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

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail