Authors note: Today is Part II of a series of three diaries I am writing about the West Coast port shut down. Part I was posted on Wednesday Occupy Seattle - Why We Shut Down The Port Part I and on Sunday I will write about the police brutality that has been used against those of us who participate in the occupy movements
A press release from Occupy Oakland has laid the ground work for all of us who are organizing to explain our reasons for participating in this day of action.
"We're shutting down these ports because of the union busting and attacks on the working class by the 1%: the firing of Port truckers organizing at SSA terminals in LA; the attempt to rupture ILWU union jurisdiction in Longview, WA by EGT. EGT includes Bunge LTD, a company which reported 2.5 billion dollars in profit last year and has economically devastated poor people in Argentina and Brazil. SSA is responsible for inhumane working conditions and gross exploitation of port truckers and is owned by Goldman Sachs. EGT and Goldman Sachs is Wallstreet on the Waterfront," stated Barucha Peller of the West Coast Port Blockade Assembly of Occupy Oakland.
Wall Street on the waterfront - Stevedoring Services of America (SSA)
Truck drivers at the Port of LA/Long Beach have been attempting to organize into the Teamsters so they can demand better wages and benefits. Currently, the drivers are considered independent contractors (and they are mostly immigrants). These "contractors" haul containers to warehouses and other points of desitnation. Their attempts to organize have been met with extreme harassment, including the termination of 26 truckers for wearing Teamster jackets to work.
The Occupy movements in LA and Long beach are targeting SSA, and they have a great "We are the 99%" reason for doing so:
Occupy LA and Long Beach are targeting SSA, an anti-union port terminal operator, majority owned by Goldman Sachs, the notorious Wall Street investment bank. Teamster president, Jimmy Hoffa Jr., has publicly expressed support for the Occupy movement.
That's right - Goldman Sachs.
It would be hard to find a more worthy target for the Occupy movement than Goldman Sachs. GS is widely recognized as a key player in the financial collapse of, well, just about every damn thing in our economy, tied to every big player in our government, and fairly well exposed for their wrongdoings.
Matt Taibbi has (in my opinion) been the most masterful source of Goldman Sachs smack down that is accessible and easily understood by most readers. I think a collection of his finest works is in order here.
In what has now become a famous image and phrase associated with GS, Taibbi coins the phrase "The Vampire Squid":
The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who's Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.
By now, most of us know the major players. As George Bush's last Treasury secretary, former Goldman CEO Henry Paulson was the architect of the bailout, a suspiciously self-serving plan to funnel trillions of Your Dollars to a handful of his old friends on Wall Street. Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton's former Treasury secretary, spent 26 years at Goldman before becoming chairman of Citigroup — which in turn got a $300 billion taxpayer bailout from Paulson. There's John Thain, the asshole chief of Merrill Lynch who bought an $87,000 area rug for his office as his company was imploding; a former Goldman banker, Thain enjoyed a multi-billion-dollar handout from Paulson, who used billions in taxpayer funds to help Bank of America rescue Thain's sorry company. And Robert Steel, the former Goldmanite head of Wachovia, scored himself and his fellow executives $225 million in golden-parachute payments as his bank was self-destructing. There's Joshua Bolten, Bush's chief of staff during the bailout, and Mark Patterson, the current Treasury chief of staff, who was a Goldman lobbyist just a year ago, and Ed Liddy, the former Goldman director whom Paulson put in charge of bailed-out insurance giant AIG, which forked over $13 billion to Goldman after Liddy came on board. The heads of the Canadian and Italian national banks are Goldman alums, as is the head of the World Bank, the head of the New York Stock Exchange, the last two heads of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — which, incidentally, is now in charge of overseeing Goldman — not to mention …
In this article, Taibbi explains how the SEC case against GS barely scratches the surface:
On the day the Securities and Exchange Commission filed suit against Goldman Sachs for securities fraud, shares in the company plunged 12.8 percent, closing at $160.70. The market, it seemed, was finally passing judgment on a decade of high-stakes Wall Street scammery that left America threatening Nigeria, Indonesia and Belarus on the list of the world's most corrupt economies.
A few days later, Goldman announced its first-quarter numbers. Profits were up 91 percent, to a staggering $3.4 billion.
Compensation and bonuses soared to $5.5 billion, up from $4.7 billion in the first quarter of 2009. Battered in the press, Goldman was raking up on the bottom line. So investors once again leapt into Goldman's arms, pushing the stock as high as $166.50, not far from where it was even before news of the SEC suit broke.
Taibbi explains how The People vs. Goldman Sachs is being prosecuted in the media and not the courts:
They weren't murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.
Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn't leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial.
Despite the staggering amount of evidence against them, Goldman Sachs is still very much a key player in our financial industry. They have been allowed to break the law with impunity due to their close ties with our government, the most significant tie being the fact that the US Secretary of the Treasury from 2006-2009 (nice timing), Henry Paulson, was the CEO of Goldman Sachs 1999-2006. I don't see how anyone could look at the fact that the CEO of Goldman Sachs went straight into the Treasury and presided over the financial interests of this country during the time of big bailouts and our financial collapse and not say "what the hell people - where are the prison terms for this???"
But those calls have been made and obviously nothing will be done because the ruling class always protects their own. They have been in on this from the beginning, and our situation today is of no concern to them.
So, we shut down the port. Hopefully this is the first in a series of direct warning shots to the 1% of this country. We are mad as hell, and we aren't going to take it anymore.