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International Longshore and Warehouse Union
Updated: 7 hours 57 min ago

ILWU International Executive Board releases Statement of Policy on Donald Trump

Thu, 08/24/2017 - 15:15

International Longshore and Warehouse Union
International Executive Board
Vancouver, British Columbia
August 17 – 18, 2017

STATEMENT OF POLICY ON DONALD TRUMP

President Trump’s reaction to the protests and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia is so unacceptable, so beyond the bounds of human decency, and so revealing that it calls into question his suitability to continue as President of the United States. There can never be an acceptable reason to defend white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and racists KKK members and sympathizers. What President Trump has done with respect to the Charlottesville protests is no different from those who defended the Nazis in the 1930’s, except that it is coming from the President of the United States.

During the election, candidate Trump referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals, mocked a disabled reporter, bragged about groping women, and otherwise put women down because of their appearance and weight. He has tried to ban Muslims from immigrating to the US because of their religious beliefs.

To those looking at Trump for alternative leadership, he managed to explain away these bigoted statements through carefully crafted press statements. This gave Trump supporters the political cover to continue their support of him. His statements following the protests and violence in Charlottesville have to cause his supporters to re-examine their views of Trump and explicitly renounce his views.

After nearly seven months in office, Trump has clearly demonstrated his lack of ability to carry out the duties of the President of the United States for the benefit of all Americans — black, brown, women, LGBT community, Jews, and Muslims. His behavior has reached the point that he is not suitable to continue as President of the United States.

Categories: Unions

West Coast longshore workers ratify contract extension;New agreement will continue until July, 2022

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 17:42

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 4, 2017) – The ILWU’s Coast Balloting Committee confirmed today that West Coast longshore workers at 29 ports in California, Oregon and Washington have officially ratified a three-year contract extension with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).

The Committee carefully reviewed balloting results from all longshore local unions and confirmed a tally showing that 67% of members voted in favor of the extension. The current agreement was set to expire on July 1, 2019; the newly approved three-year pact will extend the expiration to July 1, 2022.

The contract extension will raise wages, maintain health benefits, and increase pensions from 2019-2022. 

The results followed a year-long debate and democratic decision-making process which allowed every registered longshore worker from Bellingham, Washington, to San Diego, California, to express their views and cast a ballot.

“The rank-and-file membership has made their decision and expressed a clear choice,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath. “During the past year we saw a healthy debate and heard different points of view, with concerns raised by all sides. The democratic process allowed us to make a difficult decision and arrive at the best choice under the circumstances.”

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s Coast Longshore Division represents approximately 20,000 longshore workers on the West Coast of the United States.

 

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Categories: Unions

Lois Stanahan: Veteran Portland activist

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 10:06

Long-distance fighter: Lois Stranahan spoke at the Oregon governor’s mansion at an event in 2001 to honor the farmworkers union. She shared stories of Cesar Chavez staying in her home, and how a shipload of boycotted California table grapes never made it to Oregon.

Longtime Portland labor and social justice advocate Lois Stranahan, passed on May 17 at the age of 97. She was born and raised on a farm in Arkansas where she played the fiddle in a family band with her five siblings.”

Like many of her generation, she migrated from the south and headed out west during the Second World War, arriving in Portland where she found work as a waitress in 1940 – and quickly helped her co-workers join the union. Before long, she found a better paying job in Portland’s shipyards as a welder and joined the Steamfitters Union with many other women who helped build Liberty Ships that transported vital goods for the war effort. After the war, Lois worked as a telephone operator and helped organize her co-workers into the Communication Workers of America and helped lead their national strike in 1947 – a year before the ILWU west coast waterfront strike. It was during these conflicts that she married Jesse Stranahan. Both were deeply devoted to the cause of union organizing and social change, with Jesse joining ILWU Marine Clerks Local 40 in 1942 and Lois joining the ILWU Auxiliary #5 where she remained active throughout her life.

In addition to her love for gardening, Lois was an excellent photographer who contributed many images that were published in The Dispatcher.  Her devotion to political activities, desire to communicate with the public and tell labor’s story, landed her in a high-profile confrontation with authorities that made headlines in Oregon. The issue involved Stranahan’s insistence on a legal right to gather petition signatures in public places – even if those places were privately owned. In 1989, she was arrested for gathering petition signatures at a Fred Meyer store in Portland. Stranahan insisted that the sidewalk in front of the supermarket was effectively a public space – even if it was located on private property – so she sued Fred Meyer and won a jury verdict with damages that was upheld by the state court of appeals.

