West Coast dockworkers will honor an international “day of action” on Thursday, July 7th , by observing an “hour of silence” from 11am to 12 noon, in honor of workers who have died on the docks here and abroad.
The International Day of Action is being organized by the International Dockworkers Council (IDC) and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF). The groups represent thousands of dockworkers at ports throughout the world.
The union provided the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) employer group with advanced notice of the observance. The PMA has acknowledged and recognized the union’s request.
“We stand in solidarity with dockworkers in America and around the world who are calling attention to dangerous working conditions and the need to respect the rights of all workers,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath.
ILWU International Secretary-Treasurer Willie Adams led an ILWU delegation to Brisbane, Australia in early May that included Local 20 President Rudy Dorame and Local 30 member Darrell Nichols.
The ILWU leaders joined nearly 50 of their counterparts from 11 countries who comprise the Rio Tinto Global Union Network, which represents thousands of workers employed by Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest mining companies.
ILWU’s Rio Tinto contracts
The global group heard a report from Darrell Nichols who explained the story behind a renewed 5-year contract that was ratified last December by Local 30 members at Rio Tinto’s mine in Boron, CA. In 2010, workers waged an impressive fight when the company initiated a 15-week lockout.
“It was incredible to see some of the same Australian workers who came over to support our lockout fight back in 2010,” said Nichols. “I’ve worked at Rio Tinto for 40 years, and seen plenty of things in Boron, including their use of outside contractors at our mine, but I was shocked at the way the company has been treating workers in other countries.”
Local 20 President Rudy Dorame explained that his 67 members who load and store Rio Tinto products at a private dock in Los Angeles Harbor are gearing up to win a new contract in June of 2017.
“The comradery and support we felt from all the different unions was awesome,” said Dorame, “We have to be prepared for a big fight back home in Wilmington – if that’s what it takes to win a fair contract.”
Strikes and contingent workers
Union representatives from France and Iceland reported on their recent strikes at Rio and thanked the network for supporting those struggles.
Unions from every country reported that Rio Tinto has been increasing the number of temporary workers at their facilities. Representatives from Canada, Iceland, Madagascar and Namibia discussed their recent campaigns to address this problem. A hard-hitting video was shown that exposed workers being abused at Rio Tinto’s Madagascar operation, where the company has invested billions but failed to address poor living and working conditions there.
Domrame said he was particularly impressed by what workers in Madagascar, South Africa and Indonesia were doing to organize for better pay. Rio Tinto has been paying some workers as low as $167 per month.
The network agreed to tackle an ambitious solidarity agenda that will help union members challenge Rio Tinto on a global scale. A resolution was unanimously passed to support the Maritime Union of Australia which is pressing Rio Tinto to reverse their decision that replaced Australian seafarers with exploited foreign workers who are paid as little as $ 2 an hour.
Following the network meeting, participants went to Rio Tinto’s annual shareholder meeting in Brisbane. Network participants questioned Rio Tinto board members about the company’s global labor problems.
Andrew Vickers, who chairs the Rio Tinto Global Union Network and serves as General Secretary of Australia’s Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), reported that officials from Rio Tinto recently inquired about the possibility of establishing better labor relations around the world. Discussions to explore exactly what that might mean are continuing.
“We’re interested to see if Rio Tinto is just using new rhetoric – or willing to get serious about improving their treatment of workers and unions,” said International Secretary-Treasurer Willie Adams. He noted that the upcoming contract negotiations with Local 20 members will be one way to evaluate Rio Tinto’s claims.
Like many African-Americans of his generation, Williams’ family was based in the south. His father was a sharecropper and Josh remembered working in the fields with him to pick cotton when he was seven years old.
Williams excelled as an athlete in high school before joining the Army which allowed him to escape from the Jim Crow laws of the South. After basic training in Southern California where he learned to march and drill, Williams applied to be a paratrooper but was barred because he was African- American. After serving in the Korean War, he enrolled at City College in San Francisco where he joined a fraternity and experimented with modifying the drills that he learned in the military. The college Dean told him to stop drilling and study more.
When Williams joined the ILWU in 1959 at the age of 26, union members were in the middle of a difficult struggle – transitioning away from the labor-intensive “break-bulk” loading process involving “gangs” of men who sometimes labored together for weeks on a vessel – and moved towards the new container technology that raised productivity and profits, while cutting turn times and the size of the workforce.
