Union History

IBU - Thu, 10/29/2015 - 14:07
Categories: Unions

ILWU member leads effort to help others left behind on harbor area streets

ILWU - Thu, 10/29/2015 - 12:17

Local 23 member David Gonzalez. Photo by Slobodan Dimitriov

Local 26 member David Gonzales is leading an impressive but quiet effort with other volunteers in Wilmington who serve hundreds of meals each week to homeless and hungry people in the harbor area.

“I know what it’s like to be on the streets because I was there once myself,” says Gonzales, tracing his ordeal that began when he was physically and mentally abused almost daily by a stepfather “from the time I was 3 until I was 13.” When he was able to fight back, his mother said he’d have to leave the house, so he ended up in Banning Park. Gonzales tried to continue at school while he was living on the streets, but eventually dropped out and became involved with drugs and gangs.

“I can see now that the gang was important to me because I didn’t have a father, and it filled a need for a while,” he says. “Gang life gave me some security, but also filled my mind with distrust of anyone who wasn’t exactly like us. After years of “gangbanging” and coloring much of his skin with tattoos, he began to look for a way out of his dependency on drugs and the street life, but getting out was difficult. That’s where the union came in.

“I’m from a 4th generation Wilmington family here, so I knew how important the union was to the community, but I never realized that it would be the thing that helped me turn my life around.”

Gonzales found work as a guard with ILWU Local 26, providing security on the docks at the ports of LA and Long Beach. What he found was a surprising degree of support from co-workers who made a difference in his life.

“When my baby girl was just 9 months old, she had a life-threatening heart defect that required a dangerous surgery.” Gonzales said Local 26 union steward Mark Reyes offered to become her godfather, something “nobody had ever done for me and my family before.”

A similar act of kindness and compassion happened several years ago when he ended a difficult personal relationship and took full responsibility for his 7 children.

“It was holiday time and one of the union sisters at work, Christina Le Blanc who’s the Lead Sargent at Hanjin, asked me how I was planning to celebrate Christmas. I told her that it was going to be a little rough that year but that we’d be fine. She went out on her own and asked the other guards to pitch-in, and they made it possible for my kids to have something special during that difficult time.”

As the life of gang-banging and drug addiction was left behind, Gonzales says he now lives his life in recovery following a simple philosophy of what he calls “paying it forward.”

It started with an inspiration to buy boxes of frozen hamburger patties that he could grill for hungry people still stuck on the street. He quickly found others willing to help and says many of those volunteers were once living on the streets themselves during a difficult stretch. “We know what it’s like to be out there.”

Using Facebook, Gonzales has mustered a volunteer crew that prepares hundreds of sack lunches every Thursday, then distributes the meals to people living in the margins from Wilmington to LA’s Skid Row.

“We made 490 sack lunches last week and could have done a lot more but we just ran out of time,” he says, noting that groups and individuals are donating everything from bread and lunch meat, to their own labor. “We don’t have a formal non-profit group, but we do get the job done because everyone pitches-in to help the group that we call: ‘Heart of the Harbor/Helping Those in Need.’”

The group also helps with special needs or particular requests, such as one for diapers and wipes that was recently fulfilled with an online request to volunteers.

The biggest feeding effort so far took place on Saturday, October 3rd at Wilmington’s “Greenbelt Park,” between Watson and “L” Street. Volunteers began arriving at 7am to cook and prepare a hot lunch for hundreds from 12 noon onward. Among the many helpers were several of Gonzales’ seven children who are regular volunteers.

The first volunteer to join Gonzales was Nikki Fabela, Wilmington resident and daughter of Local 13’s Paul Fabel. “She was the first person who said she’d help me,” said Gonzales, “and her gesture of kindness is something I’ll never forget.”

“We know there are at least 8 people who have gotten off the streets and turned their lives around because of our help,” says Gonzales, who points to the turnaround in his own life as proof that dramatic changes are possible.

Gonzales says that their project is open to everyone and is not part of a church, but he says they do try to pause at some point during the busy volunteer times to give thanks and reflect on the pain and suffering faced by so many in the world – and how volunteers can make a difference with love and action.

