By Dave Welsh
Published Dec 3, 2011 10:31 AM
Organizing is under way for a coordinated mass blockade of West Coast ports on Monday, Dec. 12, targeting “Wall Street on the waterfront” — the major companies owned and controlled by “the 1 percent” ruling elite.
Initiated by Occupy Oakland, the Dec. 12 West Coast port shutdown is being jointly organized by Occupy movements in Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and other ports along the coast. The multiport shutdown has three main objectives:
1) Solidarity with longshore workers in Longview, Wash., who are facing vicious police and state repression in their struggle to preserve the union there. These workers are fighting a union-busting transnational combine called EGT that is 51 percent owned by Bunge Ltd. — part of the Wall Street-backed grain cartel that controls most of the world’s trade in food products. EGT has hired scabs to break the jurisdiction of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in an attempt to drive down the price of labor on the docks and destroy the union.
2) Solidarity with independent truckers and other workers in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, targeting SSA, an anti-union port terminal operator majority owned by Goldman Sachs, the notorious Wall Street investment bank.
3) In response to the brutal, nationally coordinated police attacks on the Occupy movement organized by the 1 percent and their agents in government. “Now we will strike back,” read an Occupy Oakland statement, “with our own coordinated attack on the 1 percent —
a West Coast port blockade and shutdown on Dec. 12th to economically disrupt Wall Street on the waterfront.”
The West Coast Occupy movements are taking inspiration from the general strike and port blockade in Oakland on Nov. 2 when 30,000 people marched into the port and shut it down. No cargo was loaded or unloaded on the evening shift. Ships at dock lay idle, as ILWU rank-and-file workers, following the great traditions of their union, honored the picket lines at every terminal.
‘New wing of the labor movement’
Occupy Seattle gave some reasons why they are participating on Dec. 12: “We are inspired by longshore workers’ direct actions against EGT, we are angered by the repression they are facing by the cops and courts, and we know that if the 1 percent busts the ILWU they will try to drive down all of our wages and working conditions next. ...
“Many of us are the 89 percent of U.S. workers who are not in unions … who are unemployed, underemployed, students, houseless,” continued the Occupy Seattle statement. “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. … Dec. 12 is the first of many actions that Occupy will take as a new wing of the labor movement.”
‘The 1 percent use police to silence the 99 percent’
Occupy LA explained that “the 1 percent are depriving port truckers and other workers of decent pay, working conditions and the right to organize. … The
1 percent pursued a conscious policy of deindustrialization, resulting in trade at the port being seven containers coming in for every one container going out. They have driven migrant workers into a superexploited gray market economy. … The
1 percent use police brutality and repression, jails and prisons to suppress, divide and try to silence the 99 percent and all who oppose their insatiable greed.
“To put an end to all that,” read the Occupy LA statement, “we call on the
99 percent to boycott and occupy the port on Dec. 12 for full legalization [of immigrant families], good jobs for all, equality and justice. Port drivers and other workers have the power to push forward the kind of change we need.” Occupy LA also voted to build for a general strike they are calling to take place on May 1, 2012.
The first flyer for Dec. 12 conveyed the boldness and fighting spirit of this young movement. It read: “Shut the West Coast down! Together we are unstoppable!” For more information, visit www.westcoastportshutdown.org.