Williams and his co-workers who survived this transition found themselves able to win new contracts with dramatically better pay and benefits, but he and others were also inspired by the Civil Rights Movement that was sweeping the country.
In 1965, Williams invented a new kind of “drill team” that would blend union solidarity themes with military drills and some slick dance moves. The following year they showcased the Local 10 Drill Team’s unique style at a mass march down Market Street to honor Cesar Chavez and his newly organized farmworker campaign. In 1967, they performed when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., visited Local 10, and continued performing at social justice events both large and small – in the Bay Area and across the country – including massive anti-war protests, May Day demonstrations, parades, receptions and ceremonies of all kinds.
A memorial service was held for Williams on June 15th at Duggan’s Serra Mortuary in Daily City. It was attended by approximately 100 family, friends and union brothers and sisters whose lives Josh has touched. The Local 10 Drill Team gave their general a final send off. Former drill team members from as far away as Los Angeles made the trip to say their final good byes to Josh. Following the service, a repast was hosted at the Local 10 Hall.
The ILWU International officers approved a $1,500 donation for the reception. Josh’s internment was held on June 22 at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery.
An estimated 100 ILWU volunteers provided most of the labor and resources for a successful community clean-up effort in partnership with Oakland District 5 Councilmembers Noel Gallo on Saturday, May 14. The impressive turnout topped results from the previous clean-up efforts held last October.
“ILWU volunteers are such a welcome and important part of our community,” said City Councilmember Noel Gallo who represents a working-class district in East Oakland where illegal dumping has left residents with more than their share of discarded waste.
In addition to contributing their labor, the ILWU contributed a total of 9 pickup trucks that were used to haul waste to a city collection site. The ILWU also contributed funds to help pay for food, drinks and t-shirts, courtesy of Locals 6, 10, 34, 91 and the Inland Boatmen’s Union (IBU).
A team 18 volunteers from Local 10 were assigned to clean-up Oakland’s Animal Services facility that had become overgrown with weeds, foliage and refuse.
Another group of volunteers from Local 6 and 10 went to the Peralta Hacienda Historical Park where they painted a small bridge and cleaned-up a creek that was clogged with illegally-dumped waste.
“I came with my family because all of us wanted to contribute,” said Maria Vilma Reyes, a member of Local 6 who works at Recycle America/Waste Management.
Yet another team spread out on city streets to collect piles of old mattresses, abandoned furniture and waste of all kinds from sidewalks, street corners, and vacant lots.
A crew of 36 divided into 12 “pick-up” teams that loaded the refuse into their trucks and hauled to the collection center.
As in previous efforts, recycling workers who belong to Local 6 have been a key part of the effort. A big turnout from members employed by Alameda County Industries joined with other recyclers who work for Waste Management, California Waste Solutions and BLT in Fremont.
The City was able to provide a few staff to help with the effort but far less than the number needed by residents to stay ahead of the illegal dumping. In an ideal world, the City of Oakland would be paying crews of municipal workers to get the job done, but Councilmember Gallo says that the City’s budget hasn’t allowed for enough staffing.
“This is a stop-gap measure until we can find a better solution that provides enough funding for all sorts of urgently-needed city services, including better enforcement and collection of illegal dumping in working-class neighborhoods,” said Gallo, who spends most of his weekends helping with clean-up drives. “Until we win that fight, the ILWU and other community groups are helping residents in a direct way and winning some well-deserved appreciation from all of us.”
Bernie Sanders’ Presidential campaign shocked the political establishment by morphing into a movement with clear working- class politics that inspired a new generation of young people and working families.
Sanders won 12 million votes and scored victories in 22 states, but his campaign came to a bittersweet conclusion on June 7 when the final major primary in California was lost by 13 points.
Turnout was short
The California primary election involved 3.5 million voters – an impressive number that dwarfed other states – but fell short of the 5 million who voted in the state’s 2008 primary when Clinton faced Obama. Turnout wasn’t helped by an announcement just before election day that Clinton had won enough delegates to secure the nomination.
Young & indies register
Sanders’ powerful appeal to younger and independent voters motivated record numbers to register before the election. But many who took that step checked a “no party preference” box instead of registering as “Democrats” – then found it nearly impossible to actually cast a vote for Sanders due to cumbersome election rules. California’s steady growth of “NPP” voters, now totaling 4 million, amounts to 24% of the electorate and will soon surpass the number of registered Republicans, so winning independent voters is increasingly important to candidates and a source of anxiety for both establishment parties.
