Workers, community and clients to rally in support of outspoken union supporter fired by Bay Area’s largest animal hospital

ILWU - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 12:03

 SAN FRANCISCO – Concerned pet owners, community groups and employees will rally in support of Katy Bradley, an outspoken union supporter and advocate for better patient care who was recently fired by SFVS-VCA, the region’s largest specialty animal hospital. Bradly was terminated hours after the company was notified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that a number of complaints were going to be filed against them for violating federal labor law. She has worked for SFVS-VCA for nearly eight years.

The rally will take place on Thursday, July 30th at 3:45 pm in front of San Francisco Veterinary Specialists (SFVS), 600 Alabama Street at the corner of 18th Street, in San Francisco’s Mission District. The rally will be preceded by a car caravan that will start at the Safeway Parking Lot on 16th & Bryant at 3:15 pm and depart for SFVS-VCA at 3:30 pm.

Proper COVID safety measures including wearing masks and social distancing will be practiced by all workers and attendees.

Reporters who attend the event will have an opportunity to interview Bradley.

SFVS is a private, for-profit facility owned by VCA and the Mars Corporation. The facility offers specialty care at a premium price for seriously sick pets. Bills for the specialty services can reach $10,000, $20,000 or more. The San Francisco hospital is part of America’s lucrative and fast-growing animal care business that generated an estimated $86 billion last year.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who represents the Mission District, has raised concerns about the firing of the outspoken union leader at SFVS-VCA. “Since the beginning of this pandemic, Katy and other front-line pet care workers have been putting their own health at risk to come into work every day to provide essential healthcare for our pets. We are saying to SFVS-VCA: Obey federal labor law, respect the rights of workers to collectively bargain, and reach a fair contract with these workers,” Ronen recently said.

SFVS was quietly purchased in 2017 along with hundreds of other animal hospitals and clinics for $9.1 billion by the Mars Corporation, the privately-held company that’s famous for their M&M candies. Mars now controls a large share of America’s animal care industry, along with ownership of IAM’s and Pedigree brand pet foods, and other animal-linked assets. Mars has come under fire in recent months by civil rights activists for the packaging of their Uncle Ben’s brand rice products and by human rights activists using slave labor in the production of their cocoa products.

In 2018, employees voted by a 3-to-1 margin to form a union and affiliate with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). Since that time, workers have been trying to negotiating their first contract. The company has hired anti-union consultants and lawyers to avoid reaching an agreement. The company also refused to meet more than one day per month until the company finally agreed to meet twice per month to settle a complaint in the fall of 2019 with the NLRB for bargaining in bad faith in violation of federal law.

Download a PDF of the release here. 

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Categories: Unions

ILWU Mourns the Passing of Civil Rights Icon and Congressman John Lewis

ILWU - Mon, 07/20/2020 - 15:56

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union joins millions of people across the country in mourning the death of Civil Rights icon and United States Congressman John Lewis. Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, and all of those whose lives were touched by Congressman Lewis’ life and work.

John Lewis was an unfailing supporter of the rights and dignity of working-class Americans and a fearless champion for liberty and civil rights throughout his entire life. He was one of the original Freedom Riders in the summer of 1960. As a young leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Lewis helped to organize and also spoke at the historic 1963 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered the “I Have A Dream” speech.

Lewis courageously put his body on the line in pursuit of racial justice and equality. He and Reverend Hosea Williams from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference led a nonviolent march in 1965 across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, headed toward Montgomery. The pair led over 500 peaceful marchers into a line of violent racist police who attacked the group with clubs, bullwhips, and tear gas while Lewis urged everyone to kneel and pray. Lewis was so severely beaten in the “Bloody Sunday” incident that he had to be hospitalized with skull fractures.

John Lewis had longstanding connections with the ILWU that were forged over many decades because of a shared dedication to racial and economic justice, lifelong support for unions and workers, and the fact that his youngest sister, Rosa Tyner, was a member of ILWU Locals 10 and 91 for 23 years.

As a member of Congress, Representative Lewis was a champion of working people and a strong supporter of collective bargaining rights. He advocated for a living wage, calling for raising the minimum wage and supporting the Davis-Bacon and prevailing wage laws. He called for and strengthened workplace safety standards. Rep. Lewis was in all ways a true friend to longshore, maritime, and warehouse workers.

In 2010, President Barack Obama awarded Lewis with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. During the ceremony, Obama said: “There’s a quote inscribed over a doorway in Nashville, where students first refused to leave lunch counters 51 years ago this February. And the quote said, ‘If not us, then who? If not now, then when?’ It’s a question John Lewis has been asking his entire life. It’s why, time and again, he faced down death so that all of us could share equally in the joys of life.”

“John Lewis was a true hero and warrior for the working class,” said ILWU International President Willie Adams. “He was fearless, committed, and unwavering in his dedication to racial and economic justice. In the streets of Selma and in the halls of Congress, John Lewis fought for us all. The torch has truly been passed to a new generation of activists who today are continuing the fight for civil rights. May the memory of his life-long dedication and commitment to social justice and the struggle for freedom be a light that guides us through these challenging times.”


Download a PDF of the ILWU statement on the passing of John Lewis

Categories: Unions

Young rebels connect for a good cause in Tacoma

ILWU - Tue, 07/14/2020 - 10:57

Local 23’s Young Workers Committee led a delegation of members and casuals who joined a Juneteenth march in Tacoma called, “Stop Killing Us!” The event was organized by Lincoln High School students who belong to the Black Student Union.

Marchers gathered at Tacoma’s Wapato Park for the photo below that shows three of the student-organizers up-front wearing black shirts with a goldcolored slogan that read, “NO JUSTICE! NO PEACE! 2020.”

Local 23 Young Workers Committee members learned about the action on an Instagram account because many high school students no longer use Facebook, which they consider to be something “for old people.”

Local 23 activists have gotten recent props and praise from the community, thanks to the June 9th action in memory of George Floyd and the Juneteenth stand-down on the 19th. Out-of-town reporters contacted Local 23 activists for interviews, including the Majority publication from the Democratic Socialists of America’s (DSA) East Bay chapter and author/professor Peter Cole, who wrote an article about the ILWU’s anti-racism work that appeared in In These Times.

While Local 23’s Young Workers Committee didn’t initiate the march, they did bring it to the attention of local leadership and promoted it to the membership. Some Local 23 members went up to Seattle for Local 19’s Juneteenth action, and others were busy attending Local 23’s “stop-work” union meeting.

“Brian Skiffington and I missed the first speakers at the rally because we were at the stop work meeting, but we were able to join the march after it started,” said Local 23’s Zack Pattin. “We caught-up with Paul Malleck and Colin McGee from Local 5 who are both Aramark workers at Evergreen State College. They were happy to see all the A, B, and casual members from Local 23, and we even met one new casual who came on his own and introduced himself when he saw us at the end of the march.”

Another young worker, Local 23 ID Casual Nyef Mohamed, said the Juneteenth march meant a lot to him. “Marching the streets for Juneteenth in the city where I grew up was a powerful moment, and seeing that the action was organized by local high school students was inspiring,” he said, adding that, “Juneteenth needs to be a national holiday.”

Categories: Unions

ILWU turns out big for Juneteenth Seattle march against police brutality and racism

ILWU - Tue, 07/14/2020 - 10:10

Hundreds of ILWU members marched with their families, friends and community members in Seattle to commemorate Juneteenth. Work stopped at the Port of Seattle for eight hours as part of a coastwise shutdown to mark Emancipation Day, and as an act of solidarity with people protesting racism and police violence across the United States.

The “Rally and March to Stop Police Brutality and Systemic Racism” began at 10 am at Local 19’s hall. ILWU motorcycles led the marchers along the waterfront to Terminal 46 before heading to the State Department of Corrections Day Reporting Center. ILWU speakers included Local 19 President Rich Austin, Jr. and Gabriel Prawl, Sr, a Local 52 member and president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute in Seattle which co-sponsored the event. Prawl, former Local 52 President, was the first African-American elected to that office.

Austin started his remarks by quoting the ILWU’s Third Guiding Principle: “Workers are indivisible. There can be no discrimination because of race, color, creed, national origin, religious or political belief, sex, gender preference, or sexual orientation. Any division among the workers can help no one but the employers. Discrimination of worker against worker is suicide. Discrimination is a weapon of the boss. Its entire history is proof that it has served no other purpose than to pit worker against worker to their own destruction.”

Austin added, “We are the union who refused to handle cargo from apartheid South Africa. We are the union who made Dr. Martin Luther King an honorary member and we are the union who has shut down the West Coast! Why? Because there are injustices that must be addressed.”

Prawl spoke about the difference between having a moment and building a movement. “Today we don’t want this to be a moment, we want this to be a movement. The difference between a moment and a movement is sacrifice,” Prawl said. “The ILWU knows how to take action. We call on all labor to join us because we can make it stop.”

Categories: Unions

Secretary-Treasurer’s Report

ILWU - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 14:02
“I can’t breathe.”

ILWU International Secretary-Treasurer Ed Ferris

These three words seemingly can’t get out of my head. Quite honestly, they have haunted me ever since I witnessed the recent public police execution of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.

That is the day that former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin murdered Mr. George Floyd by applying an illegal and unjustifiable chokehold.

That is the day that he knelt with his full body weight on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

That is the day that three other former Minneapolis policemen openly ignored Derek Chauvin’s criminal behavior.

They all quietly watched a man be choked to death by their co-worker and shamefully, did not intervene at all. That is the day that George Floyd’s humanity was ignored by the very people who were paid to protect and serve the public. Fortunately for all of us, that is also the day that a courageous teenager, Ms. Darnella Frazier, filmed Derek Chauvin’s cruel murder of George Floyd. If she had not, one could argue that the current wave of increased social activism and public demand for police reform in this country would not exist.

I never met George Floyd, but after watching the video of his death by law enforcement, I shamefully realized that I personally haven’t done enough to advocate for the significant changes and reforms required to end systemic racism. You see, it isn’t enough to just be kind, courteous, and decent to all people.

It isn’t enough to not possess hate in your heart. It isn’t enough to treasure diversity or inclusion or have friends of all different types of ethnicities. We all must do more. In my opinion, we must collectively recognize the vast societal inequities that exist in the U.S. and eliminate them if we ever are going to experience true equality, justice, and peace for all of our people.

The Problem of Systemic Racism in the United States

In a June 23, 2020 ASU NOW interview, Arizona State University Associate Professor Eleanor Seaton clearly explains that “Racism is a system of power and privilege based on perceived race and/or ethnicity that defines one group as dominant to and more deserving than all other groups. In this system, there is a dominant group (e.g. whites) and there are subordinate groups including Native Americans, Black Americans, Lantinx, and Asian Americans. Racism is rooted in historical oppression (e.g. genocide of Native Americans, enslavement of Africans) such that subordinate groups were and are defined as “inferior” to the “superior” dominant white group. The dominant group created and currently maintains societal privilege through values, behaviors, and institutions. This privilege results in subordinate groups lacking access to power, status, and resources.”

“One of the most common misconceptions about racism is that it is based solely on individual acts. Many people believe that a few individual “bad apples” are racist or engage in racist behaviors. In fact, racism is baked into our society and in the institutions that make up our society, including schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, banks, health care, the media, and policing systems.”

“What is systemic racism or institutional racism?”

“Institutional racism is when societal institutions engage in practices that favor the dominant group and practices that are biased against subordinate groups. It is important to acknowledge that institutional racism in one domain reinforces institutional racism in other domains, providing an interconnected system that constantly reinforces each other while reproducing racial disparities across the lifespan.

I would argue that institutional racism is more dangerous than individual racism because institutional racism creates environments that dictate every aspect of life for subordinate individuals. Racism dictates where one lives and attends school, what type of jobs one is able to work, whether one has health care, whether one has access to healthy and nutritious food and where one is treated fairly by the criminal justice system to name a few examples. The cycle repeats itself throughout the lives of individuals and across generations.”

Professor Seaton’s explanation of systemic racism has really helped me in my personal understanding of racism in general, and I truly hope that her words educate you as well. George Floyd’s Memorial Service On June 8, 2020, I had the honor of representing the ILWU at George Floyd’s memorial service in Houston, Texas along with Melvin Mackay (Local 10) and Tyrone Harvey (Local 19).

I was thrilled by this opportunity but was admittedly concerned about traveling in the midst of a global pandemic. I worried about potentially compromising my family’s health and safety. But after much family discussion, it was decided that I would self-quarantine after attending the service and that alleviated the majority of my concerns.

Attending the memorial service was definitely the right decision and I would like to personally thank ILWU President Willie Adams and ILWU Vice President Bobby Olvera, Jr. for their ongoing support and encouragement. Special thanks also go out to our ILA comrades for their wonderful hospitality and solidarity that they provided our delegation throughout the day. The memorial service took place at a beautiful church named The Fountain of Praise Church in Southwest Houston. Despite the sweltering heat, the attendance at George Floyd’s memorial service was remarkable with estimates of approximately 6,000 people.

We were all fortunate to experience the palpable feeling of community, solidarity, and hope in that large crowd. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Civil rights activist and scholar W. E. B. Du Bois once said “Either America will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.” It is long overdue that we collectively heed Du Bois’ wise and cautionary words. If we do not, we will never be truly “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.”

In solidarity,
Ed Ferris

Categories: Unions

International Executive Board meets via video conference amidst Coronavirus pandemic

ILWU - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 12:43

Physically distant, socially conscious: International Vice President
Bobby Olvera. Jr. addresses the International Executive Board which was held via
Zoom on June 18th. The Board unanimously passed a Statement of Policy on Racism
that condemns racism, police brutality and the targeting of African-Americans.

With the Covid-19 pandemic raging in the United States, the ILWU International Executive Board met June 18th via video conferencing. Instead of presenting their reports on the video call, Executive Board, members submitted their reports two weeks beforehand. Board members read the reports ahead of the meeting and came prepared with questions.

“We’ve had to make some adjustments to ensure the health and safety of the Executive Board but the International officers, IEB and staff continue to do the work of the union during this crisis,” said ILWU International President Willie Adams.

Statement of Policy on racism

In the wake of the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, the Executive Board unanimously passed a Statement of Policy on Racism. The statement affirmed that the International Executive Board is “emphatically and unequivocally against racism, including police terror, brutality, and the unfair targeting of African Americans.” The policy encourages ILWU members to reach out to local, state and national organizations that are fighting racism in their communities. The full text of the Statement of Policy is below:


The horrific image of George Floyd being murdered by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds graphically symbolizes the oppression African Americans have experienced in North America since they first arrived on slave ships.

The United States’ ideal of equality for all stands in sharp contrast with the shameful manner in which the nation has treated its African American citizens, Latinos, Native Americans, and other minorities. This racism is deeply ingrained in every fabric of our society—unequal educational opportunities, police intimidation, employment discrimination, disproportionate incarceration rates, housing, racial profiling, a cash bail system that discriminates against people of color, access to financial capital, and a criminal justice system that routinely dehumanizes people of color.

The widespread availability of technology to record incidents of overt racism, such as police harassment and violence, and share them over social media has laid bare how the persistent disease of racism has plagued the black community in particular—when it comes to unequal treatment of black Americans by police. Brother Floyd’s tragic murder, along with those of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery among others, have created the opportunity to have the very hard discussions about racism at the national, state, local, and individual levels.

Unfortunately, we cannot expect any leadership out of the White House as Trump barricades himself in and threatens to use the military to quell peaceful demonstrations. These discussions must go on without the White House involvement. This is an opportunity that must not be wasted as we, as a society, cannot permit yet another racist murder. The ILWU has a proud and storied history of standing up for civil rights and opposing racism.

Today, the International Executive Board of the ILWU reaffirms that legacy as we stand up emphatically and unequivocally against racism, including police terror, brutality, and the unfair targeting of African Americans. Our motto “an injury to one is an injury to all,” speaks of our principles of solidarity and support to workers and community members in need. Under that banner, we stand with our communities in support of an end to police brutality and harassment because we understand that “black lives matter.”

Additionally, we strongly encourage all ILWU members to reach out to local, state, and national community groups addressing racism in all its ugly forms. We will be putting together a website listing several such organizations. Finally, our condolences go out to the family and friends of Brother Floyd and other brothers and sisters who have been subject to violent racist attacks.

Categories: Unions

ILWU stands down at West Coast ports for historic Juneteenth action to honor Black lives

ILWU - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 12:18

March towards justice: The Local 10 Drill Team kept the pace for the three-mile march from the Port of Oakland to City Hall. Photo by Brooke Anderon.

This is a movement!” said ILWU International President Willie Adams, who was invited to speak from the back of a flatbed truck by Local 10 and 34 leaders as thousands of marchers assembled to commemorate Juneteenth on a sunny morning outside the Port of Oakland’s SSA Terminal. “Young people are taking to the streets all over the world. They are militant; they are smart, and they are marching without apology,” said Adams, who was accompanied by International Secretary-Treasurer Ed Ferris and International Executive Board member Melvin Mackay.

Ongoing struggle against racism

The June 19th event was part of a historic coastwise stand-down that reached from the Port of San Diego up to Vancouver, Canada. The goal was to raise awareness about America’s legacy of racism that began with slavery in 1619, is woven into the nation’s founding documents, caused a Civil War that killed 850,000 Americans which was followed by a century of universal discrimination and sometimes brutal repression – the remainders of which are stubbornly persistent today – 400 years after the first African slaves were brought to North America.

Killing that sparked a movement

The stand-down was an act of solidarity with millions of people across America and around the world who joined protests against racist police violence, sparked by the brutal killing of unarmed man George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Floyd’s brutal murder was caught on a cell phone video and triggered continuous protests and demands for sweeping reform of the criminal justice system.

Born in the Bay Area

The Bay Area march and rally was organized by ILWU Locals 10 and 34, where Presidents Trent Willis and Keith Shanklin encouraged locals up and down the coast to participate in a united stand-down on June 19. Their effort won backing from all longshore locals, the International Union, the Inlandboatmen’s Union, and ILWU Canada – along with dozens of community groups.

Fired up, ready to go: Local 10 President Trent Willis fires up the crowd outside the SSA terminal on the morning of Juneteenth.

‘Say their names’

The morning rally kicked-off a three-mile march from the port to Oscar Grant Plaza at Oakland City Hall. Before noon, a sea of protesters left the SSA terminal and streamed down Middle Harbor Boulevard, marching behind the Local 10 banner and the Local 10 Drill Team. The atmosphere was festive but defiant. Marchers chanted, sang songs, beat drums, and joined call-and-responses that named those recently killed at the hands of police. Chant leaders called out “Say their names!”, as marchers responded by shouting the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Peddie Perez, Miles Hall, Oscar Grant, and others who have died at the hands of police or to white vigilantes. An estimated 20,000 strong By the time marchers reached downtown Oakland, organizers estimated that the group numbered 20,000 strong. They stopped outside the Oakland Police Department headquarters for a brief rally. Speakers called attention to the OPD’s massive $330 million annual budget and the Department’s long history of abuse, racial discrimination, and violation of court orders- -behaviors that cost residents millions in lawsuit settlements.

Remembering George Floyd’s death

The massive Juneteenth action followed a 9-minute work stoppage by ILWU dockworkers on June 9th that began at 9 a.m. in all West Coast ports. The symbolic stand-down action recalled the agonizing eight minutes and 46 seconds that George Floyd suffered while being slowly choked to death by Minneapolis police officers.

Origin of Juneteenth

The action also honored June 19, or Juneteenth, which has been celebrated by African-Americans as a holiday since the late 1800s. Also known as Emancipation Day, Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in America and the on-going struggle for Black freedom.

Civil War history

On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived at Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved African-Americans of their freedom and the end of the Civil War. The soldiers came to Galveston two-and-a-half years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation abolishing slavery throughout the Confederacy – and two months after the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, Virginia. Slavery was officially abolished in the United States on December 6, 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified.

Growing recognition

Early Juneteenth commemorations included an annual pilgrimage to Galveston by formerly enslaved people and their descendants. It wasn’t until 1980 that Texas became the first state to recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday. It is now recognized in 47 states and the District of Columbia, although most employers fail to recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday. Coastwise shutdown The call to shut down the ports originated at Local 10 where President Trent Willis sent a letter to ILWU locals at all 29 ports along the West Coast about the Juneteenth standdown which received overwhelming support.

On June 15, the ILWU issued a nationwide press release announcing that ports along the West Coast would stop work for eight hours in observance of Juneteenth. “Juneteenth has long been recognized by the African-American community, but for many others, it was unknown until now – as our nation, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder refocuses on ways to address ongoing, systemic racial injustice,” said President Adams in a press statement. He went on to explain, “Thousands of dockworkers will stop work for the first shift on June 19, 2020, to show their commitment to the cause of racial equality and social justice.” Local 13 leaders also issued a statement announcing the shutdown: “Since the founding of our great Union, the ILWU has fought against racism and injustice. We have de-segregated our membership, we condemned the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, we appointed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with an honorary membership, we opposed wars in the East and Middle East, we supported Occupy Wall Street, we fought for immigrant rights, and we opposed police brutality. How did we show our solidarity for those causes? The best way a longshore worker knows—we stop working. When workers stop working it is the loudest voice we have. It is a voice unlike any other in the US.” ILWU Longshore workers in Vancouver, Canada also joined in solidarity by stopping work for eight hours.

“Racism and division are weapons used by those in power to keep the working class down. A divided class is a class that can never rise and brings true prosperity to us all,” said ILWU Canada President Rob Ashton. “That is why the ILWU Canada Longshore division will be taking part in this coast-wide shut down on Juneteenth. Canada’s hands are not clean either, in the past or the present. We also had slavery; there was the internment of Japanese Canadians, the incident of the Komagata Maru and the residential schools. In the present day, we have the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) and we see systemic racism in Canadian society.” ILWU Canada Grainworkers Union Local 333 honored Juneteenth by stopping work for 9 minutes on June 19 in solidarity with West Coast port shutdown.

International Solidarity: ILWU International President Willie Adams
brought word of solidarity actions by workers in Italy and South Africa.

International solidarity

During his morning speech, President Adams announced that dockworkers in Genoa, Italy and South Africa were stopping work in solidarity with the protests. General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi of the South African Federation of Trade Unions issued a statement saying, “Comrades in the ILWU, we applaud your action taken in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter uprising. Closing down 29 ports on the US West Coast, the United States gateway to the world during this deep economic crisis, is an extraordinary act. We celebrate Juneteenth with you, the ending of slavery in the US. We also have suffered such depths of racism and have watched the video of George Floyd’s murder in agony.” Jerry Dias, National President of Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector labor union, also sent a letter of solidarity. “On behalf of Unifor Canada members, we salute your membership for their actions today, Juneteenth, in support of Black Lives Matter. ILWU has a proud history of standing up and speaking out for social justice and today you are once again showing the best of the labour movement,” wrote Dias.

High profile speakers

Trent Willis and Keith Shanklin served as emcees during the event. The issue of police violence has effected Shanklin and Willis directly; both had family members killed by police. Shanklin got the crowd fired up at the start. “We are going to make some noise. We want them to hear us coming. We are here to make a change. You matter. Black Lives Matter,” said Shanklin before introducing Bishop Bob Jackson from Oakland’s Acts Full Gospel Church.

The port rally featured high profile speakers including film star Danny Glover along with scholar and civil rights activist Angela Davis. Both Glover and Davis addressed the crowd remotely in order to maintain social distance. Glover called into the rally to deliver his message while Davis stood through her car’s sunroof, fist raised in the air, while her pre-recorded address was played.

Davis thanked the ILWU for shutting down the West Coast ports, noting the ILWU’s long tradition of using their collective power to stand up against racism in the US and across the globe. “Whenever the ILWU takes a stand, the world feels the reverberations,” Davis began. “Thank you for shutting down the ports today, on Juneteenth – the day when we renew our commitment to the struggle for freedom,” Davis said. “You represent the potential and power of the labor movement.” Davis added that if she had not chosen to become a professor, her next choice would have been to become a dockworker or warehouse worker “in order to be a member of the most radical union in the country, the ILWU,” she said.

Family members detail killings

The crowd also heard from family members who lost loved ones to police violence. Their powerful stories illustrated how widespread and systemic police violence is in Black and brown communities across America. Speakers included Michael Brown Sr., whose 18-year old son, Michael, was killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. Also speaking was Richard Perez, who donated and drove the flatbed truck used at the Juneteenth event. He spoke about the 2014 shooting of his son “Peddie” Perez by police in Richmond, CA – and how that killing has devastated his family. “My wife cries every day,” he said.