Gonzales emphasizes that their group is eager to partner with individuals and like-minded organizations who can provide resources such as transitional housing, mental health services and recovery/rehabilitation support.

“My 17 years in the union have provided me with so much support that made my turnaround and recovery possible,” he says, adding that it has also expanded his perspectives, noting that he’s been able to meet people from all over the world and get beyond the small-minded thinking and bigotry that came with life in a gang. “I now see that all of us have so much in common, instead of focusing on difference like I used to, about how people looked or talked. I am truly grateful to all of my union brothers and sisters who have shown me so much solidarity and positivity during my years on the waterfront.”

Categories: Unions

PSR Fleet Memo for October 24 2015

IBU - Wed, 10/28/2015 - 08:45
Categories: Unions

Press Release

IBU - Mon, 10/26/2015 - 16:25
Categories: Unions

IBU Organizing

IBU - Mon, 10/26/2015 - 11:11
Workers win settlement, back pay from Alaska fuel distributor DUTCH HARBOR, Alaska (Oct. 26, 2015) — In March, The Stand

Concrete Examples of Non Labour Relations Board Unions: Part II

IWW - Sat, 10/24/2015 - 19:48

By the Admin Staff - Recomposition, October 8, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

This is the second part of a series of concrete examples and very brief summaries of organizations that have some component of direct action and a form of collective bargaining that operate outside the labour relations framework. The following are IWW projects that had aspects of Labour Relations Board campaigns to them but were essentially not oriented towards the LRB. You will also notice that these examples are American. One key difference in the American context is the presence of a longer and richer history of what is called “minority unionism” that is unions that seek to build majorities from minorities but are capable of acting as a part of the workforce that doesn’t always represent a majority pro-union group as verified by card check or a board election.

2. Corridor Campaigns: 

a). Montpelier Downtown Workers Union
Corridor campaigns were a popular model for IWW branches to experiment with in the early to mid 2000’s. This campaign started as a corridor campaign under the United Electrical Workers Union. An independent union with a history of Communist leadership. They were based on having small committees in small shops spread out over a geographic area with a similar constellation of businesses, usually retail corridors.

This campaign started under the sponsorship of a workers centre run by the UE and ran for a few years. One of the more innovative elements of this campaign was the grievance committee combined with stewards that were assigned to a geographic area. Non members were told of the presence of a stewards in their area and if they had problems to go the member of the MDWU who would help them resolve problems. They also had a grievance committee that would pool resources to tackle bigger tougher problems.

Eventually the UE tried to push it to sign more contracts, as the campaign was failing they signed on with the IWW but it continued it’s decline and folded.

Advantages: Multiple committees in multiple shops. Geographic stewards, grievance committee. Had a clear way to address smaller concerns that didn’t warrant mass industrial action but weren’t simply individual gripes either.

Disadvantages: Pressure from business union sponsor to go for contracts. Small shops prone to high turnover, going public in small shops allows the boss to charm neutrals and organise anti union elements easily.

b). South Street Workers Union
South Street was a campaign in a retail corridor in Philadelphia started by the IWW branch there. It had multiple committees in multiple small shops. They agitated around workplace issues as well as workers issues off the job including a campaign around transit fares. The campaign lasted a number of years and built up the branch but eventually folded.

Advantages: Maintained a function organisation between small multiple shops over a few years. Agitated around issues in the community and mobilised the community around non workplace demands as well as making some small gains in shops.

Disadvantages: High turnover wore the campaign down.

3. The IWW and Bike Couriers:

There is very little documentation that is easy to track down and I have a few articles I intend to put online but the Bike Courier campaigns of the early 2000s had a tremendous influence on the development of Direct Unionism or Solidarity Unionism. The key organisers in these campaigns had a huge impact on the IWW and played a central role in the transition from being mostly a radical labour history club to a small fighting union with a different program from the rest of the labour movement. The longest running and most high profile campaign was in Chicago where the IWW maintained a presence in the courier industry for ten years. They had committees spanning multiple shops and won grievances against employers as well as mounting campaigns against building management companies to make their buildings more accessible to the couriers that served their tenants.