Days after the election, California’s Secretary of State reported that 2.6 million ballots had yet to be counted. Roughly 1.8 million of them were “mail-in” ballots with 705,000 classified as “provisional.”
While it’s virtually impossible that the remaining ballots would reverse the outcome, the results could narrow somewhat by the July 15 deadline when the final results must be certified.
The Bernie alternative
“The Bernie Sanders movement presented us with a rare opportunity to support a candidate who was willing to stand with the working class,” said Cathy Familathe, President of the ILWU’s Southern California District Council that helped coordinate member outreach and education efforts. “Bernie showed us that it’s possible to be a viable candidate who can challenge the growing influence of business-as-usual, corporate- backed candidates in both parties,” she said. “ILWU members seemed to respond to what he was saying.”
Sanders in San Pedro
Sanders warmly embraced endorsements from more progressive unions, including the ILWU, Communications Workers, Nurses, Transit and other local unions during his campaign, including Steelworkers Local 675 in Carson, CA. Sanders’ May 27 visit to San Pedro was extra special because of the significant ILWU presence.
Thousands came with only 48-hours’ notice to attend a spirited and photogenic waterfront rally with cranes and container ships in the background.
Longshore leaders who spoke at the rally – as individuals, not union officials – included Local 13 President Bobby Olvera, Jr., ILWU Pacific Coast Pensioners President Greg Mitre and International Vice President Ray Familathe who introduced Sanders by declaring: “Bernie doesn’t worry about stepping on toes or hurting the feelings of one-percenters, Wall Streeters, and puffed-up business tycoons. He’s willing to stand with the working class and stay with the working class. That’s what he’s always done in Congress; that’s what he’s done on the campaign trail, and that’s why we’re supporting him for President of the United States. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Bernie Sanders!”
Sanders arrived at the podium wearing an ILWU jacket that appeared in photos and television appearances for several days. After thanking the many union and community members who attended, Sanders delivered the passionate stump speech that distinguished him as the first Presidential candidate since Franklin Roosevelt to come down hard on bankers and big business – while advocating for workers and all Americans who have been left behind as the rich have become richer and more powerful.
“We need a political revolution because one-tenth of one-percent in this country now owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent of Americans,” Sanders said.
He also struck a positive and hopeful tone, noting that “so many young people have supported our vision of social justice, economic justice, racial justice, and environmental justice.”
Sanders detailed his program for real change that included “breaking up the big banks, providing health care for all, reforming the criminal justice system and ending a corrupt political system that works for billionaires and corporations but excludes most Americans and threatens our democracy.” He concluded by noting that “real change always has come from the bottom-up, not the top-down. That’s the history of the labor movement, and that’s what our movement is about.”
Flurry of final campaigning
Sanders left San Pedro for a meeting with residents concerned about oil companies fracking in their neighborhood and held another rally before appearing as a guest on the “Real Time with Bill Maher” TV show. In the days that followed, Sanders visited California’s Central Valley before arriving at the Bay Area for a final push, including a rally in Oakland’s Oscar Grant Plaza where actor Danny Glover – introduced by Local 10 member and longtime friend Clarence Thomas – warmed up the large crowd before Sanders took the stage.
San Francisco finale
Sanders final California campaign rally was held on the eve before election day in San Francisco. With the sun setting on the Golden Gate Bridge behind him and a chilly wind buffeting thousands who gathered around him, Sanders urged activists to keep fighting for the issues raised by the campaign.
Election night & beyond
As polls closed the next day and the disappointing results came in, Sanders spoke to supporters in a large airplane hangar in Santa Monica. His address remained focused on the issues, but he also acknowledged speaking earlier that evening with President Obama and Hillary Clinton. He pivoted to focus more fire on Donald Trump, declaring that the “American people will never support a candidate who’s major theme is bigotry,” and added, “our vision is about more than defeating Trump – it’s about transforming the country.”
ILWU members in Philly
The next phase of the Presidential campaign will move to Philadelphia on July 25-28 where Democratic Party convention delegates will debate an issue platform and set rules for future elections – in addition to formally nominating the party’s candidate.