Another speaker was Taun Hall, mother of Miles Hall, a 23-year-old Black man who was killed in 2019 by police in Walnut Creek, CA. She said their family called 911 for mental-health assistance because Miles was experiencing a schizophrenic episode – but their son ended up being killed by police.

Trent Willis spoke about the death of his own brother who was killed by Military Police who were called because of a verbal altercation in a bar. “The time when Black people are arrested, charged, tried, convicted and executed on the spot must end,” Willis said. “My brother was executed for talking back to a white person.”

International officers

At the morning rally, President Adams and International SecretaryTreasurer Ed Ferris spoke on behalf of the International. “We’re not working today. We’re standing in solidarity,” Adams said. He called on police officers to stop their fellow officers when they see them engaging in misconduct. “Good cops have got to start checking those bad cops. You can’t stand by and let something happen. You’re just as guilty,” Adams said. Ferris spoke passionately about the impact that George Floyd’s murder has had on him. “That video changed my life,” Ferris explained as he referenced the ILWU slogan, “An injury to one is an injury to all.” “Until the US addresses its deeprooted racial inequalities,” Ferris said, Americans will not be truly free. Until the color of your skin is as important as your hair color or your eye color, we are not all going to be free. I’m so grateful to see this diverse group of people because we are fed up.”

In this together: International Secretary-Treasurer Ed Ferris rallies the crowd. He spoke about how racial justice is directly tied to economic justice for all workers.

Saving the Port of Oakland

Local 10 pensioner and long-time activist Clarence Thomas has been a leader against racial injustice for decades and remains active in today’s struggles. He spoke about the attempt by developers to build a baseball stadium, hotels and retail at the Port of Oakland. “We have to stop that,” Thomas said. “The Oakland A’s have to stay in East Oakland, not at the port.”

Thomas then introduced Andy Garcia, Executive Vice President of the trucking company GSC Logistics. “The rich and powerful and the politicians want to sell this port to the highest bidder,” said Garcia. “They want to take away our jobs. They want to take away our future. They want to take away our family’s future.”

Local attorney and former Oakland mayoral candidate Pamela Price also spoke out against the stadium project. “In East Oakland we are fighting against the abandonment of the Oakland Coliseum and the purchasing of Howard Terminal because we know the Howard Terminal stadium project means prioritizing profits over people,” she said. “The Howard Terminal project would destabilize the Black community in both East and West Oakland, and speed up our displacement from Oakland.” Oakland’s Black population has declined by half in recent decades, due to pressure from gentrification and the erosion of good union jobs in the industrial and warehouse sectors.

Rally at City

Hall Boots Riley, film director and frontman for the hip hop band, The Coup, was a featured speaker at the afternoon rally. Riley spoke about the power of workers to effect change by withholding their labor and the need for people to organize at work. “We’ve had, these past two weeks, millions of people in the street all over the country in every single city in the United States. And right now we’re at a point where people are like, ‘What’s the next step?’ And a lot of that question is a question of power.” Riley continued, “What is power? How does it work? What is our power? And that’s what today is answering. Our power comes from the fact that we create the wealth. Wealth is power. We have the ability to withhold that power. Wherever you work, wherever you are during the day, that’s where you need to be organizing.”

Other speakers at the City Hall included young leaders from the Bay Area and across the country, including Chris Smalls, who was fired by Amazon after he helped organize a work stoppage at the company’s warehouse on Staten Island, New York, to protest the lack of protective gear and hazard pay for workers. One of the youngest speakers was recent high school graduate and Bay Area activist Lauryn Campbell of Black Youth for the People’s Liberation. The group organized a march on June 8 in East Oakland to protest the killing of Oakland resident Erik Salgado by California Highway Patrol officers. “Today we are here to say we’re done,” Campbell told the crowd. “We’re done hiding our Blackness. We’re done looking over our shoulders.

Labor takes a stand

The ILWU’s role in the Juneteenth actions was amplified by local, national and international media coverage that was overwhelmingly positive. President Adams said the movement against police violence and racial injustice reflects the ILWU’s history and values. “Our own union was forged out of violent police attacks during the 1934 strike. Two workers in San Francisco, Nicholas Bordoise and Howard Sperry, were murdered by the police. From the beginning, Harry Bridges was committed to fighting racism in the labor movement because he understood that division undermines the power of the working class,” Adams said. “The ILWU has never been silent on the moral issues of the day. This historic moment required a historic response and the rank-and-file of our great union rose to the occasion.”

Categories: Unions

 Senators criticize foreign grain companies for attacking American workers

ILWU - Wed, 06/24/2020 - 17:26

WASHINGTON, DC – Two U.S. Senators directed harsh words today at foreign-owned grain company officials during the Agriculture Committee’s markup of the Grain Standards Reauthorization Act.

Ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said, “I have heard troubling reports that certain foreign-owned grain companies may be failing to make good-faith efforts to reach an agreement with their workers. It’s concerning to hear they are threatening workers’ pensions and access to health care. These protracted and contentious negotiations ultimately harm the workers, the American farmers who want certainty, and the American company that has already put in the work to come to an agreement. I would urge all parties to engage in the process in good faith. If left unresolved, these negotiations will undermine certainty for everyone involved in the grain trade, which is the purpose of our meeting today,” said Senator Stabenow.

Her statement was followed by critical comments from Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, who said, “I am deeply concerned by what is happening to the workers at some of our nation’s largest grain export terminals in the Pacific Northwest. It is my understanding that six terminals, owned either by Louis Dreyfus, a Dutch firm, and two Japanese conglomerates, have refused to negotiate in good faith with the men and women who have worked at these ports for 70 years. These companies, with annual revenue in the tens of billions, are asking skilled workers to give up their pensions and their healthcare. Meanwhile, the U.S. owned terminals reached an agreement with the union more than two years ago. As this Committee knows, the value of the Grain Standards Act is that our trading partners can count on the quality and integrity of U.S. grains. If we allow this Act to be undermined, whether by future privatization of inspectors or by the undermining of the skilled workforce at these terminals, we will ultimately hurt the very farmers that count on us. These workers have been on the job without a contract for the past two years. It’s past time for these terminal operators to come back to the negotiating table and hash out a fair and amicable agreement with workers. It is my hope that my colleagues will join me in prioritizing these workers over the profits of these foreign owned corporations,” said Senator Brown.

Thousands of West Coast dock workers are covered by contracts with Marubeni, Mitsui and LouisDreyfus that expired over two years ago on May 31st, 2018. All three companies began the bargaining process by demanding workers forfeit long-standing benefits and work rules. Company officials have refused to compromise on their take-away demands for more than two years, while remaining profitable. The concessionary demands from grain conglomerates include:

  • Removing ILWU members from a healthy “green zone” pension plan with over 100% funding. The trio of foreign grain companies are trying to force workers into an inferior retirement plan.
  • Cutting health benefits and shifting cost onto workers and family members.


“Our families cannot and will not give up living standards that American workers have fought so hard to win,” said Jared Smith, a grain worker at the United Grain terminal owned by Mitsui in Vancouver, WA. “Our families deserve a secure future from these foreign-owned companies that are healthy, profitable and control much of the world’s grain supply,” he said. “They’re supposed to negotiate, not dictate.”

The company’s “take-it-or-leave-it” approach has effectively ended meaningful negotiations since the spring of 2019. Japanese-based Marubeni tried and failed to use heavy-handed legal tactics last year against over one hundred grain workers by filing a specious lawsuit the week of Christmas in 2018 and serving legal papers at employees’ homes that demanded up to $250,000 in damages from each family. The court subsequently dismissed this harassment lawsuit, but Marubeni has appealed in an apparent attempt to make the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) waste money on legal fees. Such suits have long been considered illegal “unfair labor practices” by the National Labor Relations Board. Workers remain committed to reaching a fair agreement with the companies, noting that they were able to reach a settlement in May 2018 with the only remaining U.S.-owned grain export terminal operator, Cargill-CHS (TEMCO). The TEMCO agreement protects working families, assures no disruptions in grain exports, and maintains a highly skilled workforce in export terminals that benefit farmers, workers and the U.S. economy.

“We won’t allow big foreign corporations to bully workers into giving-away long-established pension and healthcare benefits that help 3,000 American workers in Oregon and Washington,” said ILWU President William Adams. “We’re committed to working with America’s farmers to ensure that grain exports get the government inspections needed by overseas customers, but can’t allow foreign corporations to attack the health, welfare and pensions of American workers – then receive a government seal of approval for their exports,” said Adams. “It’s time for these ‘big three’ conglomerates to bargain in good faith for the benefit of American workers and farmers.”