There were also bike courier committees in Portland, New York, Boston and San Francisco to name a few others.

Advantages: Extremely flexible organisations, took on issues on and off the job. Well developed conception of non contractual unionism. Multiple campaigns in multiple shops in Chicago. Also very structured and formal in Portland and Chicago, clear meeting agendas, rules of order and elected officers.

Disadvantages: Never broke out of the bike courier sub culture in a meaningful way. Very oriented towards a largely young and urban counter culture workforce.

read more

Categories: Unions

November 2015 Newsletter

IBU - Fri, 10/23/2015 - 15:52
Categories: Unions

National Politics

IBU - Thu, 10/22/2015 - 17:19
Union Members Seem To Want Bernie Sanders Over Hillary Clinton. Will Labor Leadership Follow Them.
Categories: Unions

Blue & Green Labor

IBU - Wed, 10/21/2015 - 22:17
p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; line-height: 120%; }a:link { } How Do We 'Change Everything' Without Pitting Workers Against the Planet.
Categories: Unions

ILWU members tell Oakland City Council to kill coal terminal plan

ILWU - Wed, 10/21/2015 - 15:16

An overflow crowd at the Oakland City Council meeting on September 15 heard ILWU leaders taking passionate positions against a controversial coal export terminal that developers and coal industry lobbyists want to build on a private dock with public subsidies. Six hundred citizens submitted requests to speak at the hearing which began at 4pm and went late into the night.

Developer hiding

Master developer Phil Tagami was noticeably absent from the public hearing on the coal export terminal which has become a centerpiece of his redevelopment scheme that promised to transform Oakland’s former Oakland Army base into a mix of modern warehouses, intermodal hub and a “state of the art” privately-owned break-bulk dock.

Jobs Promised

To win crucial political support, Tagami claimed his project would create thousands of good-paying jobs, and told community and labor groups that most of those jobs would be union. But many of the groups negotiating with Tagami were unfamiliar with industry employment practices, which may have allowed the developer to use inflated and unrealistic numbers. Now Tagami has hitched his project’s to a controversial coal export terminal, and suggested that the entire project and thousands of jobs depend on the coal deal.

Coal lobbyists & lawyers

Instead of appearing in person at the September hearing, Tagami hired a slew of well-dressed lawyers, lobbyists, businessmen and preachers to make his case for the coal terminal. Lawyers made thinly-veiled threats that lawsuits would be filed if the developers didn’t get their way. One Washington D.C. lawyer declared that the city had no authority to regulate or limit railroads shipping coal to the export terminal.

Buying turnout

But despite hiring big guns, Tagami’s team had a hard time finding actual “concerned citizens” who supported the coal terminal, so they resorted to paying people to fill seats and wear t-shirts. The plan backfired when news reporters interviewed apparent “coal supporters” in the audience who quickly admitted they only came because they were paid. Some even expressed confusion about which side they were supposed to support.

Buying loyalty

The pay-to-play tactics included generous “offers” from the coal lobbyists to local churches and environmental groups – in exchange for backing the coal terminal. A team of former executives from the Port of Oakland reportedly offered church leaders 7 cents for every ton of coal that would be exported; environmental groups were offered a more generous 12 cents per ton. The environmental groups declined the offer; while some church leaders apparently accepted and attended the hearing to praise the proposal.

Labor unity & exceptions

The Alameda County Central Labor Council told City officials that unions had just passed a strong resolution opposing the coal export terminal, because it would provide few jobs, threaten nearby residents and harm efforts to control climate change. Two unions, the Teamsters and Laborers, tried but failed to stop the labor body from adopting the coal terminal resolution.

Both were told by the developer that the good union jobs being promised could not be delivered without the coal terminal. Teamster officials joined developer Phil Tagami in avoiding the public hearing, but lobbied for the coal project behind the scenes.

Broken promises

Developer Phil Tagami was singing a different tune several years ago when he was desperate to secure political support from labor unions, community and environmental groups for his development plan. He promised groups that coal would not be part of his project, then used their support to win approval from the Oakland City Council and $400-500 million in public subsidies. After winning political approval, it was revealed that developers were working closely with anti-union coal companies in Utah who desperately want a private dock to export their fuel abroad, and offered developers $53 million to make it happen.