Many of the delegates will be members of labor unions who ran in little-noticed recently in each congressional district. One of those delegates is Local 23 President Dean McGrath. Another is Jeff Engels of Seattle, a member of the ILWU’s Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU) who serves as West Coast Coordinator of the International Transport Workers Federation. Joining them is Camron Pate, Local 29 leader and political activist who said she is, “excited and thrilled to be a delegate and looking forward to doing some serious work at the Philadelphia convention.” Another possible delegate is Local 63 member and SCDC President Cathy Familathe, who is a runner-up and at-large candidate for a possible delegate slot. Another alternate delegate is Local 23’s Zach Pattin.
“We’ll be travelling at our expense, but remembering all our brothers and sisters back home who want to see real change in this country, along the lines that Bernie Sanders advocated,” said Engels.
ILWU International President Bob McEllrath says he remains hopeful about the lasting impact of Bernie Sanders’ effort. “Sanders re-shuffled the deck and shook-up the political establishment, which is exactly what America needs now. He got the ball rolling, but the rest of us have to keep pushing for real change, even when it’s unpopular with those in power.”
- ILWU activists convince City Council that port access is critical to the region’s jobs and economy
A controversial plan to build a sports stadium in Seattle’s “South of Downtown” (SoDo) industrial area next to the Port of Seattle was rejected by the City Council on May 2.
The 4 1/2-year struggle pitted a billionaire hedge fund tycoon and powerful developers against a community coalition of progressives, trade unions, the maritime business community, Port of Seattle, ILWU leaders and members from several locals. The coalition worked together to protect hundreds of good-paying waterfront jobs that would be threatened by the stadium’s inevitable traffic jams and gentrification.
More than 100 rank-and-file longshore workers spoke out and participated in public hearings. In addition to the community support, the ILWU’s lawmakers in Olympia – resulting from work by the Puget Sound District Council’s lobbyist.
The deciding vote involved whether to turn over a public street to the private developers. That proposal was defeated by the City Council in a dramatic 5-4 vote.
“This fight was always about finding the best location for a new stadium – which never should have been in SoDo,” said John Persak, President of the ILWU’s Puget Sound District Council, who helped coordinate the fight. He credited the victory to diverse community support that included ILWU members and pensioners who attended meetings and made phone calls to City Council members.
Former Local 19 President Cam Williams made the decision more than four years ago to challenge the SoDo location. Williams, who now serves as a Coast Committeman at the ILWU’s San Francisco headquarters, made the key decision with members in 2012 to challenge the stadium location and enlist expert legal help from the Washington Forest Law Center, a respected public-interest environmental group.
A slew of court hearings, mailings, news reports, editorials, and debates followed – sometimes generating intense pressure against the union from Seattle’s political establishment. Persak credits current Local 19 President Rich Austin, Jr. for continuing to support the fight after being elected President where he worked with other ILWU Locals and the District Council.
Persak is careful to note that the SoDo Stadium plan was wounded on May 2, but not killed. “We’ll have to remain vigilant to make sure our support from the Council remains solid because the pressure from the political establishment to build in SoDo is enormous.”
Local 10 Drill Team members rolled out the red carpet to honor their longtime leader, “Captain Josh,” with a surprise party on April 30th that celebrated the Team’s 50th Anniversary.
Captain Josh was completely surprised and nearly speechless when he entered the OVO Tavern and Eatery in Oakland to discover the secret celebration was being held in his honor.
“Drill Team members and their families just wanted to surround Captain Josh with all our love and appreciation for everything that he’s given to our union and the Drill Team,” said Local 10’s Sabrina Giles.
Giles co-hosted the event with Local 10’s Trevel Adanandus who owns the OVO Tavern and donated the cake, hired a photographer and produced the event’s backdrop. She thanked a hard-working team of volunteers including Dr. Drew, Lori Marchell, Marie Bacchus from the IBU, Local 10 Business Agent John Hughes, and all Local 10 members who helped pay part of the tab. A personalized cake with three “edible photos” honored the Drill Team’s 83-year-old leader.
Further honors came later in the evening when Drill Team members presented their leader with a certificate of appreciation, a large plaque and bestowed him with a new title – elevating the former “Captain” to “General” Josh Williams.