Categories: Unions

Watch: Angela Davis speaks at the Juneteenth port shutdown

ILWU - Tue, 06/23/2020 - 08:24

Drone footage courtesy of EKF Production

Categories: Unions

KQED: ‘We Don’t Want to Just Ask For Things to Get Better’: Thousands March in Oakland for Juneteenth’

ILWU - Sat, 06/20/2020 - 09:49
By Carly Severn,  Matthew Green, Beth LaBerge. Vanessa Rancaño

Thousands of people filled the streets of Oakland on Friday, June 19 to honor Juneteenth and stand in solidarity with a huge shutdown of the Port of Oakland.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) enacted the planned work stoppage at the Port of Oakland — along with the shutdown of all ports along the West Coast — to honor Juneteenth: the date when slaves in Texas learned that they were free in 1865, more than two years after slavery officially ended in the United States.

Protesters gathered at the port this morning to hear from Angela Davis and the relatives of Black people killed by police. Marchers then moved downtown — followed by a mile-long car caravan — to Oakland City Hall, where speakers including Boots Riley spoke with urgency of the need for momentum in the global fight against racism.

Filmmaker, musician and activist Boots Riley addresses the crowds outside Oakland City Hall on Juneteenth. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

To those asking what the “next step” in the fight for justice was, Riley emphasized the power of labor organizing in that “question of power.” That, he said, was what the Juneteenth port shutdown was “answering”: “Because our power comes from the fact that we create the wealth. Wealth is power, we have the ability to withhold that power. We have the ability to withhold on labor, and shut shit down.”

“We don’t want to just ask for things to get better. We wanna say ‘it’s going to get better or else,’ ” he said.

Companies, Riley said, were “scared” of the threat of work stoppages. “What we need to do is: Wherever you work, wherever you are during the day, that’s where you need to be organizing — because we need to be able to shut this down. We need to show them we ain’t asking, we’re telling. And that we’ll stop the world and make them motherfuckers jump off.”

Friday’s protest was peaceful, and an overwhelming majority of attendees wore face coverings to limit the transmission of COVID-19, in accordance with a statewide order by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The police presence at the event was also minimal. An Oakland Police Department spokesperson said that the ILWU provided their own security and monitored traffic and safety, and that OPD was “there only … if any type of medical emergency or if someone drove into the crowd.” No incidents were reported.

“Thank you for shutting down the ports today, on Juneteenth … the day when we renew our commitment to the struggle for freedom,” said civil rights icon, author and academic Angela Davis, one of the speakers that addressed the crowds at the port in the morning.

Angela Davis addresses the assembled crowd at the June 19 Juneteenth rally at the Port of Oakland, which was shut down to mark the day. (Beth LaBerge/KQED) ‘This Reaches Back to Me in Heritage’

This Juneteenth work stoppage represents the latest in a long line of protests enacted by ILWU, from anti-apartheid shutdowns to action taken against the Iraq war in 2008.

“With the ILWU’s history of advocating for the end of police terror and violence we decided to put a call out,” said Trent Willis, president of the ILWU Local 10 in San Francisco, said when the stoppage was announced.

Several of the port workers attended the Juneteenth rally in person to demonstrate solidarity with the shutdown. As thousands marched downtown, accompanied by music and chants, union members wearing orange vests helped to redirect traffic and handed out water to protesters.

Protesters mark Juneteenth with a march downtown from the Port of Oakland on June 19, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

ILWU Local 10 worker Elton Meyers emphasized the importance of direct action from unions to effect change: “When their pockets are hurting, that’s the only way to make them realize what’s going on and how serious the situation is.”

Kim Cotton, a Local 24 marine clerk from Oakland, was one of those union members directing cars on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, and said that she thought the majority of her colleagues had chosen to come to the protest. “We’re all human. Nobody’s no different. We’re taught race, color, hate,” she said.

On her own reasons for coming to the protest, Cotton said, “My great-grandmother’s mother was a slave. My great-grandmother worked in the fields. This reaches back to me in heritage, what’s been happening for years.”

Cameron Hamilton from Richmond, another ILWU Local 10 member, commented on the energy he saw in the rally, on the vibe: “People seem fierce. People seem energized, but at the same time calm, like they’ve done it before, like it’s second nature.”

The shutdown meant Hamilton and his fellow union members were going without pay for the day, he confirmed — but that choosing to do so was “not a hard decision.” Labor, he said, has “the people power, funds and infrastructure to lead a movement.”

At the demonstration, relatives of people killed by police spoke to those assembled. They included Michael Brown Sr., the father of Michael Brown, whose killing by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 sparked a momentous wave of protests nationwide.

Another of the speakers was Taun Hall, the mother of Miles Hall: a young Black man with schizoaffective disorder who was killed by police in Walnut Creek in 2019.

Also among the speakers was Pamela Price, an Oakland civil rights attorney. Nodding to the backdrop of a the coronavirus pandemic — one which has been proven to affect Black and Indigenous people of color disproportionately — she called racism in America “a public health crisis.”

‘We’re Done Looking Over Our Shoulders’

Marchers moved slowly throughout the morning towards downtown Oakland, followed by a car caravan that extended for roughly a mile behind them.

At Oakland City Hall, Boots Riley reminded the crowds arriving from the port of the sheer number of people who have taken to streets across the United States recently to protest the killing of Black people by police, recalling how a historic movement as momentous as the 1963 March on Washington gathered “200,000 thousand people — we had these past two weeks millions of people in the street all over the country.”

One of the youngest to take the stage was recent high school graduate Lauryn Campbell of Black Youth for the People’s Liberation, the youth-led group which worked to organize the June 8 East Oakland march in protest of the killing of Oakland man Erik Salgado by California Highway Patrol officers (see below.)

“Today we are here to say we’re done,” Campbell told the crowd. “We’re done hiding our Blackness. We’re done looking over our shoulders.”

Out in the crowd, Paul Williams of Oakland watched with his five children, aged between 4 and 13, who chanted “No justice, no peace” as they held their protest signs. Williams explained he wanted his kids to witness firsthand “how injustice can bring people together to create justice.”

Williams said he also wanted to make sure his family “understands the political and historical effects of racism … I want my children to definitely know and understand what’s happening.”

Paul Williams, of Oakland, brought his five children, ages 4 to 13, to the Juneteenth rally. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Another father at the Juneteenth march, James Cox, brought his 5-year-old daughter with him. “I think it’s important we teach our children the real history of our cultures when they’re young,” he said. “I don’t want to shield her from the reality of what it means to be a Black person in America.”

For Cox, these latest protests feel different — because of the amount of allies he sees in the streets. “For once, it doesn’t feel like just Black people. For white supremacy to end, white people have to do the work.”

Another marcher, Sami Smith, carried a handmade sign proclaiming “Filipinos for black power,” which she said was inspired by a photo she found from the 1960s of a little girl holding a similar sign. This Juneteenth rally was one of many protests Smith has attended in Oakland in the last weeks, and she admitted she found the first nights in the street “definitely tense, and a little scary. But one night the police ended up leaving before we did, and that was a turning point.”

‘This Is Our Independence Day’

Around the Bay Area, people are marking and celebrate Juneteenth this weekend with direct action.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit the Bay Area, and events everywhere announced their inevitable cancellation, the idea of June 19, 2020, passing without any major in-person gatherings to mark Juneteenth seemed to be a real possibility.

But this Juneteenth now falls after weeks of ongoing protests nationwide against the killing of Black people, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade — a movement which has seen direct action in support of Black lives continue night after night around the Bay Area. And while several of the major scheduled festivals aren’t happening this year, there’ll be protests, celebrations and commemorations taking place with a fresh urgency around the Bay Area today and into the weekend.

One such action includes the teenage members of Black Youth for the People’s Liberation. The collective held a Juneteenth event at DeFremery Park in West Oakland on Friday afternoon.

Activists with the newly-formed group Black Youth for the People’s Liberation making signs for the Juneteenth rally and march they organized for Friday afternoon at DeFremery Park in West Oakland. (Vanessa Rancaño/KQED)

On Thursday, one of their founders, 17-year-old Isha Clarke, gathered her fellow activists in the park to make signs for the event, where she and others will be speaking before leading a march through West Oakland. All wore masks, to limit the potential to spread COVID-19.