Exporting coal abroad

Exports are crucial to North America’s coal industry because domestic consumption and prices are falling as the dirty fuel is replaced with cleaner and cheaper natural gas and alternatives such as solar. This reality has forced the coal industry – now almost entirely non-union – to sell their product abroad to countries with minimal environmental and worker safety protections, such as China, Vietnam, and India. These countries have historically resisted global agreements to limit greenhouse gas emissions that cause global climate change. China recently declared a willingness to adopt a market- based “cap-and-trade” system like America’s, which allows companies to “buy” their right to pollute.

Explaining ILWU views

The ILWU approached the coal hearing with a unified voice. Local 10, Local 34 and the Northern California District Council have all taken positions opposing the coal terminal. Local= 10 Business Agent Derrick Muhammad was the first ILWU member to speak at the public hearing on September 15. Muhammad immediately assailed the simplistic job arguments used by coal terminal supporters.

“Prostitution and drug dealing both create lots of jobs in Oakland, but they aren’t the kind of jobs we need,” said Muhammad, who declared that coal terminal jobs should be similarly unwelcome.

Chris Christensen, President of the Bay Area Longshoremen’s Memorial Association, also testified about the downside of coal jobs for the community and longshore workers and urged the City Council to oppose the coal export terminal.

Local 6 Secretary-Treasurer Fred Pecker represented the ILWU’s Northern California District Council, arguing that West Oakland residents have long suffered from heavy pollution in their neighborhood, and deserve better options than a coal terminal.

Expert testimony

A team of experts, including several current and former government officials, testified about the dangers of transporting and burning coal. They included the State of California’s former top environmental health official, a current EPA official and Alameda County’s public health officer.

The health officials joined engineering experts who said the coal terminal involved unnecessary health, environmental and economic risks. One expert noted that a similar expensive coal terminal investment by the Port of Los Angeles had failed to generate the jobs and business that were promised] by the coal industry.

Company threats

In addition to threatening lawsuits at the public hearing, coal interests have been quietly investigating several Oakland City Council members who expressed concern about the coal terminal.

A Denver-based law firm that represents the nation’s largest coal companies and Wall Street firms who finance them, is seeking emails, voice mails, texting and other communication records from Council members.

Media coverage

Media coverage of the September City Council hearing on the coal terminal was extensive, and some outlets have devoted resources to investigating the project in greater detail. Investigative reporter Darwin BondGraham of the East Bay Express has led the way by exposing the coal industry’s financial and lobbying networks that usually operate in the shadows.

“The bottom line,” says Local 10 President Melvin Mackay, “is that this coal terminal is not something members support because it’s bad for the community, bad for the union and bad for the environment.”

Categories: Unions

ILWU and community coalition challenge dangerous crude oil terminal in Vancouver, WA

ILWU - Wed, 10/21/2015 - 14:10

Police were on hand to keep an eye on a group of protesters outside Port of Vancouver’s Terminal 5 on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 17, 2015. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

Members of ILWU Local 4 have joined forces with community and environmental allies to stop a scheme by big oil that could ruin their port, close the Columbia River and turn their city into a disaster area.

Power play

Documents show that officials from the Port of Vancouver reached a deal in secret with oil companies to build the nation’s largest oil-to-marine export terminal without first holding public hearings on the controversial and dangerous proposal.

Four trains a day

Big oil wants to bring four “unit trains” a day to the Port of Vancouver. Each of the mile-long trains would carry 100 or more tank cars filled with highly volatile and explosive crude from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. Each of the cars carry 30,000 gallons of highly flammable crude as the trains travel through dozens of towns before reaching the west coast.

Possible disaster

The possibility of a catastrophic disaster that could wipeout parts of Vancouver and other town became more real on July 6, 2013. That’s when a train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed and exploded in a cataclysmic firestorm that destroyed much of Lac-Megantic, a town in Quebec, Canada. The disaster killed 47 residents and injured many others.