Williams, who rarely speaks at great length, said he was truly touched by all the honors and recognition. He thanked everyone
for their generosity, then broke out with a special rendition of his “7th Street Song” that celebrates African American history in San Francisco; recalling life in the City’s Fillmore neighborhood, where barbeque and jazz joints flourished after the Second World War – along with a host of colorful street characters who are mostly now gone. When Williams finished his song, he was followed by more performers from the Drill Team ranks, including Janice Smith and Paul from ‘da Hall.
As the long night of celebrating drew to a close, Williams was treated to a complimentary night in a nearby hotel, which spared him a late night drive across the Bay Bridge to his San Francisco home.
“I’m ready to have one of these younger people take over at some point,” said the General, “but I’ve still
got more time until they’re ready to step up.
Big rally in Portland
Bernie Sanders’ decisive May 17 primary victory in Oregon was preceded by a May 3rd rally in Portland’s Shemanski Park that attracted more than 750 union members and community supporters. The rally was initially planned by Local 8 member Jeff Smith to be held at the Local 8 hall but moved it to the park because of growing interest and the bigger crowd that came to the event.
ILWU officers attended the rally including ILWU International President Robert McEllrath, ILWU International Vice President (Hawaii) Wesley Furtado and President Alan Coté of the Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU).
Unions represented at the rally included, the ILWU, the IBU, Communications Workers of America, Amalgamated Transit Union, the National Nurses United and the Postal Workers Union.
Bernie Sanders was not able to appear at the rally, but Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) spoke at the event. They highlighted issues that have mobilized millions of Americans to support the Sanders campaign: opposition to so-called “free trade” deals like NAFTA, CAFTA and the TPP that have devastated workers, ending mass incarceration of poor people and people of color, climate change, the lack of Wall Street regulations and a campaign finance system that leaves working people virtually voiceless in the political process.
Vice President Furtado introduced Congresswoman Gabbard at the event. He thanked her for the strong support she has given the ILWU in Hawaii and for her commitment to the working men and women of Hawaii.
Smith said there was a strong turnout from ILWU members at the event, including people who traveled from Seattle and the Bay Area to attend.
Sanders’ overwhelming support in Oregon was confirmed when he scored a 12-point victory margin on Election Day – and set the stage for a showdown in California’s June 7 primary.
So Cal Organizes
Southern California ILWU Locals geared-up for their final month of outreach and educational work before the June 7 primary election with a campaign kickoff event for ILWU volunteers on May 5 that was attended by 100 volunteers, including members, pensioners, and family – plus community leaders and special guests from other unions.
Southern California Pensioners Group President Greg Mitre served as Master of Ceremonies. He was joined by SCDC President Cathy Familathe of Local 63, SCDC Legislative Representative Floyd Bryan of Local 13, and former ILWU International President David Arian, who now serves on the Port Commission.
“We have four weeks to contact and educate ILWU members about Bernie Sanders before the election,” said Greg Mitre on May 5. “We need to make sure everyone we know is informed and registered to vote.”
On May 17, Bernie came to the Stub Hub Center in Carson where an estimated 20,000 supporters filled the stadium for a supercharged evening rally. Local 13 President Bobby Olvera, Jr., joined other ILWU officers and members who attended the big event.
“The diversity of the crowd showed his support crosses racial, gender and socioeconomic lines,” said Olvera, Jr. “He reminded us that a great country requires dignity and security for all our citizens – not just luxuries for the one percent and corporations.”
Nor Cal Outreach
ILWU Local 6 is serving as a hub for the Northern California District Council’s outreach effort. A mobilization on Saturday, May 21 sent volunteers out to Bay Area neighborhoods where they contacted ILWU members about Bernie Sanders.
On May 18, Bernie Sanders appeared at three Northern California locations, beginning in San Jose where he was met by a large crowd that included many union members. In the afternoon, he joined a rally in downtown San Francisco to support hundreds of hotel workers and custodians.
“We need to grow the unions in our country so that workers can negotiate fair contracts, fair wages, and fair working conditions,” Sanders told more than 1,000 supporters who jammed downtown streets in the financial district. Among those marching in San Francisco were members of Local 6 and Local 10.
The day concluded with an early evening rally at Waterfront Park in Vallejo, a working-class community that’s been hit hard by foreclosures and personal bankruptcies caused by the Wall Street financial crisis. Members of Local 6 and 10 attended the event that attracted more than 10,000 supporters who came on short notice.
“The crowd was impressive and peaceful,” said ILWU Coast Benefits Specialist= and Local 10 member John Castanho. “He hit all the issues that ILWU members care about.”
The June issue of The Dispatcher will include analysis of the California Primary and next steps in the Presidential campaign.
The Coast Longshore Division Caucus convened from April 18-22 in Panama City, Panama. This historic meeting was the first Longshore Caucus to meet outside of the United States or Canada. More than 100 caucus delegates, fraternal delegates, and pensioners attended the Caucus.
“The Panama Canal Division is an important part of the ILWU family. We are here to show our support for the workers in this new division,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath.
The Panama Canal Division was formed by a unanimous motion at the 2012 ILWU Convention. Discussions about the possible affiliation began in 2002 when International Vice President Ray Familathe explored the issue. In 2010, President McEllrath and Vice President Familathe began talking about formal affiliation with Londor Rankin, General-Secretary of the Panama Canal Pilots Union.
Today, the Panama Canal Division includes 250 members of the Panama Canal Pilots and 2,580 dock workers from SINTRAPORSPA, the Union of Dockworkers in the Ports of Balboa and Cristobal.
On the first day of the Caucus, General-Secretary Rankin of the Panama Canal Division welcomed the delegates to Panama. Rankin introduced the vocal group “The Three Divas” who sang acapella versions of the Panamanian and American national anthems.
“We gather here to strengthen the strategic alliance between our unions and to send a loud and clear message to our counterparts that we continue to be united and grow stronger regardless of our nationality,” said Rankin. “We know we are not alone in the struggle to improve the wages and conditions for all of our members. We are proud to be among you, and we are honored that you have chosen Panama as the place for your Caucus.”
Several Panamanian media outlets published articles about the historical significance of the ILWU Coast Longshore Division’s first Caucus in Panama. The publication, Panama On reported in Spanish, and the translation is: “This meeting, which is the first to take place in Panama, aims to reaffirm the existing strategic alliance between these two unions, which is mainly based on the noble principle of international solidarity, which has come in handy in the struggles of workers around the world, in this case, in the maritime port sector.”
Later that night, the Panama Canal Pilots hosted a dinner for the delegates at their union hall, where caucus delegates had an opportunity to meet with members of the Panama Canal Division. Later in the week, the Panama Canal Pilots hosted a dinner at the Miraflores Locks, demonstrating the 103-yearold lock operations viewable from an outdoor deck reserved for ILWU Coast Longshore Division guests.
The Caucus was dedicated in the memory of a number of individuals who have recently passed including Ralph Rooker (Local 10-retired), Hugh Hunter (Local 13-retired), Jesus Puga (Local 13-retired), Gordon Neely (Local 19), Robert Stevens (Local 19), Dale Martinis (Local 19), Jarrett Van Curen (Local 19), Richard Cavalli (Local 34-retired), Emile Lewis (Local 34), Donja Grant (Local 34), Jim Crest (Local 40-retired), Bill Hallet (Local 63), Anthony Harris, Jr. (Local 63), Domenick Miretti (Local 63-retired), John Vlaic (Local 94-retired), William Kendall (Local 98), and Oliver Pickford (Local 98-retired).
Safety, technology, training, and political action
The Caucus dealt with a range of issues facing the industry and union members, including the impact of megaships on port congestion and port infrastructure, automation, registration, safety, training, contract administration and jurisdiction. As election season heats up for the US presidential and congressional races, political action was also a high priority for the Caucus. A resolution was passed to motivate members to contribute to the ILWU’s Political Action
Fund, and money was allocated for the 2016 Political Action Program. PMA’s contract extension request In March 2016, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) sent President McEllrath a request to discuss an extension of the 2014-2019 Longshore Contract. President McEllrath submitted this request to the ILWU Coast Longshore Division Caucus and the issue was discussed. In keeping with the ILWU Coast Longshore Division’s democratic process, the Caucus has submitted the matter to the membership for review and input before taking any official action.
ILWU send off
The Caucus honored ILWU Canada President Mark Gordienko, who is retiring at the end of his current term. The Caucus also paid tribute to Southern California Coast Director and ADRP Representative Jackie Cummings, who is also retiring.