“I was like, we need to do a Black youth led protest on Juneteenth,” said Clarke. “This is definitely a time to reclaim that holiday and to acknowledge that this is our Independence Day, it’s not the 4th of July.”

Bay Area teenagers with the newly-formed group Black Youth for the People’s Liberation prepping signs for the Juneteenth rally and march they organized for Friday afternoon at DeFremery Park in West Oakland. (Vanessa Rancaño/KQED)

“We’re celebrating all of our ancestors and the people that came before us, who fought since the day they were kidnapped,” Clarke said. “And also acknowledging that we have so much more to do.”

Read the KQED article here.

Categories: Unions

IBU fights to protect members from COVID-19 impacts

ILWU - Tue, 06/16/2020 - 12:36

There’s no doubt about it,” says IBU President Marina Secchitano, “the COVID virus has had a big impact on workers and communities served by IBU members.” Secchitano represents three thousand workers who belong to the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific – the ILWU’s Marine Division.

Winter in the Pacific Northwest ended on a sad note this year, when many IBU members learned about the passing of Esther Bryant-Kyles, a beloved Seattle-based ferry ticket agent who was struck-down by the virus in March. She served in the Washington State Ferry System for 25 years and was “beloved by co-workers and regular customers alike,” said Puget Sound Regional Director Peter Hart.

Ferry workers: essential workers

IBU ferry workers in the Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay and Alaska Region are continuing to provide essential transportation services while coping with layoffs, severe scheduling cuts and the hazards of working during a dangerous pandemic.

Bay Area cuts

Like all public transit agencies, the Golden Gate Ferry System has slashed weekday service and cancelled weekend operations entirely – although most of the regular workforce remains on the payroll, according to IBU Regional Director Robert Estrada. Many of the nearly 40 IBU members are now doing additional maintenance work, he said.

Golden Gate received $14 million in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds for operating assistance from the CARES Act that can be used for employee wages and benefits. It was very disappointing to hear that they decided to save 1/3000th of those funds by cutting 5 jobs,” said Secchitano.

The San Francisco Bay Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), which is operated by Blue & Gold Fleet, now carries roughly 2% of their usual passenger count, says Estrada. They also received CARES Act FTA funds, amounting to $10.5 million with 75 IBU members. The WETA Director and Board of Directors expressed their appreciation at an April 23rd meeting by using the federal funds to keep employees on the payroll.

The Red & White Fleet, a private bay cruise and charter company, has been shuttered since mid-March. Their goal is to resume full service as the situation allows. The Blue & Gold Fleet, also a private company, has closed their bay cruise and charter business, resulting in layoffs of IBU members. Blue & Gold has applied for federal paycheck protection funds and expects to receive them soon. The IBU’s newly organized water taxi company, Tideline Marine has shut-down entirely.

Estrada says that passengers who ride any of the boats remaining in operation are required to wear face-coverings at all times. “There’s a lot more maintenance and sanitizing work being done on the vessels now, but far fewer passengers and trips being made each day,” he says, estimating that about 50 steady IBU positions have been lost in the region due to COVID-19, along with casual/fill-in work which supported approximately 70 people. Most of the lost work has been on tour-boats and ferries.

Abrupt unemployment at Foss

Foss San Francisco laid-off 6 steady workers with only 48-hours notice provided to the IBU. The company’s abrupt and unprecedented move left highly skilled mariners suddenly unemployed. The IBU continues pressing Foss to provide some benefits for these members to assist with their transition.

Devastating fire

A massive early-morning fire destroyed portions of San Francisco’s Pier 45 on May 23. The raging fire destroyed much the crab fleet’s equipment along with offices and an engineering shed for the Red & White Ferry fleet. Both Estrada and Red & White Fleet officials described the fire as the latest blow in an already difficult year – but said they were confident the company would recover. ILWU Local 10 member Kelly Kane responded to the disaster by encouraging fellow longshore workers and friends to donate funds to help the devastated crab fishermen, using a “Go-fund-me” page that raised almost $80,000 in the first week.

Washington State Cutbacks

Washington State Ferries have extended their reduced Winter schedules up to June 20 – and they may continue it further into the Summer. Ferries are carrying essential workers who need to reach their jobs and provide supplies to remote communities.

“Right now there are fewer vessels operating – and the busy summer season just isn’t going to happen this year,” says Regional Director Peter Hart. He added that a push for Personal Protective Equipment has resulted in most workers now receiving the equipment they need. Canada’s borders are closed to most traffic, including ferries, which forced the Black Ball Ferry to close and lay-off workers until the border re-opens, but they have applied for and received paycheck protection money from the Feds. The Bellingham terminal for Alaska’s Ferry System is also impacted.

Alaska ferry fight

Alaska’s public ferry system was already hurting from last year’s budget cuts imposed by Governor Mike Dunleavy. He wants a private system that would serve far fewer communities and eliminate good union jobs. As of mid-May, the system was down to one ferry serving Ketchikan, plus the nearly-new “Tazlina,” christened in 2018, that\ now runs from Juneau to remote coastal villages before reaching Haines and Skagway. More vessels may soon be added, but they would still amount to a fraction of normal summer operations.

Communities suffer

“The Governor’s cuts have severely hurt ferry workers and the communities we serve,” said IBU Alaska Regional Director Trina Arnold. She said dozens of communities no longer have ferry service, including ones with little or no road access. She added that many have significant Native populations and small business owners who depend heavily on the ferries.

A vital lifeline

“Ferries are a lifeline to those communities, so when the Governor made deep cuts last fall, it was devastating,” says Arnold, noting that everyone was hoping for a strong Summer season until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“Summer is when many Alaskans make a majority of their income, so now we’re just taking it day-by-day – and pushing hard to restore ferry service that workers and communities desperately need.”

Help from the union

IBU President Marina Secchitano and Regional Director Arnold worked with state legislators, the ILWU’s International Officers and Legislative Office in Washington, DC to secure more funding for the ferries – and help for furloughed ferry workers.

“Without a union, none of this would have been possible,” says Arnold, who thanked the ILWU for the joint effort that succeeded in Congress. Despite the added funding, IBU members still face resistance from management dispatchers at the Ketchikan central office, who “always seem to be searching for new ways to avoid paying crewmembers,” says Arnold. “We won’t stop until all IBU members are paid for what they would have worked, but couldn’t because of the pandemic,” she says.

Airline goes bankrupt

Part of the Governor’s excuse for destroying his state’s Marine Highway system was based on faulty claims that air travel could replace the ferries. That scheme ran aground on April 2 when Ravn Air declared bankruptcy. It was the state’s largest regional carrier with 72 planes and 1,300 employees who served 115 Alaskan communities – including 20 towns with no other carrier. Alaska Airlines has begun serving some, but not all, of Ravn’s previous routes. Ravn initially talked about re-organizing, then liquidated their planes and other assets in late May. One week before declaring bankruptcy, the Trump administration approved a set of bailout grants for the troubled airline. Less help has been available for residents and seasonal workers trying to reach remote communities, including Dutch Harbor and Unalaska on the Aleutian Peninsula.

Dutch Harbor

The IBU negotiated a new contract using Zoom internet video for members in the City of Unalaska. “That was a first – and we reached agreement on a good package for members in just two days!” said Arnold. Valdez

Workers at Alaska Nautical in the remote port of Valdez have been impacted by the lack of cruise ships due to COVID-19, along with a drop in oil production, but IBU members continue to work.

Privatization push continues

Alaska’s pro-privatization governor continues pushing his agenda to replace the public system with one that’s more private with weaker unions. His latest buzzword for privatizing is “re-shaping” and he’s created a business- heavy committee with just one labor representative to carry out his will. Regional Director Trina Arnold monitors the process closely and keeps in contact with the sole union representative in order to make sure IBU members have a voice in the process, even if it appears to be rigged from the beginning.

“Alaska’s IBU members have been through a grueling year, but there’s no alternative except giving-up or giving, and that’s just not in the cards,” says President Marina Secchitano. “Too many people depend on a good public ferry system, both customer and workers, to let it go down the tubes,” she said, vowing to continue the fight, “as long as it takes to win.”

A significant success

An intense public pressure campaign during the past year appears to have resulted in a significant victory: funding is now being restored to Alaska’s Marine Highway System! The IBU joined with labor and community allies to create Friends of the Alaska Marine Highway System. The Friends group contacted hundreds of thousands of Alaska voters with legislative and funding updates. They also pressed legislators to fully fund the state’s Marine Highway System. As The Dispatcher was going to press, 90% of the System’s funding had been secured. Friends is now working with leading legislators to protect funding in the future.

“While the AMHS funding is not yet complete, the danger we faced six months ago has passed. But we must remain vigilant and continue the pressure on state legislators while keeping voters informed with regular updates. We can’t be complacent with this Governor. Although he lost this round, he will keep fighting if we let our guard down. Friends of the Alaska Marine Highway has been successful, and we must continue our support for this important effort,” says Secchitano.

Concern for cannery workers

Five hundred members of IBU’s Region 37 who work in Alaska’s salmon canneries each summer have been unsure whether the COVID-19 pandemic will allow them to work this year. In a typical season, workers begin arriving in early summer, many coming from Seattle and other out-of-state locations.

This year Alaska imposed a two-week quarantine on everyone entering the state, including seasonal workers. Some cannery workers have been allowed to quarantine in Seattle, then fly to work in canneries via special arrangement with state officials, while others are being paid by employers to quarantine in Alaska.

Alaska’s economy has been hit hard by falling oil and gas revenue – along with tourism that vanished this summer as cruise ships shut down. Fishing is another significant source of jobs and income for the state. The IBU is pushing for safe working conditions in fish-processing plants so employees could resume their seasonal jobs without unnecessary risks from COVID-19. One problem is that some of the facilities are in remote areas with minimal medical resources – requiring evacuation if anyone becomes seriously ill.

Hawaii & Southern California

IBU tug and barge workers in Hawaii are trying to hold onto jobs as the local economy is battered byvCOVID-19 and the resulting loss of tourist income. Sause Brothers interisland barge service recently eliminated one barge, resulting in 11 layoffs.

The company provided each laid-off employee with a $4000 lump sum payment to assist with their transition. A one-year contract extension was also signed with a 2% wage increase in 12 months.

Elsewhere on the islands, workers at Foss-Harbor recently agreed to temporary wage reductions in order to avoid layoffs. Young Brothers agreed to nine temporary lay-offs, and no wage reductions. The company applied to the State of Hawaii for $25 million of the State’s $600 million in COVID-19 federal relief funds. They said inter-island service will be cut to local communities unless the company receives more funding. Harris L3 agreed to a 2.25% wage increase for IBU members and a 1-year extension. P & M Services received federal paycheck protection funds and will continue honoring the contract despite the loss of cruise ship assist work this year. As The Dispatcher was going to press, IBU Southern California Regional Director John Skow was meeting with Foss in order to find creative ways to avoid layoffs.


In an effort to assist IBU members who were laid-off due to COVID-19, the union proposed that the IBU Health Plan offer 3 months of coverage at reduced rates for plan members who were covered for May 2020. The discounted rate will cost $250 per month and was approved by a majority of the trustees. IBU President Marina Secchitano says the COVID-19 pandemic “has dramatically changed our lives – especially for members who meet the challenge each day as essential workers on the front line. Their efforts to keep commerce moving is noble and appreciated by our communities and the nation. Wearing masks, and observing social distancing when possible, is how we are going to protect ourselves and others. We will continue fighting to protect IBU members and their families – on the local level and in Congress. This is a difficult time, but we have seen tough times before and we will pull through this.”

Categories: Unions

Bill Carder: a humble, effective fighter for the working class

ILWU - Tue, 06/16/2020 - 11:07

William “Bill” Carder, who served as the ILWU’s top legal counsel for nearly two decades, passed away on May 21 in Oakland after a long illness at the age of 78.

Carder was raised in a Southern California working-class family. His father was a short-order cook who eventually saved enough to open a chain of restaurants. Carder did well in school and graduated from the UC Berkeley School of Law in 1966. He quickly secured an important job at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Enforcement Division in Washington, DC.

Before long, a law school friend encouraged him to leave the new job behind and join the legal team for the newly-formed United Farm Workers of America (UFW) – created a year earlier when César Chávez merged his group with a seasoned network of militant Filipino farm workers. Carder and his then-wife Joanne, left Washington with their newborn daughter and headed to the small agricultural town of Delano in California’s Central Valley where the Farmworkers Union was based. During the next decade, Carder and his wife contributed long hours to help workers organize in the fields, win strikes and conduct consumer boycotts that made it possible for thousands of farmworkers to improve working conditions with union contracts. The effort gained national attention and was seen by many as an extension of the Civil Rights Movement.

An excellent lawyer

Released from jail: United Farmworkers Union President César Chávez was
released from a Monterey County jail on Christmas Eve in 1970, thanks to excellent
legal work by Bill Carder, on far right.

While at the UFW, Carder handled important cases, including one requiring him to persuade the California Supreme Court to release UFW President Cesar Chavez from jail on Christmas Eve in 1970. Chavez had been given an indefinite jail sentence by a grower-friendly judge on December 4 until the union leader agreed to end a nationwide boycott of lettuce grown in the Salinas Valley. As he was being taken away to jail, Chavez defied the judge by shouting to union members, “Boycott the hell out of them!”

Fighting Teamster corruption

During the previous summer, the UFW signed contracts with most of the state’s grape growers in California’s Central Valley. At the same time, vegetable growers in the Salinas Valley signed “sweetheart contracts” with Teamster officials in an effort to sabotage the more militant Farmworkers Union. The ILWU joined with other unions to oppose the Teamster/grower alliance against the UFW in Salinas, and did the same when Teamsters tried to thwart the UFW’s progress with Central Valley grape growers.

Early ILWU connections

Local 34 activist Don Watson and other ILWU members organized weekly caravans that delivered volunteers and donations to the besieged union in Salinas. Carder’s contribution to the high-stakes struggle in “the nation’s salad bowl” was to design a federal anti-trust legal challenge to the Teamster/grower alliance – an innovative strategy that ultimately pressured Teamster officials to yield jurisdiction to the UFW in 1977. That effort and other work led UFW General Counsel Jerry Cohen to hail Carder as “the best labor lawyer in the country.”

Leaving the Farmworkers union

In 1974, Carder left the UFW. Thirty-seven years later, he attended a community forum at the ILWU headquarters in San Francisco where author Frank Bardacke was presenting his important book, “Trampling Out the Vintage – César Chávez and the Two Souls of the United Farmworkers Union,” which offered a candid and constructively critical appraisal of Chávez. In his usual way, Carder listened patiently, then added a few clarifying facts and well-reasoned opinions in a respectful manner that furthered the discussion.

A new partnership

After leaving the UFW, Carder initially started his own labor law practice, but soon partnered with another well-respected, older labor attorney,= Norman “Norm” Leonard, who had been the ILWU’s lead counsel since the 1950’s. Over the next ten years, the two worked together with Carder eventually becoming the ILWU’s lead counsel in 1986. The law firm is still known today as “Leonard Carder, LLP” a name that reflects their longstanding partnership.

Advocating for the ILWU

During his three decades at the  firm, Bill oversaw and personally litigated the ILWU’s most important legal matters. He and ILWU attorney Richard Zuckerman won a thirteen-year battle to secure ILWU longshore jurisdiction in the face of new technologies, establishing legal precedents that benefited all unions nationally. He also developed the legal foundation for new ILWU longshore worker registration programs that were needed in the mid- 1980’s when demand for dockworkers was growing. He also successfully defended the ILWU against new legal strategies developed by management lawyers to weaken unions, including abuse of RICO and antitrust laws.

Opposing war in Central America

In the late 1980’s, Carder became increasingly concerned with the government’s covert war in Central America, which allied the U.S. with repressive, anti-union regimes. He arranged a meeting between ILWU International President Jimmy Herman and Neighbor to Neighbor leader Fred Ross, Jr., to discuss efforts that could help end U.S. funding for the Contras in Nicaragua – and seek an end to the civil war in El Salvador.

That meeting led to an international boycott of Salvadoran coffee. ILWU members in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver, Canada, refused to cross Neighbor to Neighbor picket lines over Salvadoran coffee shipments. Those actions, along with many others, contributed to a negotiated end of the civil war in El Salvador. Carder defended the ILWU against employer lawsuits that were filed against the union for honoring picket lines and the coffee boycott.