Oregon’s Supreme Court, eventually overturned her victory and ruled for the rights of private property owners to exclude petition gathering in public areas, such as shopping malls. Among the many social justice causes she supported was the effort by members of the United Farmworkers Union to improve working conditions in the fields. She joined the consumer grape boycott in 1965 and supported the UFW effort for decades that followed. In later life she was active in the campaign to stop a sales tax in Oregon, arguing it was a “regressive” measure that fell most heavily on the poor and working class – while going easy on the state’s richest residents. In 1997, Lois and her husband were inducted into Oregon’s Labor Hall of Fame by the Labor Retirees Council, which recognized their lifetime of activism.

Jesse died the following year in April, 1998. Lois survived another 19 years until passing at her daughter’s home in Edison, New Jersey. She was buried at the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland on May 30.

Categories: Unions

Organizing victories on Hawaii’s docks

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 09:41

Ratifying the CBA: HSI Supervisors voted in favor of ratifying their newly negotiated collective bargaining agreement

2016 was a busy year of ILWU organizing activity on the docks of Hawaii. A new Matson clerical unit was organized into Local 142, and a charter was granted to ILWU Local 100 to create a home for four newly-organized units of longshore supervisors who came into the union.  Workers in these new units met on their days off to develop contract demands and to elect five separate negotiating committees. Contract talks began in late 2016 for the Matson clericals and supervisors at Hawaii Stevedores, Inc. (“HSI”), Matson Facilities and Maintenance, and Young Brothers, Ltd. Negotiations for McCabe, Hamilton and Renny supervisors started this year. International Vice President (Hawaii) Wesley Furtado served as spokesperson for each set of negotiations. “Negotiating a first collective bargaining agreement is tough.” stated Furtado. “You’ve got 30-plus sections of contract language and

economics to wrestle over with the Employers.” None of the 21 members elected to the five negotiating committees, had ever been involved in negotiations and only one worker had ever belonged to a union. Despite this, Furtado said “Members of all the committees worked hard, learned fast, and took their responsibility seriously. It wouldn’t be possible to run five separate negotiations for first contracts without strong committees. We also had great support from the 142 Hawaii Longshore Division.” In the early morning hours of Friday April 21, the first of these committees reached a tentative agreement – the new unit of Matson clericals. Later that same morning, negotiations stepped up with HSI. The outlines of a tentative agreement were hammered out over the weekend and a final tentative agreement was reached on May 2. The Matson clerical unit was able to make substantial gains in wages and benefits, including family medical with no monthly premium and

a greatly improved retirement plan. As non-union workers, many members in this unit were used to getting a bonus instead of a raise. As ILWU members, everyone will receive increases of 3 percent in each of the next three years. Some workers also saw pay upgrades in addition to their 3 percent raise. On April 30, Matson clerical workers unanimously ratified their contract. Unit Secretary Joy Borbo stated: “Before we joined the ILWU we had no representation and we were ‘at-will’ employees. Now we are bargaining unit employees, we have rights, we have the collective power to negotiate a contract, and a voice to help enforce our contract. Fortunately for us that voice is the ILWU… this is the best thing that has ever happened in my career at Matson.” Local 100 HSI supervisors held their ratification meeting on May 5, and their first contract was also unan

imously approved. HSI supervisors won a guaranteed 40-hour work week and 3.5% wage increases in each of the next three years – with back pay to September 20, 2016. In addition, some classifications received wage upgrades and premiums. HSI supervisors also won family medical benefits with no monthly premiums and – for the first time – twelve paid holidays (supervisors were previous salaried workers). As non-union salaried workers, HSI supervisors weren’t paid overtime and had no differential for working the night shift – injustices they corrected in their first union contract. “The hard-fought victories won by the Matson clerical workers and HSI supervisors will greatly benefit these workers and sets the stage for good agreements to be won at the three supervisor units still in negotiations.” Furtado said.

Categories: Unions

LEAD training aims  to strengthen a  rank-and-file union

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 15:48

Team building: The LEAD Institute program emphasized group participation and collaborative problem solving to help build a strong democratic union from the bottom-up.

A diverse group of 100 rank-and-file members and elected leaders attended the ILWU’s Leadership, Education and Development (LEAD) training in Seattle on May 7-12. The week- long education program seeks to provide tools that attendees can take back to their local unions that will encourage new leadership and more membership involvement – both fundamental tenants of the ILWU belief that strong unions are built from the bottom-up. Practical skills Dozens of exercises were conducted throughout the week, emphasizing active participation and collaborative problem-solving skills. Participants learned practical skills, including how to run a successful union meeting, how to increase member involvement, how to speak confidently in public, and how to communicate a positive, public-interest union message to the news media.

