blockade on the entire coast.

“These Ports are public. People have a right to come to the Port and protest. The ILWU has historically honored picket lines at the Port.” stated Clarence Thomas, a member of ILWU Local 10.

ILWU longshore workers are involved as individuals in the planning of the Shutdown. “I am a longshoreman and I support the December 12th Blockade against EGT. EGT is a threat to the survival of the ILWU,” stated Anthony Leviege, a member of Local 10. Dan Coffman, the president of Local 21 in Longview, has publicly thanked the Occupy movement and Occupy Oakland for its actions on November 2nd.

Further interviews and details can be obtained through local Port Blockade committees and the Oakland West Coast Port Blockade Assembly.

UPDATE @ 8:11 P.M.: As one re-tweeter noted, and I agree: There’s no way 60,000 people attended the Nov. 2 general strike in Oakland – not even close.


Big May Day rallies planned for tomorrow

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s West Coast dock workers — including those at the ports of Oakland and San Francisco — have voted to stop work tomorrow, Thursday, May 1, to protest the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Joined by other labor organizations and community groups, they’ll be rallying against the war and for workers’ and immigrants’ rights.

In Oakland, there’ll be a rally and cultural performances from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Fruitvale BART Plaza; a 4 to 6 p.m. march from there along International Boulevard to City Hall; and then another rally and set of performances at Frank Ogawa Plaza from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Among the confirmed speakers are Green Party presidential candidate and former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney; ILWU Local 10 executive board member Clarence Thomas; Alameda County Central Labor Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Sharon Cornu; Oakland Education Association President Betty Olson-Jones; Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition advocacy coordinator Evelyn Sanchez; and Mujeres Unidas y Activas program director Maria Jimenez.

There’ll be major happenings in San Francisco too, including a noontime rally at Justin Herman Plaza with McKinney, Cindy Sheehan, Alexander Cockburn, Danny Glover and other speakers.