Monday, December 12, 2011

ILWU and Occupy Oakland's call for a one-day shutdown of West Coast ports today (Corrected)

I have to agree with Laura Clawson about this one: Occupy Oakland attempting port shutdown despite union opposition Daily Kos 12/12/2011.

The Occupy Oakland group is pushing for a one-day strike at all West Coast ports on Tuesday today, December 12, even though the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) opposes it. The key to their remarkable success in the one-day general strike call in November was the participation of ILWU members by walking off work at the port. Technically, it was a wildcat action because it was not formally called by the ILWU. But Clawson is undoubtedly right in saying that the ILWU "tacitly supported" the November action.

If the organizers of this action don't have some very firm agreement, formal or otherwise, with the ILWU to do a strike, it's very unlikely to work. Not a smart move, from what I can see. We'll see what happens tomorrow today.

ILWU president President Robert McEllrath addressed the strike call in a 12/06/2011 letter: Message from Pres. McEllrath: We share Occupy’s concerns about America, but EGT battle is complicated:

The fact is that the story of corporate greed and its impact on the working class is the story of the 99%, and, of course, this reality connects us all. ...

Most recently, groups directly connected to the Occupy movement and other loosely affiliated social media groups have called for the shutdown of certain terminals and the West Coast ports. At the same time, these groups seek to link these shutdowns to the ILWU’s labor dispute with employer EGT. None of this is sanctioned by the membership of the ILWU or informed by the local and International leadership. Simply put, there has been no communication with the leadership and no vote within the ILWU ranks on EGT associated Occupy actions.

Further, since our November 22, 2011 press release clarifying our position regarding third-party protests to occupy West Coast ports on December 12, 2011, we have been the subject of much criticism from individuals affiliated with the Occupy movement. This is shortsighted and only serves the 1%. We ask only that our internal process be respected and that whatever transpires not be in our name as we have not taken part in the call for that action.
Reading between the lines of McEllrath's statement, he may be concerned that some well-organized left-wing sect is using the Occupy movement as a cover to get political influence in the ILWU. I'm just guessing there. But small, sectarian leftwing groups operate that way. Typically, if they do get control of a successful independent activist group of some kind, they effectively destroy it but use its reputation for a while to recruit members into their main organization. And a genuine mass movement like Occupy attracts such groups like flies to honey.

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