Opening remarks

Opening remarks ILWU International President Robert McEllrath opened the training, emphasizing that leadership comes in many forms and is not limited only to those holding elected union office. He reminded everyone that the ILWU’s strength comes from an active and engaged rank-and-file, not a “top down” leadership style.  “Does a leader have to be the president or secretary-treasurer of the local?” asked McEllrath. “Absolutely not,” he answered. “You’ll see a leader stand up in a union meeting and speak their mind, ask questions and go through the democratic process of our union. It’s you, the rank-and-file, who are going to make this union work.”

Keynote address

Vision: Local 19’s Alexandra Vekich served as note taker during a group exercise to develop a broad vision for the union.

On the second day of the training, a keynote address was delivered by Dr. Steven Pitts, an economist at UC Berkeley’s Labor Center. He focused on America’s growing inequality, explaining that wages for workers no longer rise with higher productivity.  During the decades following WWII until the late 1960s, Pitts said wages rose along with productivity, allowing workers to share the benefits of producing goods and services more efficiently. Pitts said that wages have been stagnant for several decades despite rising productivity levels. More profits from higher productivity are now going into the pockets of the super-rich.

“Workers in this country have been beaten-down for 40 years, and that beat-down is a result of workers lacking power,” Pitts said. He stressed that workers can begin to reverse this trend by starting with a common vision and shared values about the kind of world they want to see in the future. Pitts then led participants in a group exercise to develop that shared vision.  Presentations and group exercises that afternoon focused on how to make union meetings more effective and how different personality types and “working styles” can collaborate to make an effective team. Those sessions were facilitated by Joel Schaffer and Rick Ogelsby of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). That was followed by a session on “Robert’s Rules of Order,” which is the process used by the ILWU and other bodies to assure orderly debate and decision making. This session was led by Local 8’s Jim Daw and Local 52’s Max Vekich; both have served as parliamentarians at Longshore Caucuses and ILWU Conventions.

The ILWU’s 10 Guiding Principles

The third day started with a discussion about the ILWU’s Ten Guiding Principles, led by pensioner Rich Austin, Sr., who presented an overview of the principles and their history. A panel discussion followed with IBU Secretary-Treasurer Terri Mast, Local 5 Union Representative Ryan Takas and Local 19 President Rich Austin, Jr., who explained the importance of the Guiding Principles and how they have shaped the union. Following the panel discussion, workshop participants voted for what they felt were the most important principles, listing favorites at one of ten easels set-up around the room.

Bridging the ‘generations gap’

Later that afternoon, conference participants discussed the need to develop and involve young leaders in the union. A discussion on “bridging the generation” gap began with a brainstorming session that explored the perspectives of younger and older workers led by Gary Hattal and Ligia Velazquez of FMCS. A panel discussion followed with ILWU Canada Second Vice-President Steve Nasby, Local 5 Secretary-Treasurer Amy Wren, ILWU 23 President Dean McGrath, Tacoma Pensioners President Mike Jagielski, and Local 23 B-Man Brian Skiffington. Panelists explained how their locals are developing younger and newer leaders. Nasby discussed ILWU Canada’s annual “Young Workers Conference” along with efforts to include ID Casuals in education and other union programs. The Tacoma delegation talked about their Young Workers’ Committee that built strong bonds between Local 23 pensioners and younger Tacoma longshore workers.

“We brought together young workers who are hungry for knowledge about the ILWU and the industry, and you have this group of pensioners who are eager to share their knowledge and experience. It’s a powerful combination,” said Mike Jagielski.  Local 5’s Amy Wren talked about the challenges of building union culture at Powell’s where the turnover rate is much higher than the longshore industry, and most workers have no personal or family experience with unions before working at Powell’s.

Automation

On day four, ILWU International Vice President Ray Familathe gave a multi-media presentation that explained the growing threat of automation on the docks, in the trucking industry and in warehouses and hotels. “I’m tired of being lied to by politicians,” said Familathe. “I don’t think there’s a politician on either side of the aisle who understands where this technology is going and what is going to happen to working people over the next few years. We need to challenge these politicians on where they stand on automation and how they expect public services can continue to be funded if more and more workers are displaced by robots.”

Communications workshop

The ILWU communications staff held a workshop in the afternoon of day four. Topics included internal and external communications strategies, developing a public-interest messages, flyer design and public speaking. The workshop was interactive, and participants worked in small groups to practice public speaking, produce their own flyers and develop messages that combined union issues with broader public concerns.

Report from Standing Rock 

Toward the end of the day, Local 4 members Steve Hunt and Jamison Roberts shared their experiences with building community support for ILWU members who were locked-out of the EGT grain terminal in Vancouver, WA for 18 months, ending in late 2014. They also shared details about their recent solidarity efforts to support the Lakota Sioux and other Native Americans who opposed the Dakota Access pipeline that was proposed to run through their land.  Hunt said the tactics he saw on TV used by the police against Native Americans reminded him of how ILWU members had been treated in Vancouver during the lockout. “I wanted to go there and see for myself what was happening, and not rely on what the media was telling me,” he said. “I know they police aren’t there to protect the grass. They have the backs of the oil companies, just like they had the backs of the grain companies in Vancouver,” he said.  Hunt and Roberts were the first ILWU members on the ground at Standing Rock protest. They brought a trailer full of donated supplies from Local 4 members and stayed for a week to provide assistance. Delegations from Locals 10, 13 and 23 followed, and the ILWU Executive Board and the Coast Longshore Division both donated funds to support the cause.

Member Action Plan

The week culminated with the Member Action Plan (MAP) exercise. Small working groups were tasked with developing a plan to help new members get more involved in their local unions.   The idea was introduced by Fred Glass, Communications Director for the American Federation of Teachers, who helped develop the exercise with former ILWU Education Director Gene Vrana. Each group was asked to begin by assessing the current needs of their locals to determine any shortcomings that now exist with new member education, outreach and orientation. Those insights were combined with skills and approaches learned during the week, then shaped into a proposed plan that was presented to the conference on the final morning of the training.

Closing address

On the final day, ILWU International Secretary Treasurer Willie Adams delivered closing remarks to the conference. He stressed the need for participants to bring back what they had learned and apply that knowledge to work with their local union officers. “What will you do with all of this knowledge? What will happen when you get back home? Will your momentum and enthusiasm die out? Will you be on fire when you get home or will you just go back to doing what we’ve always been doing?” Adams asked. Active members, strong unions Local 500 member Joulene Parent, who now works on her local’s Education Committee, said her own experience as a casual dockworker illustrated how important it is to actively encourage new workers to participate.  “I’m one of those people who was pulled into working with our union’s Education Committee before I became a full member,” Parent said. “I used to think that you had to be a fully-registered member to get educated and that it was an exclusive club. But Local 500 members reached out to me, invited me, encouraged me to participate, and made me feel like I had something to contribute. Now I see that our inactive members and casuals are resources lying dormant that could benefit our union.”

Categories: Unions

Local 20 gets new contract with Rio Tinto at Port of LA

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 15:19

A new five-year contract has been ratified covering 77 members of ILWU Local 20 who work on a private dock at the Port of Los Angeles where they load and process materials mined at Rio Tinto’s giant borate mine and plant in the Mojave Desert that employs over 500 members of Local 30 in Boron, CA. Retirement benefits The Local 20 Negotiating Committee of Rudy Dorame, Mike Gonzolo, Tim Simpson and Robert Frazier began negotiating in December of 2016. They reached a tentative agreement with the company on June 3, and members ratified the new contract a week later. The new agreement will increase defined pension benefits from the current $75 per year of service to $80 at the end of the 5-year contract. The company also provides a 401(k) savings plan for newer employees. Recovering some lost ground A previous contract opened the door for a “two-tier” pay and retirement scheme that caused divisions between newer and older workers, that

would eventually lower pay throughout the shop. To help, the new contract guarantees minimum raises of 2.5% to everyone for each of the 5 years, while also providing 3.5% raises to lowerpaid, newer workers in years 4 and 5. Another improvement restores seniority bidding rights to everyone hired after 2011. The new agreement also provides more vacation carry-over, better death benefits, more funeral leave, and higher allowances for safety shoes

and glasses. The probationary period was also reduced from 120 to 60 days, improving job security for new members. The company also agreed to post overtime equalization charts and share testing results when they’re required for bidding certain jobs. A last-minute effort by the company to claw back a $1000 signing bonus was also defeated and that cash payout became part of the package.

Local 20 gets new contract with Rio Tinto at Port of LA

Unity was important “We tried to keep everyone informed and members stayed united,” said Local 20 President Rudy Dorame, who also thanked “all of our brothers and sisters from the surrounding locals in our area,” noting that “the ILWU family here in the harbor really came through for us.” He also mentioned international support that included Australia’s CFMEU. “I think all the support and solidarity made Rio Tinto take our contract talks more seriously,” said Dorame.

Categories: Unions