Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Mobilize all of Labor to Defend Longshoremen

Obama/Solis/Government hands off the ILA!

Smash Taft-Hartley strike-breaking through

all-out working class struggle!

ILA/ILWU unite to shut down the ports on all three coasts!

The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) has been in negotiations with the USMX (United States Maritime Alliance) bosses for the last several months. No contract agreement has been reached yet, but the ILA leaders have agreed to a contract extension until February 6th, thus averting a strike for the moment. As negotiations drag on, a February 6th strike is a possibility. On the West Coast, the International Longshoremen’s and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in Portland is also under attack by the bosses. There has been saber-rattling in both struggles by the bosses and their supporters. More than 100 business owners, along with Florida Gov. Rick Scott have called for Obama to impose Taft-Hartley strike-breaking. On the West Coast, Obama’s Coast Guard has been deployed for the express purpose of escorting any scab ships if it comes down to a strike or lockout, while private security strikebreakers stand in the wings.

Instead of mobilizing support for these struggles, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka had all his energies focused on the fiscal cliff; propping up the Democrats and beating up on the Republicans, and in the process, not even denouncing Obama and Pelosi outright over their proposed chained CPI Social Security cost of living increase calculation (which was eventually withdrawn at least for the time being.) The fiscal cliff doom was a lot of hype to divert and scare workers while lining the pockets of corporations by protected enshrined tax dodges as the ruling class promises to go after past social gains like Social Security and Medicare in the run up to March 1st debt ceiling deadline. One other thing is real though; the working class and the oppressed are being led off a cliff by the Democratic Party sellout union tops that are unwilling to do what is necessary to defend our unions or to defend even the minimal remaining social safety net that is under attack.

The miserable fiscal cliff deal pleases no one except Grover Norquist. Obama January 1st spin was that he carried out his campaign promises to avoid unnecessary cuts to social services. However, the fiscal cliff deal is only temporary, until the automatic spending cuts take effect in March unless a new deal is reached. The State Federation and Central Labor Council layers of the AFL-CIO bureaucracy will all fall into line behind Trumka and the Democrats even as they catch fire from the rank-and-file members who are being left high and dry by this largely one-sided class war against the working class and the oppressed. And now in the direct line of fire are the Longshoremen.

To the misleaders of the AFL-CIO and Change to Win labor federations must be added the reformists of the Workers World Party and the Southern Workers Assembly who are distributing an online petition to ask Obama to abstain from imposing strikebreaking Taft-Hartley provisions on the ILA. This petition is couched in the language of disappointed Democrats not that of militant trade unionists who understand where the class line lies. This online petition came our way from Occupy Oakland Labor Solidarity and we can only hope that they have better plans for supporting the Longshore struggle and opposing government strikebreaking.

For their part, the ILA bureaucracy already has plans to conduct a potential strike with one hand tied. Their strike preparations include instructions to handle perishable goods, military cargo, automobiles, non-containerized cargo and mail. This is nonsense. Shut down the ports tight, all the cargo and all the ports!

Both the ILA struggle on the East and Gulf Coasts, and the ILWU on the West Coast are key labor battles by unions that wield enormous power and that have traditions of labor militancy. In the wake of the defeat of labor in Michigan, once a bastion of organized labor, we cannot afford many more defeats. It is time to fight! United ILA/ILWU struggle that shuts down the ports with the backing of much of the rest of organized labor and the oppressed could not only stop the string of working class defeats, but could also be mobilized to fight the attacks on social welfare.

It was the ILWU which hot-cargoed goods from South Africa during the apartheid regime, ILWU locals 10 & 19 supported the immigrant worker led May 1st Great American Boycott where Latino labor coast to coast went into the streets and reminded the American worker what May 1st is about. The ILWU local 10 initiated a political strike against racist police repression and the murder of Oscar Grant in Oakland, CA. It is reasonable to expect and correct to call upon the port communities of the oppressed to support and defend Longshore labor Action. It is correct to see Longshore labor action as a form of your own self defense.

The Communist Workers Group (CWG) encourages workers to keep a close eye on the ILA struggle along with that of the West Coast ILWU. Bring these struggles to your union and community and spread the word! An injury to one is an injury to all! Mobilize all-out support for the Longshoremen on all the coasts!

CWG January 6, 2013

reblogged from cwgusa


No comments: