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Burning Bridges: America’s 20-Year Crusade to Deport Labor Leader Harry Bridges

Wed, 02/28/2018 - 11:38

In his new book, Burning Bridges, attorney Peter Afrasiabi introduces us to the relentless, decades-long crusade to discredit and deport ILWU leader Harry Bridges. The book transports readers back to the tumultuous height of the red scare during the 1940’s and 50’s and provides a sense of how doggedly the government and employers tried to rid the country of a man because of his labor activism and political ideas. It also gives the reader a sense of how immigration law has been historically used to attack workers’ rights and their ability to organize.

Afrasiabi opens the book with details about Bridges’ early life and the events of the 1934 coastwise waterfront strike. But it’s not until he delves into the deportation attempts against Bridges and the legal drama that unfolded in court that Afrasiabi’s writing truly shines.

Afrasiabi quickly examines how the case against Bridges formed. Early in his role as the leader of the newly-organized longshoremen, Bridges came under the watchful eye of a loose-knit group of anti-union players—employers, American Legionnaires, and police officials. Bridges collaborated with a diverse array of people supporting longshore workers’ efforts to improve their conditions, including some Communist Party members. He himself believed passionately in fighting racial discrimination and granting rank-and-file workers a say in how they were treated on the job—ideas that were considered radical at the time. These beliefs, associations, and Bridges’ overall effectiveness as a leader put him in the crosshairs of anti-unionists who were collecting information on him by 1935, with a goal of removing him from the waterfront. They even discussed assassination. As a safer alternative, deportation offered a promising opportunity dispose of Bridges.

Bridges proved vulnerable to this strategy. Australian by birth, he had never gotten naturalized after relocating to the U.S. as a young man in 1922. Employers seized upon a 1918 law that allowed for the deportation of noncitizens who belonged to subversive organizations advocating overthrow of the government. If they could link Bridges to the Communist Party, they could have him legally deported. They demanded action from Congress and the Department of Labor, which then oversaw immigration matters.

Initial government investigations failed to link Bridges to the Communist Party, but private interests conducted their own independent but biased investigations, including the American Legion’s Subversive Activities Commission in San Francisco. Its Chair, Harper Knowles, conspired with John Keegan, Chief of Detectives in the Portland Police Department, and Stanley Doyle, an undercover prosecutor in Oregon.

Afrasiabi calls the three the “Knowles- Keegan-Doyle Axis.” This “Axis” coordinated an interstate effort to collect evidence and witnesses against Bridges. It met secretly with several of his associates and used bribes and blackmail to extract testimony. Some of the money and resources for this nefarious endeavor came from the State of Oregon and the City of Portland, even though the investigation was outside of Oregon’s jurisdiction.

Knowles and the American Legion had friends in Congress who pressured Francis Perkins, President Franklin Roosevelt’s Labor Secretary, to push for Bridges’ deportation. Several of these Congressmen were members of the Dies Committee, an anti-Communist body that was a precursor to the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Because Secretary Perkins did not direct the Department of Labor to take swift action to have Bridges tried and deported, some Congressmen called for her impeachment. This was rejected, but its threat irreparably damaged Perkins’ credibility in immigration matters.

Perkins and the Department of Labor eventually capitulated and agreed to hear the case against Bridges. Public hearings began on Angel Island, the San Francisco headquarters of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), in July 1939. The government chose the remote island to avoid publicity and protests. John Landis, the highly respected Dean of Harvard Law School, conducted the hearings.

Afrasiabi describes the hearing room scene like a movie screenplay for a tragi-comedy. Government witnesses contradicted themselves. The prosecution’s key evidence, Bridges’ supposed Communist Party membership card, was a forgery. A star witness had been indicted for racketeering in another case. Keegan and Doyle used bribery and threats to extract testimony.

Bridges, on the other hand, freely acknowledged that he knew and worked with people who were Communists, but convincingly denied membership in the Party. He pointed out that the Party’s political theories were of little practical use to him because “there is no one, when it comes to the best policy of the longshoremen on the waterfront, that knows more about what is best for us than we ourselves.”

Landis ruled in Bridges favor, saying “that Bridges’ aims are energetically radical may be admitted, but the proof fails to establish that the methods he seeks to employ to realize them are other than those that the framework of democratic and constitutional government permits.” Bridges filed an application for naturalization. Meanwhile, the anti-Bridges forces prepared for another attack. The Bridges case was only beginning. The new onslaught featured rewriting immigration laws, reducing the influence of the Department of Labor over immigration matters, and expanding government surveillance against alleged subversives.

Within months of Landis’ decision, Congress passed a resolution directly targeting Bridges. H.R. 9766 authorized the U.S. Attorney General to deport the ILWU leader, “whose presence in this country the Congress deems hurtful.” The bill was illegal because the U.S. Constitution prohibits bills of attainder—laws that target a specific person or group. Knowing that the popular bill would pass in the Senate, Roosevelt feared vetoing it.

Not wanting to seem “soft on Communism,” he directed Attorney General Robert Jackson to work with Congress to find a political compromise. The compromise came in the form of another bill, the Smith Act, which Roosevelt signed into law on June 28, 1940. It didn’t mention Bridges directly, but opened the door to another deportation attempt by expanding anti-sedition language and allowing the government to deport any noncitizen who “at the time of entering the United States… or any time thereafter” was a member of or affiliated with the Communist Party. Legislators hoped this language would make Bridges a vulnerable target.

Attorneys: Carol King, Richard Gladstein,
and Aubrey Grossman, strategize with Harry Bridges during the hearings on Angel Island.

More than legislation was needed to activate Bridges’ deportation. But when criticism intensified against Perkins and the Department of Labor for their handling of immigration cases, Roosevelt caved to the pressure and transferred INS oversight from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice. This removed Secretary

Perkins’ influence over immigration matters and placed the INS under the control of the U.S. Attorney General— and the investigative arm of the FBI. Attorney General Jackson quickly ordered FBI head J. Edgar Hoover to investigate Bridges. Hoover requested and received extended wiretapping powers over “aliens” and “subversives,” and put Bridges’ under constant surveillance.

Hoover was a fanatical anti- Communist who declared the press that “beyond a doubt, Bridges is a Red.” Based on the new law and FBI investigation, the Bridges case went to trial again in 1941. Bridges lost this second trial, but appealed the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which overturned the verdict. U.S. Attorney General Francis Biddle subsequently overturned the appeal. A lengthy appeals process eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1945.

Justice Frank Murphy wrote the high court’s majority decision, which favored Bridges, saying that “seldom if ever in the history of this nation has there been such a concentrated and relentless crusade to deport an individual because he dared exercise that freedom which belongs to him as a human being and is guaranteed him by the Constitution…. Freedom of speech and of press is accorded aliens residing in this country. So far as this record shows, the literature published by Harry Bridges, the utterances made by him were entitled to that protection. They revealed a militant advocacy of the cause of trade unionism. But they did not teach or advocate or advise the subversive conduct condemned by the statute.”

With that victory, Bridges then filed for citizenship. As part of the naturalization process, two of Bridges’ close colleagues, ILWU International Vice President J. R. Robertson and Henry Schmidt, a 1934 strike veteran from Local 10, signed an affidavit stating that Bridges was not a Communist Party member. Bridges testified to the same. The Judge granted Bridges’ citizenship petition. Bridges was finally a U.S. Citizen.

But, the attacks against Bridges and the ILWU continued. In 1948, ILWU longshoremen struck for 90 days against an employer attempt to use the newly passed Taft-Hartley Act to red-bait Bridges and other ILWU leadership and to destroy the union’s hiring hall. The strike was won, but the following year Bridges and the two witnesses to his naturalization hearing were indicted on three counts of criminal perjury and conspiracy because both claimed in their testimony that Bridges was not a Communist. At the same time, the Department of Justice filed a civil suit to cancel Bridges’ U.S. citizenship and have him deported to Australia.

The three unionists were tried and found guilty. Robertson and Schmidt were given two-year prison terms. Bridges was sentenced to five. Even their lawyers, San Francisco attorneys Vincent Hallinan and James McGinnis, were sentenced to criminal contempt of court and served prison sentences.

Bridges got out on bail, which the government revoked, and he served 21 days in jail. The case went through another appeals process and again landed before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1953, the high court ruled in Bridges’ favor a second time, setting aside Bridges’, Robertson’s, and Schmidt’s sentences and restoring Bridges’ U.S. Citizenship. The civil suit against Bridges was dropped at the federal court level in 1955. By then Bridges had endured nearly 20 years of trials and appeals.

Afrasiabi summarizes Bridges ordeal as “persecution by prosecution, the heart of the use and abuse of the legal system by those in power against those who challenge the status quo.” Concluding his book with a thoughtful legal analysis of the case, Afrasiabi examines oversteps by the government’s executive branch and its influence on the lower courts throughout the 20 years Bridges fought for his right to remain in the United States.

Because Afrasiabi focuses primarily on legal arguments and courtroom transcripts, rather than the trial’s broad, lasting, social impact, he leaves out some historical information that should interest ILWU members. For example, the Smith Act, the law passed to invite a second set of trials against Bridges, eventually resulted in indictments of 215 U.S. citizens and noncitizen immigrants before it was rendered unconstitutional by a Supreme Court Decision in 1957. Among those indicted were socialists, Communist Party members, ILWU labor activists in Hawaii, and a founding member of the ACLU. The expansion of the FBI’s surveillance activities continued beyond the Bridges case and later included secret investigations into nonviolent movements, including civil rights and anti-war groups.

Finally, the INS transfer from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice—and more recently, to the Department of Homeland Security— permanently refocused the lens from which the government views immigration matters. Although he lightly touches on some of these topics, examining these points in depth is not the point of Afrasiabi’s book.

Although other historians have written about the case against Harry Bridges, Afrasiabi’s is the first full-length book on the trials. Afrasiabi undertook an extensive study of the Bridges case, including its thousands of pages of transcripts, and wrote an admirable book that is accessible to readers. The result is required reading for anyone with an interest in the ILWU and the life of Harry Bridges.

-Robin Walker

Categories: Unions

Norm Parks: Lifetime of leadership & service to the ILWU

Tue, 02/27/2018 - 16:59

Norman “Norm” S. Parks was born on March 7, 1943, into a strong union family with a long legacy in longshoring. His father, Ezra, was a skilled grain “boardman” at Local 8 in Portland who knew how to load grain that arrived onto ships from shoreside elevators that sent torrents rushing down long tubes that roared at the open end below where men used heavy wooden boards to deflect the cargo into nooks and crannies of the ship compartments, so vessels could be “filled to the gills” and properly balanced.

After high school, Parks served in the military where he learned how to load vessels, experience that came in handy after he was discharged in 1962 and began working jobs on the Portland docks with his father and other Local 8 members. At that time, roughly 1 in 3 jobs on the Portland docks involved handling grain. Like his father, Parks worked a wide variety of jobs, but chose to spend much of his time on grain vessels where he worked as a deck man, spout trimmer, winch driver, boss boardman and safety spotter. Working shoreside, he spent time working in and around the elevators, gaining experience and knowledge that would help him in future years when he served on union negotiating committees.

In 1966, Parks married his high school sweetheart Diana, who became his wife, life partner and a Local 8 member for over 40 years. Parks encouraged them to set their wedding date on July 5, so they could always have plenty of company by celebrating their anniversary on Bloody Thursday – the ILWU longshore holiday that honors 7 martyrs who were killed in 1934 when the union was established.

Norm and Diana’s love for each other and for their union formed a strong bond that endured for the next 51 years. They had two children, Sheri and Michael, and eventually grandchildren David, Larry and Preston.

Despite their growing family, Parks became increasingly involved in union leadership posts and was elected by his co-workers to serve as Business Agent and Dispatcher, Trustee, Labor Relations Committee member, plus three terms as Local 8’s Secretary-Treasurer.

He was chosen to serve outside of Portland including frequent service as a delegate to the Longshore Caucus and International Union Conventions. Parks also became a regular face on the International Union Executive Board, where he served for a remarkable 28 years and travelled to meetings every three months.

“He was on the IEB for over half the time we were married,” said Diana Parks, who travelled frequently with Norm to meetings. Parks was deeply involved with grain contract negotiations and had a consistent presence on Longshore Negotiating Committees, participating in eight different contracts.

During the negotiations, Diana pitched in to help find housing for Committee members and remained in San Francisco for the duration of the contract talks. In addition to his role in longshore negotiations, Parks participated in a host of union committees that included Grain, Barge, Logs, Technology and Education. Parks travelled far and wide, including a union delegation that met with Mexican port workers in 1993 to discuss the ILWU’s opposition to NAFTA. Two years later, he travelled with his father, Ezra, to Liverpool, England, where the sacked dockers repaid the gesture of solidarity by honoring the visit with a brass plaque at their union headquarters. Norman Parks passed on January 8, 2017, while living in Goodyear, Arizona.

“Norm had the wisdom over the last decade to step back from front line leadership and let us young upstarts find our way,” said Local 8’s Stephen Hanson, who is now a pensioner himself. “He let us make the mistakes that were necessary for us to become capable leaders. Norm’s philosophy of work, be it the double-back or question of steadies, is marked on our local.”

Categories: Unions

Young dockworkers in London

Tue, 02/27/2018 - 12:32

The Antwerp Dockers’ BTB Youth Movement with ILWU International Vice President Ray Familathe & ILWU Young Workers from the United States and Canada.

“Good people share and aren’t scared about letting other people have a go,” Paddy Crumlin told a room full of International delegates in London this November. Crumlin is President of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), and he welcomed dozens of youth delegates to participate in the ITF Dockers Section meetings in London on November 14th-17th.

A day earlier, I joined 30 young dockworkers from 16 countries who attended the ITF Youth Dockers Section meeting, which helped us prepare for the following days when youth delegates observed and sat with representatives from many of the world’s dockworker unions as they conducted business.

I had the honor of representing the Local 23 Young Workers Committee and was part of an ILWU delegation that included International Vice President (Mainland) Ray Familathe, ILWU Canada President Rob Ashton, Local 502 youth delegates Ashley Bordignon and Dan Kask, Local 400 member and Canadian area ITF Coordinator Peter Lahay, Local 63 members Joe Gasperov, and Robert Abordo, and Kelly Dondero from the brand new Local 63 Superintendents Unit.

The ITF leadership understands that the new generation of workers have to participate in decisions because we will be most affected by automation and other changes in our workplaces. Dan Kask and I were invited to give a presentation about the work we have been doing to build a young workers movement in our union. We shared successes and lessons learned from ILWU Canada and Local 23. We discussed ideas and showed pictures of young workers volunteering in local communities, participating in conferences, leading peer-to-peer education events, marching in the streets and standing with other workers on their picket lines. We provided examples of how to use social media effectively and how to take stock of our individual skills and put them to work building the union.

The ITF leadership tasked the youth delegates with building a global framework for the ITF’s Youth Movement. We elected chairs, set up a strategy for navigating languages and regions using email and social media, and gave ourselves six months for each of our affiliated unions to start a Young Workers Committee with an internet presence. The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), the ILWU and now the Antwerp Dockers (Belgische Transport Bond – BTB) have all developed strong local young workers committees. In the coming months will help dockers from Spain, Colombia, Nicaragua, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Senegal and other countries develop their own committees. If we can build local capacity for action and participation in our affiliated unions, it helps build the capacity of the ITF to carry out global campaigns.

The ITF targets major port terminal operators with global campaigns

We learned about the United Nations “Global Compact” – a list of 10 principles that have been voluntarily adopted by 10,000 corporations around the world. The principles include the abolition of child labor, slavery, discrimination in the workplace and the right to free association and collective bargaining for workers.

We noted that only one global terminal operator has signed: APMT. I was moved by the words of ITF Dockers Assistant Secretary Nigel Venes, who said, “Employers have two faces and behave one way in the developed world and another in the developing world. We have to move through our industry and change these bandit employers.”

ILWU Local 502 Casual, Ashley Bordignon, gives a presentation to the ITF Young Dockers meeting in London. In September she was elected by her peers to ILWU Canada’s Young Workers Committee.

Strong women’s agenda

The ITF Women’s Conference took place in Marrakesh, Morocco, a week before our Dockers Section meeting. The Dockers Section approved a request to formalize a Women’s Working Group. This group will monitor women’s membership in the ITF, build networks to exchange experiences and best practices, and continue supporting ITF campaigns – including global initiatives to end workplace violence.

Other issues of concern on the ITF Women’s agenda include recruitment, safety, political action, equal pay, training, promotion and equal facilities.

November 19th was “World Toilet Day.” The ITF took the opportunity to launch a campaign, demanding separate and secure women’s facilities at port terminals around the world. I had to admit that this was a problem I had never considered and understood until now. Ports remain male-dominated workplaces. Part of normalizing women in our workplace is fighting for equal treatment and equal conditions.

Key issues remain

Health and safety, automation and respect for collective bargaining rights remain the most pressing issues across our industry. Too many terminal operators gallivant across North America, Western Europe and Australia, masquerading as safety conscious, ethical employers, when the reality is far different. Consider the example of DP

World’s terminal in Constanta, Romania, which has not reported a single injury in three years. We know that injuries and near-misses are not always properly handled and recorded in our own workplaces, and the situation is much worse outside of the developed world – and made worse everywhere due to poor terminal management.

In locations where “de-reguulation” or non-enforcement are the norm, employers have no reason to comply with any rules. In places like Africa, India and the Arab World, workplace monitoring is a preposterous farce. Lashing remains the most dangerous job, often performed by temporary workers who face death and serious injuries – along with constant threats to keep quiet. In Latin America, trade unionists are regularly assassinated, “disappeared.”

They and their families live under constant threats of violence and terrorism. Many of us know the story of Guatemalan trade union leader Pedro Zamora, who was gunned down in 2007 in front of his two children for resisting the privatization of a port in the Central American country. He was a leader of the Sindicato de Trabajadores Empresa Portuaria Quetzal (STEPQ), the Guatemalan dockers union. Three months ago, the current president of STEPQ received a message that if the union didn’t back off, they would mail him the ear of his 13-yearold daughter.

Where conditions are the worst, it is not just the lack of strong trade unions, but specifically what those unions represent, workers having a voice in their workplace. Having a voice on the job about safety and health is paramount to raising standards. To do that, workers must have laws that are enforced guaranteeing the right to form unions and to associate freely without threats and violence. Every gain that has been made in this arena has been won through workers struggle.


The ITF is changing by involving more women and young workers into the organization. The organization recognizes that young people have the least security, lowest wages and greatest vulnerability to layoffs and automation. It recognizes that women are the most vulnerable to workplace violence, discrimination and inequality.

And they understand that women and young people will bring vital new energy, new solutions, vision and creativity to our movement. Paddy Crumlin told the youth delegates that we have a responsibility to get involved with the ITF, just as the organization has a responsibility to include us.

If we can involve more young people and instill them with a sense of purpose, and possibility, then we will ensure that future generations will be in a better position to hold employers accountable and support struggles to raise standards for workers across our industry and around the world.

Brian Skiffington

Categories: Unions

Call to the 37th Convention

Wed, 02/07/2018 - 15:45
Categories: Unions

The history of “right-to-work”

Fri, 01/26/2018 - 16:24

King knew it was wrong: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pulled no punches about “right-to-work” being racist and immoral.  The honorary member of ILWU Local 10, spoke out in 1961:  “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone. Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.” King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis while supporting a strike by public sanitation workers.

In 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) that legalized the right of workers to form unions, negotiate contracts and conduct job actions. It also recognized the importance of “union shops” where all workers shared the cost of maintaining their union. The President made a point of signing the NLRA (also known as the Wagner Act) in the port city of Tacoma, on July 5. That date, recognized then and now as “Bloody Thursday,” honored waterfront workers killed during the West Coast waterfront strike that gave rise to today’s ILWU.

Some workers were excluded

The new law helped millions join unions and improve working conditions during the next three decades – and created a more secure working class that was eventually called “middle class” by those who were uncomfortable talking about working class power. But the NLRA also excluded large numbers of workers in order to win enough votes to pass Congress where racist Southern legislators demanded the exclusion of farm workers, domestic workers and public employees. To this day, those three classes of workers lack the same federal protections that once protected most private-sector workers. Today those protections have been greatly weakened by big business, but until recently, they allowed millions of workers to join unions

Business lost the first 4 rounds

Business owners who hated labor unions and President Roosevelt were furious when the NLRA passed in 1935. They sued to overturn the law in federal court and tried to block unions from collecting dues from everyone in union shops. In 1937, the Supreme Court sided with workers by allowing the NLRA to remain in place and confirmed the right of unions to collect fees from everyone in a union shop. In just two years following major strikes in 1934 and organizing by longshore, auto, steel and other workers, at least four dramatic victories had been secured: passage of the NLRA plus two victories in the Supreme Court, and passage of the Social Security Act that passed in 1935.

Excluded, but they organized

While private-sector workers were organizing during the 1930’s and three decades that followed, workers on farms, government jobs and private households continued to struggle on their own, forming unions occasionally when they could, but receiving little or no protection from the federal government.

Farm workers

In Hawaii, the ILWU made history with successful campaigns beginning in the early 1940’s that eventually organized the island’s sugar and pineapple workers on a mass scale, enabling them to become the highest-paid agricultural workers in America.

Labor activists helped farm workers organize powerful strikes and some unions during the 1930’s in California’s Central Valley, Salinas Valley, Imperial Valley and in eastern Washington State. Workers there continued organizing job actions throughout the 1960’s and beyond when the United Farmworkers Union passed the first farm labor law in the country in 1975 that allowed farm workers to organize unions in California.

In Southern states, activists helped tenant farmers and sharecroppers build unions during the 1930’s, helping both African-American and white farm workers to loosen the grip of debt and abuse that forced many families to live in virtual slavery since the Civil War.

Domestic workers

Domestic workers, including many African American women, also organized in the 1930’s with assistance from activists including Ella Baker, who described street corners in Manhattan and the Bronx as modern day “slave markets,” where women gathered each morning for a daily “shape-up.” Like longshore workers, they organized, and eventually forced New York’s Mayor La Guardia to create hiring halls with regulations that improved conditions for many.

In recent times, new organizing efforts by domestic workers have passed new domestic labor laws in eight states, including California, Oregon and Hawaii.

Public workers form unions

Public employees were inspired during the 1930’s by gains made by private sector workers inside factories and warehouses. Some of the first public workers to form unions were postal workers and teachers concerned about pay, benefits and working conditions – but also about abusive politicians who encouraged bribery to determine pay and job assignments instead of civil service.

Public unions grow in 1960’s

Public sector unions saw relatively little growth until the 1960’s when large numbers began joining unions and demanding the right to become legal and bargain contracts. During the next 30 years, organizing continued on a large scale as teachers, firemen, ferry workers, police, security and prison guards, road repair, water and sewer workers, planners, librarians and others joined public unions. By the year 2000 the number of public sector union members equaled private sector union members – while private-sector union members declined to today’s level – just 6% of the workforce.

Good news and bad news

As pubic unions successfully organized for better wages and benefits in the 1960’s and beyond, they first tried to catch-up with better paying jobs in the private sector that had risen because of union pressure. Workers also correctly noted that most public employees received no Social Security (another exclusion granted to conservatives in 1935 when the Social Security Act was passed by Congress), so demands for a secure retirement were addressed with defined-benefit pensions approved by politicians in charge of school districts, cities, counties and state governments. Within a decade or so, public wage increases and benefits began to surpass what private sector workers were able to bargain because their unions were growing weaker.

Anti-union reaction

At the same time, capitalists were shifting investment to the nonunion south and overseas, part of the “de-industrialization” and offshoring that still haunts much of middle America. Inflation also increased during the 1970’s because of massive spending for the war in Vietnam, along with funding for healthcare, education Medicare and other important programs.

Fear increased among workers and pensioners that they were falling behind and might lose their homes – especially in California where property taxes kept rising to pay for the growing public sector, which accounted for one in six jobs in the Golden State.

These factors – including the different fortunes of public and private sector union members – created dangerous divisions within the working class that were ripe for exploitation by right-wing politicians who used the opportunity to harvest votes by turning public and private sector union members – and the large non-union working class – against each other.

Division & conquest

One of the first high-profile battles for the heart and soul of America’s divided working class was fought and lost in California over Proposition 13. The property tax cap was the brainchild of two rightwing extremists; Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann, who called their plan to freeze property taxes, “the People’s Initiative.” The measure passed by almost 2-1 despite strong opposition from public sector unions and most politicians. The following year, Paul Gann passed another initiative to severely limit government spending and punish public union members. Politicians were terrified by the popular support for both initiatives, and some, including Jerry Brown, reversed course to support Paul Gann and become a self-proclaimed “fiscal conservative.”

Union-friendly politicians, meanwhile, tried to maintain loyalty to both private and public sector union members. But private sector members were increasingly anxious about their falling wages, rising taxes and dim prospects – while public sector members continued to push for as much as they could win at the bargaining table – not always appreciating that their “employers” included many increasingly anxious members of the working class who were being lured with appeals to “cut taxes” and vote against “greedy unions.”

As this conflict brewed, the fiscal crisis grew worse because the public sector kept growing in response to demands for education, health care and services to help more families living in poverty.

Wisconsin and beyond

The culmination of these forces were on full view in Wisconsin during 2010, when voters transformed the state from a union and Democratic Party stronghold, to a state that elected anti-union Governor Scott Walker. After winning, Walker stripped collective bargaining rights from public employees, triggering massive protests and support from ILWU members who travelled there to show their solidarity. But Walker defeated a recall election in 2012 and was reelected in 2014. Similarly, House Speaker Paul Ryan has consistently won his swing district that once included many industrial union members before the jobs left when capitalists closed plants in search of cheaper labor. Similar changes have taken place recently in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and other states where current and former union members were once a powerful progressive block, but now increasingly vote for anti-union politicians who support tax cuts, de-regulation, low wages, “right-to-work” and other antiunion laws. The final insult to union solidarity came with the election of Donald Trump who had a long record of anti-union behavior that many current and former union members overlooked while accepting his promises to restore jobs and power for the working class – then flipping to embrace Wall Street and the one-percent after winning the election.

Business dream of “right to work”

The Supreme Court is now poised to outlaw the right of public unions to collect representation fees in “union shops,” and impose “right-to-work” laws on all public union members.

This reversal marks the fulfillment of a dream going back to the 1930’s when Southern segregationists first peddled the idea of “right-to-work” as part of a strategy to thwart unions, stop “race-mixing” in workplaces, and block racial minorities from gaining their fair share of power and respect in society.

Trump backs anti-union case

On December 6, Trump administration lawyers in the Justice Department filed a “friend of the court” brief backing the Janus case against union members.

Categories: Unions

Supreme Court’s “Janus” case will impact members

Fri, 01/26/2018 - 15:24

Providing public service: Washington State ferry workers who belong to the Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU) are among millions of public employees who are likely to be impacted by a pending Supreme Court decision that aims to weaken unions, known as the “Janus” case. Shown on deck are (L-R): Matt Williams, Antonia Sullivan, Scott Johnson,
Kimberly Berry, and Drew Botti. Photo by Julianne Duncan.

The better pay, benefits and rights on the job that ILWU members and other union workers have enjoyed for decades are being challenged this year by a clever plan to weaken unions, called “right to work.”

Supreme Court’s “Janus” case

The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced they will hear a case in 2018 called “Janus versus AFSCME” that seeks to strip public unions of their right to collect dues from everyone covered by a union contract, and impose “right-to-work” rules on all public-sector union members in the United States. A decision harming public employee union members is virtually certain because President Trump recently filled a vacancy on the Supreme Court with Neil Gorsuch, who holds anti-union views and favors big business.

Details about Janus

Mark Janus is a public employee in Illinois who sued his AFSCME union because he objected to paying his small share of fees needed to cover the union’s representation costs that protect his contract, pay, benefits and rights on the job. Janus says he opposes unions so strongly that paying any fees would violate his First Amendment rights. The Janus case has massive support from anti-union business groups.

Key court cases

In 1977, public unions won a Supreme Court decision called “Abood” that affirmed their right to collect dues or “fair share fees” from all workers covered by a union contract. Since that decision, antiunion Presidents – especially Reagan and both Bush’s – appointed more anti-union justices to the court.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court heard a similar case – also backed by big business – on behalf of a California school teacher named Rebecca Friedrichs, who also held strong anti-union views. The court deadlocked on whether she was obligated to pay fees to the teacher’s union by a vote of 4 to 4, because Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly.

Anti-union politicians then blocked President Obama from filling the Scalia vacancy with someone who would respect workers and unions. When President Trump filled the vacancy with Justice Gorsuch, he sent a green light to corporate America that “right-to-work” would soon become the law of the land for public workers, and eventually all union members.

What is “right-to-work”?

“Right-to-work” is a clever scheme designed in the 1930’s by big business to keep unions weak and wages low. It essentially outlaws “union shops” – workplaces covered by a union contract where everyone pays either dues or their “fair share” of fees to cover the cost of representing workers and protecting good pay, benefits and work rules.

Encouraging “freeloaders”

Under “right-to-work” rules, union members can no longer vote to require everyone in their workplace to support the union by paying either dues or fair-share fees. Only voluntary contributions are allowed by “right-to-work laws” – and only if each worker provides specific, written authorization. Some “right-to- work” laws already in place in many states require unions to collect separate, signed authorization forms each year from individual workers in order to collect any dues money.

From South to North

For decades, right-to-work laws existed only in Southern States where business owners used them to keep unions weak, wages low and workplaces segregated. Now there are 28 states, including Wisconsin and Michigan, with these laws. If the Supreme Court rules as expected by June, “right-to-work-for-less” will become the law of the land for every public-sector union member.

Designed to frustrate & fail

When the Supreme Court rules on Janus, it won’t just restrict the ability of unions to collect dues or representation fees – it’s likely to also maintain the legal obligation for unions to represent all workers covered by union contracts– even those who don’t pay any dues or “fair share” fees to cover enormous costs of representation and arbitration. This “double-bind” is exactly how corporations behind the Janus case and “right to work” laws hope to frustrate, weaken and bankrupt unions.

Public workers first

The Janus decision will immediately affect public sector union members, but most observers believe corporations behind right-to-work will eventually ask the court to apply the same restrictive principle to all union members, including those with private-sector employers, including longshore, warehouse, industrial and service workers.

Impact on the IBU and beyond

The ILWU represents thousands of public-sector employees, the largest number being public ferry workers in Washington and Alaska who are represented by the ILWU’s Marine Division, the Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU). Hundreds more work for the Golden Gate Ferry District and other public employers including Port Police at Locals 65 and 22; Security personnel at Locals 9 and 28; Port pilots at Local 68, and more.

“Public employees are almost half of the IBU membership, so dealing with “right-to-work” is a top priority for our union now,” said newly-elected IBU President Marina Secchitano.

IBU Secretary-Treasurer Terri Mast prepared a memo suggesting a strategy for right-to-work that was distributed to the ILWU International Executive Board meeting that met in San Francisco on December 14-15.

“It’s important that we start to build an internal campaign now to educate all our members,” said Mast, who outlined a member-to-member outreach effort that envisions trainings to conduct “one-on-one” conversations which explain the need to stay strong and sign dues authorization cards.

ILWU strategy

“The success or failure of this anti-union attack will be determined by what we do this year,” said ILWU International President Bob McEllrath, “They picked this fight with public workers for 2018, so we have to start educating and training members now in order to come out on top when the court ruling comes down later this year.” McEllrath says it’s too late to stop the Supreme Court from ruling against workers in favor of the right-to-work laws long sought by big business. “That train left the station when Trump was elected President and he appointed Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.”

The best move now for the ILWU and other unions, McEllrath says, is the approach advocated by the IBU’s Terri Mast: a bottom-up, rank-and-file campaign to educate members by conducting thousands of ‘one-on-one’ conversations

“Our goal should be to convince 100% of union members that the only way to protect good contracts and power on the job is by voluntarily paying our union dues each month,” he says.

First steps

In December, McEllrath told the International Executive Board that he was directing the ILWU’s Organizing, Education and Communications Departments to help the IBU and other public workers in the ILWU by gearing-up for an educational campaign.

This article in The Dispatcher marks the beginning of a union-wide effort to inform members about the ILWU’s strategy for staying strong despite the “right-to-work” attack. Recent issues of The Dispatcher have also carried information about the looming threat posed by “right-to-work” (see articles in the sidebar) and future issues of The Dispatcher will devote coverage to the ongoing educational campaign.

Education through conversations

The centerpiece of the outreach effort envisioned by the IBU is a rank-and-file educational campaign, based around “one-on-one” conversations between members.

Training volunteer trainers

The IBU is planning to begin with a series of training workshops for rank-and- file leaders who commit to serve as volunteer trainers in their workplaces.

The International Union intends to prioritize the IBU’s large public employee membership in the Washing ton and Alaska ferry systems, plus other ILWU locals with large numbers of public employees.

The IBU training sessions for rank-and-file volunteer trainers would include time for them to work with organization’s elected leaders on a customized outreach plan. The goal is to identify and train enough volunteers to conduct one-on-one conversations with every public worker.

What works – and doesn’t

A review of what other unions have been doing – or not doing – to maintain a high percentage of voluntary dues paying members despite right-to-work laws, shows that programs are succeeding because of three factors:

Keys to success

First, unions have to commit time and resources to support an intensive, member-driven educational campaign. Just passing out flyers or mailing newsletters without personal conversations won’t work. It takes time and effort to talk with each member, but it has proven to be the most effective approach and there are no shortcuts.

Second, unions need to train volunteers how to engage in two-way conversations. The key is to have a real conversation that begins by asking questions, then listening carefully and making workers feel comfortable about sharing their true feelings. Members who want to share criticism or feedback about the union must feel heard and acknowledged – not dismissed or ignored.

Finally, a successful outreach campaign requires local unions to keep careful records that track who has been contacted in what areas, and who has signed a dues pledge card – along with notes of particular concerns that might make a worker hesitate to voluntarily pay dues.

Unions can get stronger

Unions that followed these steps are reporting that most of their co-workers are voluntarily paying dues and keeping their unions strong. Many also say the member-to-member approach has made their locals much stronger because workers are more involved.

High price of failure

On the other hand, there are examples where right-to-work has destroyed unions that failed to involve members, including some in Wisconsin that started too late and didn’t engage honestly and personally with co-workers. Those unions have now collapsed with only a small minority who are voluntarily paying dues to unions that have little or no power.

“Unions that don’t have strong membership support can quickly lose their dues base because of right-to-work laws, which triggers a financial crisis with staff layoffs and fewer financial resources to help members protect the contract – all of which makes joining the union less attractive,” says Mast, who describes that scenario as a “death spiral” that unions must avoid at all cost.

Unions across the country that are successfully using the member-to- member approach to overcome “right-to-work” laws will meet April 6-8 in Chicago at the Labor Notes conference where 2,000 participants will share lessons and experiences. The ILWU will participate in the event and prepare an article on “lessons learned” – along with a report on the ILWU’s own education campaign – that will be published in May issue of The Dispatcher.

Now’s the time to begin

Given what’s at stake, McEllrath says he wants to start the membership education campaign immediately.

“If we want to stay strong and united enough to deal with powerful employers, then we can’t afford any delays in engaging the rank-and-file.”

Categories: Unions

Lewis “Lou” Loveridge: important So Cal union leader passes

Thu, 12/28/2017 - 11:32

Lou Loveridge was an active participant and shaper of history during his ninety years that included a deep commitment to the ILWU and lifelong devotion to trade unionism that ended peacefully on November 16, 2017.

He was born on November 13, 1923 in the tiny community of Jefferson, South Dakota, a farm town located near the Missouri River in the farthest southeast corner of the state. His parents, Paul and Magel, raised their family with Lou and seven other children during the difficult years of the Great Depression, finally moving west to California in search of a better life when Lou was 14. When the Second World War erupted, Lou and his three other brothers – Fuzz, Chick and Joe – all served in the military. Lou joined the Navy where he became a Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class, assigned to duty aboard the U.S.S. Moctobi, an ocean-going tug that remained afloat until she was finally scrapped in 2012 at Mare Island, Vallejo, CA.

Lou had many loves, beginning with his wife Dorothy who passed  in 2000, his daughter Cheryl, and another daughter Stephanie who preceded him in death. His six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren were his pride and joy.  Other loves included a large number of pet dogs that he adored over many years; trying his luck at Las Vegas, Laughlin and local race tracks; his beautifully-restored bright-red Mustang; the Rams and Angels; collecting coins and donating to charities; listening to music and enjoying a glass of good wine.

His love for the ILWU and union causes of all kinds was also a deep devotion. Lou and all three of his brothers became longshoremen and members of Local 13. His skills and commitment were recognized by co-workers, who elected him to serve as their Vice President from 1973-74. A few years later he was elected to the top post at Local 13, serving as President during 19781979, again in 1982-1983 and a final term in 1986-1987.

He attended Longshore Caucus meetings regularly, both as a member and later as a Pensioner. After retiring from the job but not the struggle, he was elected President of the Southern California Pensioners’ Group. Three days before his passing, Lou celebrated his 90 birthday surrounded by a group of active Pensioners who brought him a cake.

“It was the last thing he ate,” said his daughter Cheryl. While confined to bed for his birthday, Lou expressed “how lucky I am to have the ILWU in my life,” and told everyone that he owed “everything I attained in life to the ILWU Harry Bridges.” A memorial service was held on December 2 in Rancho Palos Verdes that drew a large number of family, friends, union and community members who came from throughout the region to pay their respects to Lou.