SINTRAPORSPA members visit
Alberto Ochoa, Secretary General of SINTRAPORSPA, which represents more than 2,580 longshore workers in the Port of Balboa in Panama and is affiliated with the Panama Canal Division, spoke at the Caucus. “We are grateful to you because you played a key role in the organization of SINTRAPORSPA,” Ochoa said.
In keeping with the tradition of warm Latin American greetings, Ochoa said he brought a “fraternal hug” for all in attendance and said, “We are honored that you chose to have this meeting in Panama.”
It had been much rumored for weeks that presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders would come to San Pedro. The question was always when?
Random Length News, with our close ties to the ILWU and the local Bernie campaign office, only found out about this event on May 25, the Wednesday before the Friday rally. I was surprised that it was as well organized as it was considering all of the logistics and security needed to put on this event.
Only about 1,800 to 2,000 people but they were solid Bernie supporters — the California Nurses Association, United Teacher Los Angeles, United Steelworkers and, of course, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. All of these unions gave rousing endorsements of Sanders. They also spoke about most of his campaign themes.
When Bobby Olvera Jr., the president of ILWU 13, who was only there as “one of the harbor workers,” asked the crowd what the motto of the ILWU was, the response was overwhelming, “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
And that, Olvera said, “was true for every American worker in the country!”
The spirits were high and the crowd was excited by the time Sanders took to the podium. He spoke about about universal healthcare, free college tuition to public universities and the rigged economy that Wall Street and the too-big-to-fail banks controlled.
With all of the excitement, it was difficult to read what this rally really meant except for who was missing from the political line up: Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Joe Buscaino and even Rep. Janice Hahn did not attend even though her district office is but a block away from the Harbor rally site. All three of these have endorsed Hillary Clinton and are pledged super delegates to the convention.
“How will they vote when their district go[es] for Bernie in the primary?” Olvera asked.
The only two candidates attending were Warren Furutani, who is running for the 35th State Senate District and long shot 44th Congressional candidate Marcus Musante, running against Isadore Hall. Hall also was absent from this rally.
April 5-8th, 2016 ILWU Canada held their 34th convention at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel in Surrey, BC, Canada.
In attendance were 110 delegates joined by 12 international delegates including ILWU International President Robert McEllrath, ILWU International Vice President (Mainland) Ray Familathe, and ILWU International Secretary-Treasurer Willie Adams,
ILWU Local 13 President Bobby Olvera, Jr, and four delegates from ILWU Alaska Longshore Division,
International Transport Workers Federation President Paddy Crumlin, and delegates from the Maritime Union of Australia, the Maritime Union of New Zealand, including MUNZ National Secretary Joe Fleetwood.
ILWU Canada President Mark Gordienko announced that he will be retiring at the end of his current term. Delegates applauded his service to the union and President McEllrath presented him with a gift on behalf of the ILWU International.
At the end of convention, nominations took place, and the results are as follows:
President: Robert Ashton by Acclamation.
1st Vice President: Shawn Nolan by Acclamation.
2nd Vice President: Steve Nasby by Acclamation.
3rd Vice President: Romeo Bordignon and Dale McEachern running for the position. Election Results to follow.
Secretary-Treasurer: Bob Dhaliwal by Acclamation
Hours after the ILWU Executive Board’s endorsed Bernie Sanders for President on March 24, members were scrambling to help the union-friendly candidate who is who standing up for unions and the working class. During the next 48 hours, ILWU members heard union radio ads in Hawaii, joined massive rallies in Seattle and attended caucus meetings in Alaska.
Western winning streak
Support in those three states allowed Sanders to score decisive caucus victories on March 26 – taking 70% of the votes in Hawaii; 73% in Washington State and 80% in Alaska. A stunning upset victory came a week later in Wisconsin where Sanders defeated Clinton by 13 points. Another smaller victory came a few days later in Wyoming where Sanders won big again – giving him victories in 8 of the 9 most recent contests.
Challenges back east
The April 19 primary in New York is where pundits predicted Sanders would stumble. Clinton once held a massive 60-point lead in the Empire State that dwindled to just 6 points, making Sanders the eager underdog who chased Clinton during the final week with his message about fighting political corruption, Wall Street greed and empowering the 99 percent of Americans who work for a living.