“Bringing this stuff into our town is just irresponsible and too dangerous,” says Local 4’s Cager Clabaugh  who has told Port Commissioners that “the risk isn’t worth the reward.”

He notes that Local 4 members opposed plans for an oil export terminal in their town before the 2013 disaster in Quebec, and have strengthened their resolve since.

“Before that disaster, oil industry lobbyists were assuring our Port Commissioners that this stuff was safe and there was nothing to worry about,” said Clabaugh. “They changed their tune after the Lac-Megantic disaster, but are still saying it’s safe enough and refuse to drop their dangerous plan.”

Many other incidents

A parade of crude-by rail calamities has hit communities in North America. Six months after the Lac- Megantic inferno, another fiery rail crash occurred in Casselton, North Dakota where a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train carrying Bakken crude exploded after a collision.

That North Dakota accident was the fourth major North American derailment of crude-carrying trains during a six-month period in 2013. A total of 24 serious oil train crashes have occurred in the U.S. since 2006, with five crashes so far in 2015, according to the Associated Press.

Fracking fuels oil boom

Record volumes of oil are moving by rail because oil production in North Dakota and Texas have shot to levels not seen in 30 years. The boom is based on “fracking,” a drilling technique that injects high-pressure chemicals underground to loosen oil and gas deposits.

The process allowed the U.S. to become the world’s largest oil producer in 2015–eclipsing Russia, and thus achieving a quiet but critical U.S. foreign policy goal of limiting Russia’s ability to gain influence through energy exports.

Financial pressure

The Port of Vancouver became entangled in the crude oil export scheme after incurring debts on a $275 million infrastructure improvement project, called the West Vancouver Freight Access. It aimed to expand rail capacity and hopefully attract new clients and jobs to the port. In 2012, Port officials thought they had a deal with BHP Billiton – one of the world’s largest mining companies – to export potash fertilizer from a new mine in Canada.

But that deal died and left the Port with no client, excess capacity and mounting debt payments on their new infrastructure project. That’s when officials began promoting the crude oil export terminal as the Port’s potential savior.

Secret deals

Wheels were greased for the oil export terminal in 2013 through a series of secret meetings with officials at the Port of Vancouver. The closed door meetings were recently analyzed in a series of reports published by the Columbian newspaper that examined 1600 pages of documents. The reports raised serious questions about possible violations of state laws and an erosion of the Port’s commitment to an open and democratic decision-making process.

Official amnesia

By early 2013, Port staff picked two powerful petroleum industry players – Tesoro and Savage – to operate the proposed oil terminal. One port commissioner admitted that decision “probably” took place in a closed-door executive session. Other commissioners say they can’t remember or agree on exactly what happened in the private meetings, but records show that oil executives met in private with Port officials in at least one closed-door session.

By April 18, Tesoro was moving forward with the project, and the next day, both companies received an exclusive negotiating agreement from the Port. On April 22, 2013, the companies formally announced plans for the oil export terminal.

Lawsuit filed

In a backwards decision-making process, the Port announced a series of hearings on safety and environmental concerns after – not before – making their secret deal with Tesoro and Savage.

Those hearings in the spring and summer of 2013 seemed like “window dressing” and a “rubber stamp to many citizens who responded by filing a lawsuit in October, 2013. The suit was backed by the Columbia Riverkeeper, Sierra Club and Northwest Environmental Defense Center.

“It may be hard for some to believe, but environmental groups have been our most dependable allies in the fights we’ve had for good jobs in this community,” said Cager Clabaugh.

Secret meetings & finger-pointing

The lawsuit exposed thousands of pages of Port documents that appear to confirm violations of state laws prohibiting public agencies from conducting their business in secret. Documents show the Port held at least nine private meetings involving the oil export terminal.

After those meetings were exposed, the Port admitted holding at least seven secret meetings, but officials continue to insist that no laws were violated.

The lawsuit has led to the deposition under oath of three Port Commissioners about their role in the oil terminal deal. Two of the three commissioners have offered conflicting statements about whether they approved the secret development deal, or if it was approved by the Port’s CEO, Todd Coleman. In the midst of the controversy, Port Commissioner Nancy Baker announced she was stepping down and would not seek re-election.

