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by Josef Schneider
Sunday, Aug. 19, 2001 at 9:29 AM
One of the organizers of the Portland picket of the Italian cargo ship the Cielo di San Francisco explains who was affected by that action and why they chose that target.
The Cielo di San Francisco is German-owned and its crew is German. Because they have a strong merchant seaman’s Union and much better (compared to the US) labor laws in Germany, the crew has good working conditions, wages, and time off. None of this is relevant to Wednesday’s action.
Who cares if UPS leases or owns its delivery trucks? I once worked loading them, and I don’t even know which is the case. Ownership of the vehicles was not an issue in the UPS strike, and it wasn’t at Terminal 6 either.
The ship is leased and operated by the Italia Lines, a subsidiary of d’Amico Compagnia di Navigazione (chairman and principal investor Antonio d’Amico). Painted on the side of the ship, in letters 20 feet high is “Italia Lines.” The line leases the boat to ship goods from port to port. That is how they make money. Any increase in the operating costs in a voyage will be bourne by the Italia Lines, not the ship owner, not the crew.
A delay in port increases costs to the line, and may also cause any future owners of cargo to be shipped to the Northwest to question the reliability of the Italia Lines.
I would be amazed if the terms of the lease of the Cielo di San Francisco allowed the Italia Lines to pass on costs of delay to the ship owner. That would be unheard-of. The owner of the Cielo di San Francisco was not hurt by this action.
The crew gets paid anyway, and they got an extra day in port, which is something that a seaman welcomes, especially in Portland. Essentially the crew got a paid holiday out of it.
The ILWU longshoremen did not lose work. They unloaded the boat anyway, Wednesday night and Thursday day instead of Wednesday day and night. This change might have inconvenienced some longshoreman or caused a few to miss a shift because of a previous engagement on their calendar for Thursday, for that I’m sorry. If we had done a better job of turnout, the Port Arbitrator would have awarded the Longshoremen who honored our picket line a day's pay because we constituted a safety risk. I wish we could have done that.
Who does that leave? The Italia Lines and Antonio d’Amico lost money because of their support for Silvio Berlusconi and his Fuerza Italia ruling coalition. Too fucking bad.
As Walden Bello, executive director of Focus on the Global South in Bangkok, said at an event in Melbourne last September during the meetings of the World Economic Forum there,
“[Italian marxian thinker and victim of Mussolini, Antonio] Gramsci once described the bureaucracy as but an ‘outer trench behind which lay a powerful system of fortresses and earthworks.’ We must no longer think simply in terms of neutralizing the multilateral agencies that form the outer trenches of the system but of disabling the transnational corporations that are fortresses and the earthworks that constitute the core of the global economic system. I am talking about disabling not just the WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank but the transnational corporation itself. And I am not talking about a process of ‘reregulating’ the TNCs but of eventually disabling or dismantling them as fundamental hazards to people, society, the environment, to everything we hold dear.”
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