Sanders faces another series of big East Coast primaries on April 26, including Pennsylvania and Maryland, before turning to Oregon on May 17 where Jeff Smith of ILWU Local 8 is helping members get informed, involved and organizing a rally at the union hall on May 3.
After Oregon, the scene will shift to California where a fierce battle is expected over the nation’s largest pool of delegates that will be decided on June 7. Polls show that Clinton’s big early lead in the Golden State is withering to just a few points.
Longtime Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU) member Jeff Engels, is encouraging all ILWU members – especially those living in California – to “feel theBern.” On March 19 he helped form a group in Port Townsend, WA, that held a successful march of 200 Sanders supporters. The event was organized in just 12 days, working with local unions and native leaders. “If we can quickly pull something like this together in Port Townsend, I know members in California can do it,” said Engels. Keys to victory
Early voting by mail will account for nearly half of California’s ballots. Requests for a mail ballot can be made until May 30, and new voters can register until May 23. The same deadline applies for voters who wish to change their political party, which is important because only those who register as Democrats or choose “no party preference” will be allowed to vote for Bernie Sanders in the California primary.
ILWU International President Bob McEllrath is encouraging members to get registered and vote. “Bernie Sanders supports working class people, and he deserves our vote – whether we’re in a union or not. It’s not just for us, it’s about all of us.”
ILWU Local 13 member Vivian Malauulu scored an impressive election victory on April 12, defeating a well-connected incumbent and winning a seat on the Long Beach Community College Board of Trustees.
Malauulu won nearly 60% of the tally – soundly defeating her establishment-backed rival who resorted to anti-union attacks that flopped with voters.
“I am very, very proud of the clean and well-organized campaign that we ran – and am exceptionally proud of our team of committed volunteers,” she said. “Our campaign was fueled by a grassroots effort and propelled by good, old-fashioned hard work.”
Before the votes were counted, Malauulu shared some candid thoughts with supporters, acknowledging that she had never worked so hard for anything in her life – wearing out the soles on several pairs of shoes and carrying around piles of precinct folders.
“I spent every waking moment – and quite a few sleeping ones – trying hard to connect with the voters in our district.”
In addition to her work on the docks, Malauulu has been a teaching journalism classes on a part-time basis at Long Beach City College where she was active in the faculty union and the Trades Advisory Council.
Her formula for success was built on a winning strategy:
- She built a team of dedicated volunteers by drawing on years of relationships built through work with unions, churches, sports clubs, charities, and community organizations.
- She says support from the ILWU and her teacher’s union at Long Beach State were important – but worked hard to build a broad-based coalition.
- She organized a network of volunteers and rallied supporters to walk every one of the 54 precincts in her district at least once – some twice, and a few were visited three times.
- Thousands of calls were made to registered voters who also received mailings and email/text messages.
- They kept careful track of each contact with a voter, and followed-up with those who had questions or wanted more information.
- They attended numerous public events in order to contact voters and raise the campaign profile in the community.
- She tried to make her team of volunteers and supporters feel like they were part of a big, loving family. Efforts were made to consistently thank and appreciate volunteers for their work.
- She wasn’t afraid to ask for campaign donations. Like Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders, she built her campaign treasury on lots of small campaign contributions that added up to a powerful resource.
- She sought endorsements from respected community and political leaders, including Congress member Janice Hahn.
Malauulu thanked her longshore brothers and sisters for their support.
“The ILWU was very supportive of my campaign and hosted three fundraisers on my behalf. One was in San Pedro for our LA ILWU, one was in Long Beach for our LB ILWU, and then again the week before Election Day to kick off our Get Out the Vote efforts, which Local 13 President Bobby Olvera, Jr. spearheaded together with Latinas Lead California. Cathy Familethe, President of the Southern California District Council, distributed both an ILWU voter slate card and a personalized postcard mailer on my behalf that was sent throughout the college board district. The SCDC also hosted a member-to-member phone bank the day before Election Day where ILWU members who live in Long Beach were contacted by ILWU volunteers and reminded to vote.”
The victory on election night left her feeling grateful for everyone who made it possible.
“I want to express my deep, heartfelt gratitude to my tireless campaign team, my faithful supporters, my incomparable volunteers, my dedicated colleagues, my loyal friends, my ILWU brothers and sisters, my incredible students, my committed prayer warriors, my encouraging Mami, my loving husband, and my four precious children for running this campaign with me. I couldn’t have done this without you!”