“Managing” public concern

In one of their secret meetings held in April of 2013, oil and rail executives met privately with port commissioners Baker, Jerry Oliver and Brian Wolfe to strategize how to manage and neutralize concern and criticism from local citizens.

ILWU joins protests

ILWU Local 4 members and leaders have become part of the informal network of Vancouver citizen groups who are opposing the crude-oil export terminal. In addition to labor and environmental organizations, the diverse group of opponents includes local business owners and land developers who worry that the export terminal is a threat to property values and future development options.

Political showdown

An election to fill the open seat on Vancouver’s Port Commission this November is turning into a referendum on the crude oil export terminal.

In the August primary election, a field of seven candidates was whittled down to a showdown between Eric LaBrant who opposes the crude export terminal, and Lisa Ross, who strongly backs the project. The candidates also disagree on the Commission’s history of secret meetings, with LaBrant calling for a more open process and Ross defending deals that were reached in private. And if the crude oil terminal deal falls apart, Ross is open to replacing it with a coal export facility while LeBrant favors exporting hi-value manufactured goods made in the USA. As of September, the Ross campaign had raised $25,000, including money from oil interests, while LaBrant collected $15,000 – including a $1500 donation from the ILWU.

Governor’s decision

The lawsuit and Port Commission election remain a critically important part of the campaign. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee retains final authority to approve or reject the oil plan that will be reviewed by the state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council.

“We intend to keep up the pressure and keep working with our allies in the community to dump this dangerous crude oil terminal plan and get the Port Commission back on the right track,” said Local 4’s President Jared Smith.

Categories: Unions

PSR Fleet memo for October 17 2015

IBU - Tue, 10/20/2015 - 13:17
Categories: Unions

Pensioners Convention meets and takes action in San Francisco

ILWU - Tue, 10/20/2015 - 10:57

Over 200 ILWU pensioners, spouses and guests gathered in San Francisco for the 48th Annual Pacific Coast Pensioners Association (PCPA) convention on September 6-9. This year’s convention looked ahead to the upcoming Presidential election, discussed the need for single payer health care in the United States and learned about long-term care insurance. Delegates heard about the struggle by dock workers in Colombia for fair wages and safe working conditions.

On the convention’s second day, delegates demonstrated at a local Whole Foods store in solidarity with Sakuma Farms workers in Washington State who are fighting for union recognition and a fair contract.

President’s report

In his PCPA President’s report, Rich Austin announced that he would not be running for re-election. Austin recapped his last year of activity – highlighted by 10 months serving as the pensioner representative on the Longshore contract negotiating committee. Austin said that

in 2013, the PCPA passed two resolutions that eventually made it to the negotiating table. The first was to increase benefits for people who retired prior to 2002. The other was to restore the Survivors’ Pension Benefit for survivors of pensioners if their marriage took place after retirement.

“We did pretty good on raising pre-2002 pensioner and surviving spouse benefits, but we need to do more work if we hope to achieve the restoration of benefits provision for post-retirement marriage survivors,” Austin said.

Austin also threw his support behind presidential candidate Bernie Sanders who is running for the Democratic Party nomination. “If for some reason he is not on the ballot next year, I will write him in. I will never again waste my vote on a free market, corporate-controlled neoliberal just because he or she claims to be a Democrat.”

ILWU speakers

Austin conveyed a central tenet of the PCPA; maintaining a productive relationship with the active\ ILWU members, the ILWU leadership, and providing assistance and support when called upon. Many active members of the ILWU know that pensioners are a valuable asset to the organization and provide consistent support through the PCPA.

The convention heard from several ILWU speakers, starting with ILWU International President Bob McEllrath on the convention’s first day. International Vice Presidents Ray Familathe and Wesley Furtado and International Secretary Treasurer Willie Adams also addressed the convention. Local 13 President Bobby Olvera Jr. and Local 94 President Danny Miranda also spoke and Local 63 President Joe Gasperov was in attendance.

