FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Organized Labor’s Great Day at Longview

Yesterday, September 8, a group of longshoremen estimated at between 500-1,000, all members of the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union), stormed the gates a Longview grain terminal (located in southwestern Washington state) to protest the company’s (EGT Development) anti-union policies.  The ILWU insists that the EGT contract, along with the provisions of the Northwest Grainhandlers Agreement, guarantee ILWU representation.

After overwhelming Longview’s security guards, the longshoremen allegedly dumped grain, broke the windows of the guard shack, and severed the brake lines of several railroad cars.  Police were called in and 19 arrests were made.  Meanwhile, dockworkers in Seattle, Tacoma and Everett walked off their jobs in support of the Longview action.

According to labor activists, EGT Development—a joint American-Japanese-South Korean company—had received tax breaks and other perks in return for promising to create well-paying union jobs at the $200 million grain terminal.  Despite the workers having a contract with the Port of Longview guaranteeing that only ILWU members be hired for work on the docks, EGT attempted to renege on the agreement.  Initially, in fact, they had the nerve to declare that they intended to hire only non-union workers (at lower wages and benefits) to fill the positions.

But following ILWU protests earlier this year, EGT backed down and reversed themselves.  They said they wouldn’t be using non-union workers after all.  A good first step.  But rather than honor the prior agreement and hire only ILWU members, they stunned everyone by announcing that they would be hiring members of the IUOE (International Union of Operating Engineers) instead.

Although EGT management and the herd-mentality media are attempting to make this thing appear as a thuggish, internecine battle, an old-fashioned power play between rival unions, the issue boils down to two things.  For one, a deal is a deal, and EGT needs to honor the agreement the Port of Longview made with the ILWU.

For another, and not to point fingers, but the IUOE—in contrast to the formidable and truculent ILWU—is not known for putting up much of a fight, which is why EGT, after attempting to fill the positions with non-union personnel, wisely chose the Operating Engineers as the union they wanted to do business with.

The Longshoremen are understandably outraged.  Besides the prospect of losing jobs that were promised to them, the ILWU is fearful of the long-term effects this audacious end-run could have.  They fear that EGT will break the relatively weak IUOE (Local 701), and that after busting this union and coming away perceived as the victor (a la Ronald Reagan with PATCO), they will move against the ILWU, undermining contracts up and down the west coast.

Although a preliminary injunction was issued late yesterday by U.S. District judge Ronald Leighton, as of this writing the dockworkers are still protesting at ports in the northwest.  The Longview dispute obviously has a ways to go before it gets sorted out, but no matter what the eventual outcome, these brave ILWU members have breathed life into the labor movement.  One can only hope that their actions will inspire union members in other industries to assert themselves as well.

And as for those upright, uptight citizens who will condemn the Longview demonstration as “lawless” or “renegade,” they need to recalibrate.  They need to see this thing for what it is.  The Longview uprising is self-determination personified.  It’s American, it’s patriotic, it’s grassroots, and its antecedents can be traced back to the Boston Tea Party.  The real Boston Tea Party.  Indeed, Longview is what the so-called Tea Party movement wishes it were.

David Macaray, a Los Angeles playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former union rep.  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

 


More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

June 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Divest From the Business of Incarceration
W. T. Whitney
Angola in Louisiana: Proving Ground for Racialized Capitalism
Susan Babbitt
Assange and Truth: the Deeper (Harder) Issue
Kenn Orphan
Humanity vs. the Rule of Law
Mateo Pimentel
Why on Earth a Country of Laws and Borders?
Michael T. Klare
The Pentagon’s Provocative Encirclement of China
Howard Lisnoff
The Outrageous Level of Intolerance is Happening Everywhere!
Vijay Prashad
The People of India Stand With Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Rocking the G7: Trump Stomps His Allies
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Lawrence Wittner
Getting Ready for Nuclear War
Dean Baker
When Both Men and Women Drop Out of the Labor Force, Why Do Economists Only Ask About Men?
Bruce Lerro
Big Brother Facebook: Drawing Down the Iron Curtain on Yankeedom
June 20, 2018
Henry Giroux
Trump’s War on Children is an act of State Terrorism
Bill Hackwell
Unprecedented Cruelty Against Immigrants and Their Children
Paul Atwood
“What? You Think We’re So Innocent?”
Nicola Perugini
The Palestinian Tipping Point
K.J. Noh
Destiny and Daring: South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s Impossible Journey Towards Peace
Gary Leupp
Jeff Sessions and St. Paul’s Clear and Wise Commands
M. G. Piety
On Speaking Small Truths to Power
Dave Lindorff
Some Straight Talk for Younger People on Social Security (and Medicare too)
George Wuerthner
The Public Value of Forests as Carbon Reserves
CJ Hopkins
Confession of a Putin-Nazi Denialist
David Schultz
Less Than Fundamental:  the Myth of Voting Rights in America
Rohullah Naderi
The West’s Over-Publicized Development Achievements in Afghanistan 
Dan Bacher
California Lacks Real Marine Protection as Offshore Drilling Expands in State Waters
Lori Hanson – Miguel Gomez
The Students of Nicaragua’s April Uprising
Russell Mokhiber
Are Corporations Behind Frivolous Lawsuits Against Corporations?
Michael Welton
Infusing Civil Society With Hope for a Better World
June 19, 2018
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
We Can Thank Top Union Officials for Trump
Lawrence Davidson
The Republican Party Falls Apart, the Democrats Get Stuck
Sheldon Richman
Trump, North Korea, and Iran
Richard Rubenstein
Trump the (Shakespearean) Fool: a New Look at the Dynamics of Trumpism
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Protect Immigrant Rights; End the Crises That Drive Migration
Gary Leupp
Norway: Just Withdraw From NATO
Kristine Mattis
Nerd Culture, Adultolescence, and the Abdication of Social Priorities
Mike Garrity
The Forest Service Should Not be Above the Law
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Activism And Smears Masquerade As Journalism: From Seralini To Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts The Record Straight
Doug Rawlings
Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?
Kenneth Surin
2018 Electioneering in Appalachian Virginia
Nino Pagliccia
Chrystia Freeland Fails to See the Emerging Multipolar World
John Forte
Stuart Hall and Us
June 18, 2018
Paul Street
Denuclearize the United States? An Unthinkable Thought
John Pilger
Bring Julian Assange Home
Conn Hallinan
The Spanish Labyrinth
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail