- json version
- email this article
- view hidden posts
- tags and related articles
by Mark Vorpahl
Wednesday, Jan. 09, 2013 at 3:51 PM
Part I -
It’s a familiar pattern: those on top of the economic ladder enjoy massive profits, while expecting workers to sacrifice even more for the “greater good.”
This storyline weaves itself into every justification for anti-worker policies. From Washington’s potential Grand Bargain that would cut trillions from needed social programs, to the workplaces with their stagnating wages and declining benefits, those on top plead poverty to workers while stuffing their pockets beyond belief.
The argument is also currently being repeated by the giant multinational corporations that control the nation’s shipping ports.
Fortunately, the Longshore workers are organized into powerful unions that have the ability to fight back against big business greed — something that was recently demonstrated at the port strikes in Los Angles and Long Beach, and which is now underway in the union negotiations happening at ports along the East Coast and at the ports in the Northwest.
Victory in Southern California
An impressive victory was achieved in Los Angeles last month as a result of an eight-day strike by the 800 members of the Office Clerical Unit of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 63.
For two years the workers had been without a contract as a result of stalling by the Harbor Employer Association. The main issue on the table was job security: the employers were hiring more nonunion superintendents through attrition, outsourcing work to nonunion contractors elsewhere in the U.S. and overseas, and finding ways to get fewer employees to perform more work. The members of ILWU Local 63 wanted to put a halt to this not only to preserve their own jobs, but to have these jobs available for future generations.
After two years at the bargaining table, it became clear that the Harbor Employer Association was unwilling to move on the union’s issues. The membership was left with no choice but to strike. And it was Longshore solidarity that won the day.
Ten thousand dockworkers refused to cross Local 63′s picket line, leaving 10 of the 14 ports at Los Angeles and Long Beach at a standstill and $760 million a day of merchandise untouched.
The strike made the impact it needed to; suddenly, the Harbor Employer Association discovered that they were able to make more movement on the union’s demands in a few days than they had for the previous two years.
After eight days on strike, a tentative agreement was reached and later ratified by membership vote. The Harbor Employer Association’s attempts to outsource, at the cost of future working class jobs, hit an unmovable obstacle, resulting in a victory that demonstrates how taking collective action to shut down production can win.
Developments on the East Coast
On the East Coast, a different Longshore union is facing its own difficulties. The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) represents 15,000 union dockworkers at 14 ports from Maine to Texas. These ports handle 40 percent of all U.S. container cargo. The ILA is in negotiations with the United States Maritime Alliance Ltd. (USMX), an alliance of container carriers, direct employers, and port associates.
It has been 35 years since the ILA went out on strike. And at the end of December, it looked likely that this stretch was up. Dec. 29 was the final day of extended contract negotiations and the membership was ready to grab their picket signs.
The main point of contention was container royalties, a decades-old fee of $4.85 per ton of container cargo paid to the ILA membership. This is a significant amount of income that the workers take in. USMX insisted on reinstating a cap on this fee that the ILA had successfully fought to remove in the last two-year contract.
In an e-mail an ILA spokesman said the following:
We let USMX defer $42 million of container royalty money to help pay for the $1.00 an hour increase that was due longshore workers — we, in essence, paid for our own raise — and now USMX wants the CAP back on. They got the benefit and now they want us to go backwards.
On Dec. 28, ILA President Harold J. Daggett sent out a public announcement stating:
I am pleased to announce that the ILA made major gains on the Container Royalty issue that will protect our ILA members. Consequently, we agreed to extend the ILA Master Contract by 30 days, beyond the December 29th deadline (because of the year-end holidays, the deadline of the new extension will be February 6, 2013).
What these major gains are remains unclear, and George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service is demanding that all parties keep their lips tight for now. Consequently, there is no telling how the next few weeks of negotiations will go.
The ILA membership does not have any reason to stand down from strike preparations. The moment for decision will come when the membership has a tentative agreement in their hands and has a chance to read the fine print, collectively discuss it and vote.
The only certainty is that they are more likely to get a good contract and avoid a strike if they are prepared to go on a strike that will choke USMX’s profit flow off.
Report this post as:
Mormon Perspective on #BundyRanch, U.S. Federal Government, and Divinity of Constitution
Livestreamer @PMBeers interviews Bundy Ranch supporters during BLM stand-off
Will Hundreds of Years of Contract Law be Eradicated in Santa Ana Court?
Los Angeles Joins Nationwide March Against Mainstream Media #MAMSM
Has KPFK's GM Duncan just dis-appeared?
Michael Ruppert dead.
Pacifica voting in secret with no accountability? Is this part of KPFK ?
Kassim Alhimidi convicted of murder
Members of Bundy Family Explain Bundy Ranch Stand-Off With Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
Here's some interesting privatization connections in regards to the LAUSD District 1 race
Rock, Rap & Speakout vs Poverty, Prisons & War
Report Back: 4th Annual Hahamongna Walkabout
Pacifica Exe Director position is in confusion still putting KPFK at risk
Bernard Duncan, prior GM of KPFK is still in play
San Diego May Dai Workers Film Festival
Southern California Joins Worldwide Wave Of Action
Pacifica board members named here, who attempted ousting ED
LA Weekly promotes a slanted view of Pacifica/ KPFK
More Info about Pacifica, which holds KPFK's license, etc.
Listen to KPFK's staff talking to Pacifica Exe Director
Pacifica IS also KPFK, so let's not ignore what going on
Reported excerpts of Pacifica's - and that's KPFK's - incidents happening - update
Repost from Counterpunch re Pacifica - KPFK too involved
Forever intertwined: KPFK, WBAI, Gary Null ?
Why is KPFK still failing to thrive ?
GLOBAL DAY of ACTION for the Indonesian Rainforests!
Opponents of SB County Jail's Letter Ban to Share Progress, Next Steps
More Local News...
Crushing defeat for BDS at San Diego State University
Kiev Declares War
Israel Wants Temple Mount Control
American Oligarchs: Thieving Koch Brothers
Well, the #MyNYPD hashtag sure backfired quickly
US Threatens Russia
Outrageous Pro-Kiev Op-Ed
Propaganda alert: US and UN object to the holding of presidential elections in Syria
Cold War 2.0
Marwan Barghouti on Sham Peace Talks
F*ck One Democratic state
Uranium Madhouse unleashes The Duchess of Malfi in Hollywood
Major BDS Donor Owned Shares of Caterpillar While Campaigning for Divestment
There Is A Petition For Single Payer Health Insurance
Proposal: Piketty and Saez Meme Project
The Great Shakespeare On Animal And Plant Rights
The Earth a Common Treasury for All
Kiev Breaks Easter Truce
Unacceptable State-Sponsored Murder
"Believing without Seeing"
Trolling ...what is that ?
Canada Targets Russia
Russia Bashing Continues
Koch Brothers-Style Free Society
Arythmie du capital
More Breaking News...