Preserving labor history

Connor Casey, Labor Archivist from the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington, spoke about the importance of preserving the history of working people for current and future workers, historians and students. Casey told the delegates about the various resources available to individuals and locals to help them preserve important union records, correspondence and other materials that will be an invaluable resource in preserving the experience and voice of the working class.

Labor historian Ron Magden also spoke at the convention. He talked about his ongoing oral history project with historian Harvey Schwartz to record video interviews with ILWU pensioners. They conducted several oral histories during the convention. ILWU Archivist and Librarian Robin Walker and Schwartz led delegates on a Monday afternoon labor history tour of San Francisco. They visited important historical sites from the 1934 strike along the Embarcadero, toured the Jimmy Herman Cruise terminal and toured the ILWU International offices on Franklin Street.

Time out for activism

On Tuesday morning, PCPA delegated showed that their slogan, “Retired from the job, not the struggle,” is more than just words on a banner. Scores of delegates marched two blocks up to the local Whole Foods market for a solidarity demonstration in support of workers at Sakuma Farms in Washington State who are fighting for union recognition.

Farmworkers are promoting a boycott of Driscoll’s Berries, the label that distributes fruit harvested at Sakuma Farms. Over 40 pensioners along with ILWU International and Local union officers, including ILWU International President Bob McEllrath, International Vice President Ray Familathe and Local 13 President Bobby Olvera, Jr, marched into the produce section of Whole Foods for a spirited rally. The demonstration was well received by shoppers who asked questions about the boycott. Rich Austin spoke with the Whole Foods manager who said she would raise the issue with her regional manager.

Featured speaker

Jhon Jairo Castro, president of the Buenaventura chapter of the Portworkers Union in Colombia was the convention’s featured speaker. Castro has worked as a longshoreman and labor rights organizer for more than 11 years. He discussed his experience as an Afro-Colombian labor leader in one of the deadliest countries in the world for trade union activists.

Sixty percent of Colombia’s imports and exports pass through the port of Buenaventura. Castro told of the negative impact that port privatization and the US-Columbia free trade agreement have had on his nation’s workers, especially the Afro-Colombian community. Castro said Afro-Colombians make up nearly 90 percent of Buenaventura’s population who suffer from high poverty rates, unemployment and a lack basic services such as hospitals.

Honoring Rich Austin

The convention took time out to honor the service of outgoing PCPA President Rich Austin. ILWU International President McEllrath thanked Austin for his leadership and support for active and retired members. McEllrath presented Austin with a bronze hook sculpture crafted by Local 19 pensioner and artist Ron Gustin. After a motion by Local 13 pensioner Tony Salcido, the convention voted unanimously to bestow Austin with the title of PCPA President Emeritus.

Jesse and Lois Stranahan Award

Local 10 pensioner Cleophas Williams received this year’s Jesse and Lois Stranahan Award, an annual honor bestowed to an outstanding labor activist. Williams was the first African American president of Local 10 who served three terms in that position. Williams thanked the PCPA for honoring him and said he intended to remain active in the PCPA.

New leadership

The transition to a new PCPA leadership team was reached smoothly on the final day of the convention. The new PCPA President will be Greg Mitre who has been heading the Southern California Pensioner’s Group. PCPA’s new Vice President will be Lawrence Thibeaux from the Bay Area Pensioners. John Munson from Bellingham will continue to serve as Recording Secretary and Christine Gordon from Southern California will serve as the new Treasurer.

The Executive Board will include Herman Moreno, Cleophas Williams, Jerry Bitz, Mike Mullen, Jim Davison, Maynard Brent, Michelle Drayton, Rich Austin and Tom Deusfrene with other Canadian delegates yet to be elected representing Canadian pensioners.

Adjournment until 2016 in Tacoma

Newly elected President Greg Mitre took the gavel and praised Rich Austin’s dedication, saying it would be hard to fill those shoes. He noted that next year’s convention will be held in Tacoma,WA from September 12th, – 14th and said he was looking forward to seeing everyone there in 2016.

Categories: Unions

Regional Director's Report October 2015

IBU - Fri, 10/16/2015 - 18:03
Categories: Unions

PSR Fleet Memo for October 10 2015

IBU - Tue, 10/13/2015 - 14:03
Categories: Unions


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