Dan Kaufman, president of Longview Local 19 in solidarity with Occupy Oakland’s shut down of the port on Nov 2nd in solidarity with Longview port workers fighting against union busting.
In Seattle December 12, we are organizing to shut down the port as part of a West Coast port shutdown. This is the statement that members of Decolonize/Occupy Seattle wrote to express the reasons why we do this. It can also be reached here.
Why shut down the port?
1) We will shut down the port to resist the budget cuts that target working class people.
The 1% are confident they can cut our health care, education, food aid, and social services because they think we won’t fight back. They are wrong. If they cut our safety net to pieces, we will cut their profits. The port is a major source of profits for the 1%, especially during the holiday season when they ship goods produced by Asian workers under horrible labor conditions to American malls where increasingly broke workers buy holiday presents on credit, worried about whether we will lose our jobs, food stamps, or health care. We are tired of worrying, so now we are fighting back. A port shutdown will hit the 1% directly in their wallets. Happy Holidays you scrooges.
2) We will shut down the port to bypass the corporate-controlled politicians and confront the 1% who really call the shots.
In December, some members of Occupy Seattle will be occupying the Capitol building; the rest of us here in Seattle will occupy capital: the port facilities of transnational corporations. Together, we fight against the same cuts.
Capital means the machines, trucks, ships, stores, cafes, hospitals, etc. – all the things the corporations own, which we work on to make their profits. One of their biggest pieces of capital is the port of Seattle. We know the 1% controls the politicians who are cutting the working class’s standard of living. So instead of begging politicians to stop cutting us, we’ll do what our friends did when they occupied Wall Street and go straight to the source of the problem: the capitalists. The ports are Wall Street on the waterfront – without them running, Wall Street makes no profits. If they cut our livelihoods, we will cut their profits.
3) We will shut down the port to defend workers’ right to organize.
We assert that the Occupy movement is part of the workers’ movement.
Goldman Sachs is the 1% of the 1%. They control a majority share of Stevedore Services of America (SSA), a major player in the port of Seattle. SSA is repressing immigrant port truckers who are trying to organize in their workplace in the port of LA, which is why Occupy LA put out the call for solidarity picket lines at ports up and down the West Coast on December 12th. Port truckers in Seattle are also face low pay, discrimination, unpaid time wasted at entry gates, etc., and we are in solidarity with them.
By building this solidarity, Occupy Seattle will show that we also are part of the workers’ movement. Because the 1% uses repressive labor laws and union busting firms to disrupt organizing efforts, only 11% of US workers are organized into labor unions. On December 12th, Occupy Seattle will take a stand to defend our right to organize on the job. We also recognize that the U.S. working class is starting to get organized in the Occupy movement, which makes us part of the workers’ movement. Many who are involved in the Occupy movement are members of unions. Many of us also make up the remaining 89% of U.S. workers who are not in unions, as well as the large sections of the U.S. working class who are unemployed, underemployed, students, and homeless. Our picket lines might not have the same legal standing as official union picket lines, but when the unions first started picketing back in the day they were also considered illegitimate. Occupy Seattle’s picket lines are still picket lines organized by working class people, in solidarity with fellow workers. December 12th is the first of many actions that Occupy will take as a new wing of the workers’ movement.
4) We will shut down the port in response to the police violence and harassment the Occupy movement has faced worldwide.
The 1% uses union busting tactics to shut down our organizing on the job and their cops use pepper spray, batons, and handcuffs to repress our organizing in the streets and plazas. We know that if the 1% wanted to, they could tell the police to stop all this repression. But they are apparently not embarrassed when global media broadcasts images of veteran Scott Olson with his head smashed in, or 84-year-old Dorli Rainey with her face full of pepper spray. They didn’t care when their cops kicked Jennifer Fox in the stomach, after which she miscarried. They didn’t care when their cops and security guards murdered Oscar Grant, John T. Williams, Jesus Mejia or Aiyana Jones. And in Egypt, the US-backed military regime has killed dozens of revolutionaries
and injured thousands since November 19 alone. They have called on the American Occupy movement to stand with them in solidarity.
The global 1% does not care about this state violence as long as their goods get shipped and their profits flow. On Nov 2nd, Occupy Oakland shut down the port of Oakland in response to the police violence they faced. On Dec. 12th we will do the same up and down the coast. Let’s show the forces of repression that when they stomp the flames of freedom they just spread the embers.
5) We will send a warning to EGT, the multinational conglomerate that is trying to bust the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).
EGT Development is refusing to honor the ILWU’s contract in Longview, WA, and we wish to stand in solidarity with the ILWU in their struggle against this union busting. Our action is independent from the ILWU; we are in no way attempting to co-opt or control their struggle and they are not controlling us. However, we are inspired by Longshore workers’ direct actions against EGT, and we are angered by the repression they are facing by the cops and courts, which is similar to the repression we are facing. We know that if the 1% busts the ILWU they will try to drive down all of our wages and working conditions next. We hope our action on the 12th will show EGT that we are capable of disrupting business. They should honor the ILWU’s contract because next time it could be their business.
Our decision to picket/ blockade the port is not deterred by the recent memo written by International ILWU President, Robert McEllrath, and quoted by the Longshore and Shipping News. We agree with the statement that the Occupy Oakland Port Blockade working group put out regarding our movement’s relations with the ILWU: http://westcoastportshutdown.org/content/clarification-nature-call-west-coast-port-blockade
In particular, we’d like to highlight that ILWU Local 21, Longview, Washington, was strongly heartened and encouraged by the overwhelming support shown for them by the historic November 2 port shutdown in Oakland. Their local president spoke at Oakland Occupy’s rally last Saturday, thanking us for our support. He and other ILWU rank and file members marched with us that day.” In particular, local 21 president Dan Kaufman said:
”When Nov 2nd happened, and it was against EGT in respect to the ILWU and Local 21, you cannot believe what you people did for the inspiration of my union members who have been on the picket line for six months now!”
For video footage of this, see: ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtdQCZSQ99I )
We’d also like to highlight that: “The ILWU rank and file have historically honored community picket lines in the port — for example they refused to cross community picket lines to unload cargo from apartheid South Africa.” They honored the community picket line set up by Occupy Oakland on Nov 2nd, and the ILWU Coast Committee cautioned its members that if a similar situation develops on Dec. 12, longshoremen should “stand in a safe area and await a decision by employers to call for an arbitrator.” This is similar to past situations where ILWU members have honored community picket lines. It allows the ILWU a legal out, not to cross the lines, if the picket lines are large enough to pose a threat to their safety, as interpreted by the arbitrator.
We aim to build trust and open communication between the Occupy movement and port workers.
6) We will shut down the port as part of the second phase of our movement
With this Dec. 12th action, the Occupy movement is undertaking a transformation. When we started occupying Seattle Central Community College, many people told us, “don’t disrupt life for the 99%, go disrupt it for the 1%.” They said the same thing when we joined labor unions to occupy a bridge on Nov 17th. These criticisms missed the fact that our camps have enhanced life for the 99% by providing educational opportunities, food, and shelter, and have stood as a visible reminder of the need for deeper social change. We agree though that we should be disrupting the 1% more. That’s why we’re occupying the port, as well as abandoned buildings owned by banks, wealthy developers, etc.
We will occupy everything.
We believe everyone deserves the rights to housing, education, food and safety.
We believe our lives are worth more than our labor power.
We believe our community members should not die under the harsh rule of the 1%. We are simply laying claim to what has always been ours.
Everything for everyone.
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