Categories: Unions

Volunteers help members change for better lives

Tue, 12/19/2017 - 15:22

Caring Community: Among those attending the Bay Area ADRP Annual Coordinators Training in November were (L-R) John Castanho, Northern CA Representative Hunny Powell, Eric Linker, Eric Bowden, Ernie Aguayo, Sally Bowden, Bill Aviles, Shirley Aviles, Eric Sanchez, James Curtis, Henry Pellom, Herbert Burnley, Benefits Plan Office Manager Mario Perez, Tyrice C. Powell, Geoffrey Simpson, and Norman McLeod, (not shown but participating were Timothy Hughes, Stanley Scott, Steve Antunez and Larry Thomas.)

Each year, volunteers from different West Coast regions gather and receive a “thank you” for donating their time and effort to help fellow union members who are struggling to be free from alcohol and drug abuse. The volunteers all participate in the Alcoholism and Drug Recovery Program (ADRP) supported by the ILWU and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).

This year’s Bay Area event featured a wide range of guest speakers and discussions that covered addiction, medical research, treatment programs and more.

Most of the volunteers have firsthand experience with what it takes to kick a life-destroying habit, and they’re willing to talk openly about their struggles to stop using substances and behaving in ways that cause problems at home and work. They say it’s all part of being honest about who they are, and a good way to help connect with others who are suffering from the same problem they once had.

“I’ve been clean and sober for 29 years, but it was a struggle to quit then and it requires a constant effort to stay clean,” said Norman McLeod, who’s now retired but remains active in the Bay Area Pensioner’s Club in addition to his ADRP volunteering. “I want to help everyone, especially young people, avoid some of the mistakes we made by getting into drinking and drugs.”

Coast Benefits Specialist John Castanho offered some historical perspective that received nods of agreement from many in the room. “Earlier generations of longshore workers, including some in my family, thought that alcoholism was just a normal part of work.

That’s changing, thanks in large part to the work done by the ADRP Coordinators and volunteers like you.”

The ADRP program resulted from steady membership pressure that built over the years, beginning in 1956 when the issue was first debated openly at a Longshore Caucus meeting. The PMA and ILWU started a trial program in 1964 after arbitrator Sam Kagal asked the union and management what they were doing to help workers with addiction problems. Some locals, including 10, 13 and 21 had experimented with their own programs, but it wasn’t until 1980 that the ADRP was formally established to provide intensive help for all members.

“We’re the best place to get help and information without feeling judged or jeopardizing your job,” said Hunny Powell, who now coordinates the Bay Area ADRP and was once a substance user herself. “Back then I called George Cobbs for help and it changed my life,” she said, referring to the former ADRP leader who passed away in July, 2017.

Thanks to the pioneering efforts of Cobbs, Bill Ward, Ed Torres, Chick Loveridge and many others, the ADRP today helps hundreds of people get clean and sober each year up and down the coast. Mario Perez from the ILWU-PMA Benefit Plans Office reported that 247 claims for alcohol or drug treatment were processed by his office last year. Most of those involved first-time treatments, but members who need a second, third or even fourth chance to enroll in a high-quality residential treatment program are able to get help to recover.

In addition to the formal treatment programs, ADRP volunteers provide a daily lifeline of support and encouragement for dozens of co-workers who they contact each week.

“We have an impressive network of people who are trained and ready to help around the clock,” said Powell. “Our program is based on people who have been there, done that, and know what it takes to put the problem behind you – one day at a time. It starts with a phone call, and I look forward to hearing from more people who want help.”

Categories: Unions

ILWU disaster relief team provides solidarity and assistance to communities in Puerto Rico

Tue, 12/19/2017 - 12:25

Power to the people: ILWU mechanic Arch Chaney helped get the power
generator at the Mayaguez Zoo in Puerto Rico running. They then discovered the
control panel would need to be replaced. After returning to the mainland, the ILWU team worked to get a replacement part donated and shipped to the zoo. Photo by Benson MacForrest.

When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on September 20, it left millions of Americans on the island without access to clean water, food and electricity. After hearing news reports of the devastation and humanitarian crisis – and slow response by FEMA to provide emergency relief – ILWU Local 23 members were moved to action.

The ILWU is no stranger to disaster relief. In the past few months alone, ILWU members in the Pacific Northwest and California have donated money, supplies, and time to assist those impacted by wildfires in Oregon and California. The ILWU has always been quick to send financial assistance from the union’s disaster relief fund when tsunamis, earthquakes and other disasters harm working families and communities around the globe.

Local 23 President Dean McGrath reached out to Tote Marine to see if they would be willing help support a relief mission to aid Puerto Rican
families. McGrath was familiar with Tote’s regular service from Tacoma to Alaska – and he also knew they operated a run from Jacksonville to Puerto
Rico, and were familiar with servicing remote communities.

Tote immediately agreed to help. They covered most of the transportation costs for the relief crew and equipment.
Ports America donated four generators and four chainsaws; WCTS donated six cordless hand drills. Local 23 voted to provide financial assistance for the delegation. A total of 9 ILWU members went on the relief mission: six members from Local 23, two members from Local 21 and one member from Local 19. Each member of the delegation came prepared to camp for
the eight days during their relief effort and brought their own food, water and other supplies. The delegation members included Local 23 President Dean
McGrath, Local 23 members Arturo Guajardo, Arch Chaney, Benson Macforrest, Steven Conde and Derek Phill;
Local 22 members Craig Brix and Scott Hopson; and Local 19 member Jennifer Haynes-Borden.

“This was the most amazing experiences I’ve ever been a part of and also the most difficult thing logistically I’ve ever tried,” said McGrath. “Something like this helps build solidarity in the local. You get to work closely, side by side with your union brothers and sisters in a way that you don’t on the job. On the docks, we are all stuck in a piece of equipment. Here we are working
together, shoulder to shoulder, like the old days.”

McGrath said he tried reaching out to labor unions and aid groups that ILWU members could join to coordinate their efforts. He eventually found a group of military veterans called the Warfighter Disaster Response Team (WFDRT), who were already in Puerto Rico providing aid on the ground and welcomed the ILWU team to join them. The Afghanistan and Iraq combat veterans formed WFDRT after Hurricane Harvey struck Houston. Their mission was to utilize skills and training they had acquired while on active duty to help those affected by natural disasters or other emergencies. The ILWU relief delegation set up base at the Port of Mayaguez on the Northwest side of Puerto Rico. They worked with WFDRT to distribute
food and water to isolated villages and communities. They distributed as many as 8,000 meals a day.

“As longshoremen, we move cargo. We don’t own the cargo, nor do we own the businesses that ship the cargo,” said Local 23 member Benson MacForrest. “We are labor, and one thing Labor does well is take care of their people. That’s what we came to Puerto Rico to do.”

Another project that ILWU members took on was at the Dr. Juan A Rivera Mayaguez Zoo, where they cleared debris and fallen trees at the zoo. The three ILWU diesel mechanics that were a part of the delegation helped get the zoo’s Caterpillar generator running to restore power there. They discovered that after 15 years without being used, the generator’s control panel was not operating ILWU disaster relief team provides solidarity and assistance to communities in Puerto Rico properly and had to be replaced. After the ILWU team left Puerto Rico, they worked with Caterpillar to secure a replacement. Caterpillar donated the part and shipped it for free to Puerto Rico. The generator is now up and running.

ILWU ambassador: Arturo Guajardo’s Spanish speaking skills were invaluable
to the ILWU team. He helped to make contact with residents daily and explain what
they were doing. This helped make sure assistance got where it was needed. Photo by Benson MacForrest

“The Zoológico Dr. Juan A. Rivero recognizes the ILWU team for their selfless sacrifice in the recovery efforts,” said zoo officials in a recent statement. “This team was instrumental in the removal of trees that had fallen in difficult places and in difficult conditions that were extremely dangerous to remove. All of which the team did successfully, with no injuries because of a professional standard is rarely seen in the workforce.

“After the team had left the island, Arch Chaney and Dean McGrath, along with the team and their supporters continued to aid us in our mission. The team was instrumental in getting the Zoo a badly needed part for our Caterpillar Generator. This incredible fortitude by the union members reflects great credit upon themselves, their community, the International
Longshore Warehouse Union, our great nation and humanity in general.

“The situation of the zoo is the reflection of the island where communities had to empower themselves to be able to provide basic needs. There are volunteer heroes like you who do not shy away leave a legacy and make this a better world.”

Categories: Unions

ILWU Members from West Coast Ports Travel to Support KEX Grainhandlers

Tue, 12/19/2017 - 11:43

Top row, from left to right: Seth Barnhart, Lance Paul, Vince Meyer, Steve Utter Jr., Mark Boultinghouse, Ron Nelson, Alexis Nelson, Micah Brennan, Dustin Satcher, Tom Sager, Brandon Hendrick. Bottom row, from left to right: Mike Boyd, Larry Barnhart, Korbin Utter, Landon Utter, J.J. Burkey, Pat Brennan, Dave Thomas, Colton Aschoff. Present but not
pictured: Tim Hansen, Brian Grimes, Matt Aschoff, James Shimer, Chuck Knighten, Gary Gates.

More than 300 ILWU members from ports up and down the West Coast led a spirited march through a chilly Northwest rain on November 8 to make their voices loud and clear at the gate of Kalama Export Company (KEX).

They shouted their demand in unison:

What do we want?
Equal benefits!
When do we want them?

The “benefits” means the security of the ILWU-PMA pension and welfare plan. Ironically, the company that owns KEX already provides these benefits – but only to workers at one of the two grain export facilities that it owns on the Columbia River. Pacificor, a joint venture of some of the world’s most powerful companies, owns KEX at the Port of Kalama, Washington, and also owns Columbia Export Terminal (CET) 50 miles upriver at the Port of Portland, Oregon.Workers at the Portland terminal receive ILWU-PMA benefits, but workers at the Kalama terminal cope with an inferior health plan and a 401(k) account that offers no guarantees of long term retirement security.

“It’s not right that the same employer has one standard for its workers in Portland but another for its workers in Kalama,” said Local 21 President Billy Roberts. “The work is the same, the hazards are the same, and the need for family health benefits and retirement security are the same,” said Roberts. “But the employer has refused, for three years at the negotiating table, to meet the industry standard on benefits. KEX needs to meet the same standard for its grainhandlers in Kalama as it already does for its grainhandlers in Portland.”

Local 21’s support on Nov. 7 was unmistakable in a small town like Kalama: 300 Longshore workers chanted their message along the railroad tracks that led to KEX gates, and they gathered at KEX in bright orange shirts that read, “ILWU Grainhandlers United for Equal Benefits for KEX Workers.”

About 100 of those ILWU members traveled from as far away as Tacoma and Seattle to the north, and San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and Long Beach to the south. Elected officers from the ILWU International Headquarters and other West Coast ports took to the mic to urge Pacificor to meet the industry standard at KEX. International Vice President (Mainland) Ray Familathe, International Secretary- Treasurer Willie Adams, and Coast Committeemen Cam Williams and Frank Ponce De Leon all boosted the crowd with powerful messages of solidarity from the Coast Longshore Division.

“Pacificor’s representatives have flat-out refused to consider the union’s demand that the employer provide the same benefits in Kalama as they do in Portland,” said Cam Williams, Coast Committeeman. “Our message to Pacificor’s executives at Gavilon, Marubeni and ADM is to return to the negotiating table and reach an agreement that meets the
very simple demand of providing equal benefits at both facilities.” Pacificor is a joint venture including:

• Japan-based Marubeni (doing business as Gavilon)

• Japan-based Mitsubishi

• US-based Archer Daniels Midland

Proud Local 4 family member:
Jameson McEllrath enthusiastically carried his own weight – perhaps literally – at the Nov. 8 rally to support Local 21 members at KEX. Introducing himself to many of his 300 fellow marchers, Jameson borrowed KEX worker Pat Brennan’s picket sign and made his
support clear.

The other Northwest grain elevators that provide ILWU-PMA pension and welfare benefits are Columbia Export Terminal (CET) in Portland, Export Grain Terminal (EGT) in Longview, Louis Dreyfus Commodities (LDC) in Portland, Louis Dreyfus Commodities (LDC) in Seattle, TEMCO in Portland, TEMCO in Kalama, TEMCO in Tacoma, and United Grain Company (UGC) in Vancouver, WA.

Ownership of what is now the KEX terminal has changed hands several times over its 3-decade history. The workers at the terminal originally entered the union with an affiliated agreement, and are fed up with the employers’ substandard benefits.

The local newspaper, The Daily News, wrote a lengthy article about the march and noted that “dockworkers overwhelmingly rejected a previous company offer.”

“The grainhandlers at KEX have the support they need to stand strong,” said Williams.


Categories: Unions