Scroll for updates…Oakland, Portland, Los Angeles mobbed, Occupiers vow to extend shutdown in response to “police brutality”…Update 10:47pm Eastern…Occupiers vow to block 3am shift in Oakland…arrests after trains blocked in Bellingham, WA…
Here we go again.
You remember where the “Day of Rage” 2011 festivities first broke out earlier this fall, don’t you?
If you were paying attention, you know the answer:
The port of Longview, Washington.
Unionized longshoremen stormed the port there and took a half-dozen guards hostage in early September. They damaged railroad cars and dumped grain, smashed windows, cut brake lines, and blocked a train for hours while the ILWU and AFL-CIO cheered them on. Despite violating a judicial restraining order and committing systematically planned sabotage and trespassing, most of the thugs got away with wrist slaps. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union received a $250,000 fine to cover damages from the vandalism. One of the mobsters arrested was this unhinged ILWU guy, who threatened to beat up KGW reporters:
After the fine was dealt, longshoremen’s union bosses threatened to “do what we have to do” and ILWU vowed that “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.” All because a grain importer, EGT, chose a different union for 50 construction jobs on a $200 million grain terminal.
If you were paying attention, you also remember that this initial outbreak of violence and property destruction came right after the Labor Day incitement of Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa Jr., who agitated the crowd in Detroit for President Obama.
“President Obama, this is your army,” Hoffa bellowed. “We are ready to march. Let’s take these son of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong.”
On November 2, the Occupiers led by the Oakland contingent went after ports again. My column on the planned riots reminded you of the Bay Area Left’s violent Oakland port shutdown in 2003 and the ignominious Oakland agitator and strike leader Boots Riley — and connected the dots between Riley, Oakland’s Van Jones, Occupy Oakland, and the violent ILWU thugs and their supporters who kicked off the Day of Rage warm-up show in Longview, Washington in September. The Oakland shutdown was:
…an expression of “solidarity with longshore workers in their struggle” against grain importer EGT. In Longview, Washington, wildcat union workers cut train brake lines, smashed windows, dumped grain, and took hostages earlier this fall to protest the company’s decision to employ not non-union workers, but workers from a competing shop. A federal judge fined the ILWU $250,000 after it defied a court restraining order; even Obama’s National Labor Relations Board was forced to issue a complaint against the union’s “violent and aggressive” actions.
Big Labor has sent mixed public signals over whether it supports today’s coordinated shutdown. See this San Francisco Chronicle article for union leaders playing Hamlet for political viability’s sake.
But the Worker’s World website is crystal-clear on who inspired it, who’s behind it, and who’s providing the muscle:
Battle lines have formed as the West Coast Occupy movements, from San Diego to Alaska, flex their collective muscle against the federally coordinated, brutal attacks targeting the pro-Occupy Wall Street movements across the country. They are organizing for blockades of West Coast ports on Dec. 12 in San Diego; Los Angeles/Long Beach; Port Hueneme, Calif. (central coast); Oakland; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; Tacoma, Wash.; and possibly more. Solidarity actions have been called by OWS in New York and inland locations, as well.
The pro-OWS movement is aligning itself with labor and the working class, as the West Coast Occupy movements organize to support the struggle of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in Longview, Wash. Longshore workers there are waging a ferocious battle against transnational EGT, controlled by Bunge Ltd., of the grain cartel that controls most of the world’s trade in food products. EGT is trying to break the ILWU in an attempt to drive down wages and destroy the union. (Read “Longshore workers call for anti-racist unity in their ranks” at www.workers.org/2011/us/ilwu_0922)
The West Coast Occupy movements are also aligning with the struggle of port truckers, who are fighting for the right to organize for union representation. Twenty-six of them were fired in Los Angeles for wearing Teamster jackets to work. Occupy LA and Long Beach are targeting SSA, an anti-union port terminal operator, majority owned by Goldman Sachs, the notorious Wall Street investment bank. Teamster president, Jimmy Hoffa Jr., has publicly expressed support for the Occupy movement.
Michael Novick of Anti-Racist Action, one of the main organizers at Occupy LA working on the port shutdown action in Los Angeles, told WW that the strategy will be to shut down three main targets. Novick states, “When we put the resolution through at the General Assembly in support of the port shutdown, it was tied to building a general strike on May 1st of 2012 and building relations to the migrant rights movement.”
Finally, the West Coast Occupy movements are targeting the ports as major commercial centers, showing that they can strike at the institutions which help to aggregate the wealth of the 1 percent by disrupting Wall Street on the waterfront. It’s the history of the militant ILWU which enables this attack to have teeth. The ILWU rank and file have historically supported political struggles such as the anti-apartheid movement, the anti-war movement, in defense of Palestine in the face of attacks on Gaza, in support of the Wisconsin struggle against union busting, etc.
The 1 percent, under the banner of the Port of Oakland, launched the first volley of their assault on Dec. 4, with full-page ads in the San Francisco Chronicle and Oakland Tribune against the planned Occupy port blockade. They know all too well how powerful this movement has become, evidenced by the historic general strike call and blockade of the Port of Oakland on Nov. 2, when the Occupy movement, with the support of the ILWU rank and file and port truckers, shut down the entire port.
Who bears the costs? Small business owners, independent truck drivers, and taxpayers trying to make ends meet, of course:
The mobilization of over 60,000 people that shut down the Port of Oakland on Nov. 2 is being used by organizers as the model for the West Coast efforts this Monday.
However, some independent truckers at the Port of Oakland told the Huffington Post they were dismayed by the plan.
“It’s going to have a snowball negative effect. I depend on the port to feed my family. Why should I have to be put in a predicament because these people lack the skills to get a job?” said Vladimir Torres, an independent trucker who is based out of Long Beach, CA, and comes to the port of Oakland on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Torres is an owner-operator who said he would be dually affected because he works at two West Coast ports.
Josh Thomas, a spokesman for the Port of Portland, told the Columbian that 88% of the exporters who call the port home are small and medium-size businesses. “We see this as hurting working people,” Thomas said of the Occupy movement’s port initiative.
“We consider it no laughing matter when there’s a large group of people threatening to either block or enter the terminal,” Thomas said, “and we’d have to work closely with local law enforcement agencies and our own marine security officers and potentially (the U.S) Coast Guard, if it came to that.”
Way to go, Occupiers:
The Alameda County Building and Construction Trades Council’s secretary-treasurer, Andreas Cluver, said many of his union’s workers were recently hired at port building projects after long stretches on unemployment. Given that, a port shutdown aimed at punishing the 1 percent “makes no sense,” he said.
…Nearby, changing a tire on his rig before he also left with a load of paper, Hai Ngo 0f San Leandro said he resented the loss of income.
“The Occupy people handed out flyers to us, but never asked what we thought before they planned this,” Ngo said. “I will lose about $350, and at holiday time that hurts. It’s just a waste of our time and money, and won’t accomplish anything.”
The “battle” over power at the ports has been building for months. And the progressives are only going to escalate from here. From the socialists’ website:
EGT is planning to bring a huge grain ship to the Port of Longview, sometime in December or early January, to unload the grain piled up there with the use of scab labor. That isn’t going to happen without a major fight. Plans are in the works for phase two of this struggle. Caravans will be heading up to Longview to support the ILWU’s fight to keep their jobs and maintain their union…The battle is on!
Like they said: “It’s going to get worse before it gets better”…
Remember in November.
9:40am Eastern…The Oakland agitators are up bright and early. ABC News 7 in the Bay Area reports that trucks have already been stopped as hundreds descend.
Occupiers in Portland and Vancouver are already congregating. Occupy Los Angeles is tweet-whining about police brutality already, setting up for a telegraphed “extension” of the port shutdown. Anti-police/anti-captialist agitator Boots Riley is spearheading the Oakland shutdown.
Livestream of mob at Port of Los Angeles.
Flash mob at the NYC World Financial Center, where shutdown sympathizers are protesting Goldman Sachs.
A few sign-holders at Port of San Diego.
More livestreaming here.
Don’t buy the ILWU double-talk.
Update 10:41pm Eastern #OccupySeattle and #OccupyOakland shut down their ports. Disruptions in LA, San Diego, Houston, and elsewhere, according to Occupy flacks.
Occupiers vow to do it again tomorrow.
ILWU Local 21 official Dan Coffman calls in to praise the Occupiers in Oakland and reportedly declares “rebirth of the labor movement.”
Oakland thugs say they’ll try and block 3am shift.
In Portland, late word is that occupiers have helped shut down Schnitzer Steel, which a KXL news radio producer, Jim Ferretti, points out supplied food to the occupiers.
In Bellingham WA, the Occu-morons chained themselves together with bike locks and blocked trains. Arrests and photos here.
I leave you with this What The Hell image of the night. Click if you dare.