At some point in the next month, an empty ship will likely arrive at the small port of Longview, Washington on the Columbia River. It's owner's goal will be to have grain already in storage silos there loaded. But just before the ship arrives potentially thousands of the ninety-nine percent are going to show up to try to prevent that from happening.
Grain ship being loaded
The ILWU, which operates the ports up and down the West Coast, does not want that ship loaded because the workers who will be loading it are not members of the ILWU. The ILWU is unable to stop it themselves because they are under court injunction.
Vigorous, persistent protests fighting EGT's labor violations brought heavy fines to ILWU. And now longshoremen aren't allowed to protest the third-party scab workers EGT hired because all 50,000 longshore workers on the West Coast have an injunction against them. They are not to interfere in any way with grain transport by blocking trains or workers. They are only allowed up to sixteen pickets outside EGT's gates at any one time.
EGT, a subsidiary of multinational corporation Bunge, controls the grain and the ship, and are taking this step to begin to break the ILWU's control of West Coast ports.
Bill Proctor, a Longshore Union (ILWU) retiree, told Labor Notes in September "If that facility is allowed to go non-ILWU, other facilities will be tempted to follow suit...
In has stepped the Occupy Movement.
Part of the reason Occupy Oakland called for the West Coast Port Shutdown on December 12th, 2011 was to raise awareness about the struggle against EGT by the ILWU at Longview. Dan Coffman, President of ILWU Local 21 at Longview, has expressed his thanks to Occupy for focusing attention on his city and port:
On behalf of Local 21, we want to thank the occupy movement for shedding light on the practices of the EGT and for the inspiration of our members."
Now, Occupy Oakland, Occupy Portland, and Occupy Longview have come together to continue the fight. This following resolution, having already been passed by Occupy Portland and Occupy Longview, was passed with a single dissent by Occupy Oakland at Sunday's General Assembly. It calls for support of the Longshoremen, a community blockade, support from Occupies across the country, and mobilization elsewhere against EGT.Dan Coffman struggling with police in Longview
Resolution of the General Assemblies of Oakland, Portland and Longview
WHEREAS, Longshore workers' jurisdiction is under an unprecedented attack; and,
WHEREAS, West Coast dockworkers fought and died to establish that jurisdiction; and,
WHEREAS, Longshore workers have always been at the forefront in the struggle for social justice and better working conditions for all; and,
WHEREAS, Longshore workers have inspired working people across North America and around the world; and,
WHEREAS, EGT is engaged in a race-to-the-bottom that works to destroy a long history of good family wage jobs throughout the region and around the world; and,
WHEREAS, it is also known that Bunge, Ltd., a multinational conglomerate and majority shareholder of EGT, with direct ties to Wall Street, has used its power in the grain trade to manipulate global grain prices, to evade taxes in Argentina, to terrorize the people of the Amazon through deforestation, to force Brazilian workers into near slave conditions while their indigenous populations are starved out over soybean pricing, and to violate the Clean Air Act, among other offenses; and,
WHEREAS, Occupies Longview, Portland, and Oakland recognize the blatant union-busting tactics of EGT and its parent company Bunge, as well as its attack on the Longshore workers, who are powerful allies for workers around the world; and,
WHEREAS, according to Longshore workers the empty grain ship will be escorted by armed U.S. Coast Guard vessels and helicopters to the Port of Longview, Washington on the Columbia River; and,
WHEREAS, this is the first known use of the U.S. military to intervene in a labor dispute on the side of management in 40 years; and,
WHEREAS, the U.S. Armed Forces, which have been oppressing other nations for the interests of the 1%, is now being used against the same workers whose tax money sponsors those forces; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that Occupies Longview, Portland, and Oakland call on EGT to immediately cease its attacks on our communities, our food supply and the jurisdiction of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union; and be it further
RESOLVED, that Occupies Longview, Portland, and Oakland call on all Occupy General Assemblies, the working class, and the 99% everywhere to come to the aid of Longshore workers, and to support them in any way possible in their fight against the EGT and Bunge; and be it further
RESOLVED, that Occupies Longview, Portland, and Oakland request that anyone willing to participate in a community blockade of the first EGT grain ship in Longview, Washington, do so when alerted that the ship will arrive; and be it further
RESOLVED, that all General Assemblies, any group of their members, as well as workers around the world who cannot physically join the community blockade in Longview, Washington, mobilize in solidarity through direct action in their communities -- especially those located in the Midwest, the Delta, Occupies along the Mississippi River, and all other international locations where Bunge's growth and operations are located, and be it further
RESOLVED, that General Assemblies across the country and the mobilized 99% across the globe condem any state or private-sponsored efforts to arrest direct action against EGT, or workers participating in those actions; and be it further
RESOLVED, that General Assemblies challenge any charges brought against workers or comrades struggling for economic, social, and envrionmental justice; and finally be it
RESOLVED, that Occupies Longview, Portland, and Oakland forward this resolution to all Occupy General Assemblies, the working people of the 99% in their communities, and comrades in the Occupy Movement around the world.
Occupy Longview, Occupy Portland, and Occupy Oakland
Information, Articles, and Statements of Labor Support.
- Main website.
- Call for Action at Longview Port by Cowlitz-Whakiakum Labor Council: KBOO FM
- Solidarity Letter to ILWU from Washington Teamsters Local
- Bunge: How the Soybean Industrial Complex is Killing People for Profit
- Resolution from International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council #5
- San Francisco Labor Council Condemns Use of U.S. Military to Escort Scab Grain Ship in Longview WA
- Labor for Palestine: Support the Longview Caravan!
- A Call to Action From the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum (Washington) Central Labor Council
- Occupy Longview's call for solidarity
If you are anywhere in the area of Washington, Oregon or Northern California, you can join the action or no matter where you are you could help finance it.
Sign up for the Longview Caravan
ILWU rank and file and Occupies in Longview and along the West Coast are organizing to blockade a grain ship coming to Longview. This ship is supposed to load cargo from the EGT terminal using scab labor. The exact date will not be known until 3-4 days in advance, but is expected to be sometime in mid-January. You will be contacted as soon as caravan organizers receive word from Longview that the ship is on its way.