Working as a community organizer

In the early 1990’s, Carder took a leave of absence from the law firm to do community organizing work, first with Neighbor to Neighbor, where he traveled to the state of Maine and organized citizens to pressure Republican Senator Olympia Snow to end the war in Central America. He then took an assignment with the Bay Area Organizing Committee, a project of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), founded by Saul Alinsky. Both projects aimed to empower communities afflicted by poverty and injustice. He returned to the law firm in 1995 where he devoted another decade of work to the ILWU.

Helping organize new workers

During his final years with the ILWU, Carder increasingly focused on providing legal support for the union’s new-member organizing campaigns, first under the direction of ILWU Regional Director Leroy King and later with retired Organizing Director Peter Olney. Carder played important roles with two campaigns that inspired a new, younger generation of workers to join the ILWU. One was the San Francisco Bike Messenger organizing drive that involved a partnership with ILWU Local 6, spearheaded by Secretary-Treasurer Fred Pecker. The second campaign involved helping hundreds of workers organize at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. That successful effort led to the creation of ILWU Local 5.

Man of many interests

Carder made a point of creating a life that went beyond his devotion to organizing and unions. His partner of 38 years, Sonia Lifshay, says Carder was a very good photographer who explored subjects ranging from Oakland storefronts to remote locations that they visited in Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. His enjoyment of music ranged “from hip-hop to Beethoven,” she says, and his reading lists covered the classics to political journals. The last book he purchased, but didn’t finish, was “Fear – Trump in the White House,” by Bob Woodward.

“Bill wasn’t a typical alpha-male,” says Sonia, speaking to The Dispatcher from the modest Oakland bungalow that she and Bill shared for nearly four decades without being formally married. “We lived in sin for all those years,” she says.

Continuing despite poor health

Carder retired from the law firm he co-founded in 2004, but remained active with the ILWU, volunteering to help many more organizing campaigns during his remaining years. He also donated his skills to help low-income and immigrant workers in the East Bay.

Helping workers in Boron

In 2009, Carder helped over 400 ILWU members at Local 30 in Boron to prepare for a successful battle against Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest and most powerful mining corporations. The company was demanding concessions at the negotiating table and using hardball tactics on the job – all aimed at forcing workers into a hopeless economic strike. Carder helped develop a counter-strategy to increase members’ power on the job and provide the union with more leverage. He participated in training sessions where members learned how to refuse company demands for overtime, and respond creatively to other company provocations by organizing on the shop floor.

He explained how allowing the contract to expire – and continuing to work without a contract – would provide workers with powerful rights on the job – including the ability to conduct job actions without fear of reprisal or replacement. His efforts helped avert a potentially disastrous economic strike and put Rio Tinto on the defensive after the company locked-out workers on January 31, 2010 for 15 weeks. The lockout helped the union to win sympathy and support from communities in the high desert, throughout Southern California and around the world.

Former ILWU Organizing Director Peter Olney said, “Bill provided us with invaluable advice over the many years that he helped ILWU workers win organizing campaigns. He was generous with his time and did it all while facing real health challenges, which made Bill so extraordinary.”

Help for Rite Aid workers

In 2011, Carder provided advice and support that helped almost 500 workers at Rite Aid’s Regional Distribution Center in Lancaster win their first contract. Using his expertise with consumer boycotts learned during his time with the United Farmworkers Union, Carder advised the ILWU how to organize a successful boycott of Rite Aid’s lucrative prescription drug business.

Supporting recycling workers During the same years, Carder donated time to help low-wage recycling workers in the Easy Bay win dramatic improvements. The multi-year effort was organized jointly with Local 6, but complicated because Teamster officials were colluding with employers to undermine the campaign – the same tactics Carder faced decades before at the Farmworkers Union. Carder sat patiently with recycling workers in dozens of bi-lingual meetings and trainings. His advice and reassurance – including the right of workers to take action during an expired contract – helped members gain confidence, win their strikes and secure dramatic contract gains.

Praise from ILWU President

ILWU International President Willie Adams said, “Bill Carder was one hundred percent devoted to helping working-class people learn about their rights to organize and build power. He was patient, took time to listen and took direction from workers, whether they labored in the fields, in a factory or on the waterfront. Those are special qualities that are rare among attorneys, and we remain eternally grateful for all his contributions.”

Carder is survived by his partner of 38 years, Sonia Lifshay; his daughter Sara Carder, her son (Bill’s grandson) Leo Paasch; Bill’s son, Benjamin Carder; his brother Donald Carder and five nieces and nephews.

Categories: Unions

Local 13 statement on Juneteenth observance

ILWU - Mon, 06/15/2020 - 12:25

Categories: Unions

West coast dockworkers will observe Juneteenth: Work will stop for eight hours on historic day

ILWU - Mon, 06/15/2020 - 10:36

SAN FRANCISCO – ILWU dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports will stop work for eight hours on Friday, June 19, in observance of Juneteenth – the date in 1865 when Black slaves in Texas first learned of their emancipation.

“Juneteenth has long been recognized by the African-American community, but for many others it was unknown until now – as our nation, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, refocuses on ways to address ongoing, systemic racial injustice,” said ILWU International President Willie Adams. “Thousands of dockworkers will stop work for the first shift on June 19, 2020, to show their commitment to the cause of racial equality and social justice.”

The plans for June 19 follow a brief action on June 9, when ILWU dockworkers stopped working for nine minutes to pay tribute to Mr. Floyd in conjunction with his funeral service in Houston, Texas.

“Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States,” said ILWU International SecretaryTreasurer Ed Ferris, who attended Mr. Floyd’s memorial on June 8. “It’s appropriate and necessary for us to acknowledge this history in the search for ways to end racism and restore justice for all Americans.”

ILWU International Executive Board member Melvin Mackay also attended Mr. Floyd’s memorial. “It’s been 157 years since the Emancipation Proclamation,” said Mackay, “but our nation remains plagued by systemic racism, as the murder of Mr. Floyd so tragically demonstrated. We can and must do better.”

Events celebrating Juneteenth and the push for racial and social justice are being organized by dockworkers at West Coast ports, including Los Angeles/Long Beach, the Bay Area, and Puget Sound.

“On June 19, I’ll be supporting my union brothers and sisters in Southern California,” said International Vice-President Bobby Olvera, Jr., who represents ILWU members on the mainland. “We feel compelled to act on June 19 against racism, hate, and intolerance, while our nation endures a devastating pandemic and painful new wounds from a President who prefers division over unity.”

President Adams said, “We’re approaching June 19 in the spirit of our Union’s founders, including some who gave their lives in 1934. We still live by their creed: ‘an injury to one is an injury to all.’”

Download the press release here

Categories: Unions

Honoring fallen dockworkers at SoCal First Blood memorial

ILWU - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 16:01

COVID-19 required a smaller ceremony: Far fewer were able to attend this year’s annual “First Blood” event in San Pedro, but the ceremony was just as dignified and heartfelt.

On May 15, ILWU members, pensioners, auxiliary and officers from Locals 13, 63 and 94 gathered at the Longshore memorial in San Pedro’s Gibson Park for the 18th annual First Blood Memorial to honor longshore workers who died while working at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

During the ceremony, Pacific Coast Pensioner (PCPA) President Greg Mitre read the names of each the fallen workers. A bell was rung following each name. This year’s ceremony also honored members from the Inlandboatmen’s Union, the ILWU’s Maritime Division, and Port Security Guards from ILWU Local 26, who were killed on the job.

First Blood in ’34

ILWU members gather each year in front of a bust of ILWU co-founder Harry Bridges and a plaque bearing names of ILWU members who have been killed while working on the docks. In addition to honoring ILWU workers killed on the job, the event commemorates the early struggles by West Coast longshore workers for fair wages, hours and working conditions.

The First Blood ceremony recalls a violent clash between dockworkers and company-paid strikebreakers on May 15, 1934.

Remembering Jose Santoya

This year, Mitre read a new name into the record after Jose Santoya became the 69th dockworker added to the memorial plaque. Santoya, a 58-year-old father and ILWU mechanic, was killed one-year ago on May 15th when a tire exploded, killing him and severely injuring his co-worker, Pedro Chavarin. Members of Santoya’s family were on hand to mark the anniversary. They wore white t-shirts with Jose’s registration number written on the back.

The First Blood memorial is an important tradition in Southern California that typically draws hundreds of ILWU members, pensioners and supporters. Mitre said that COVID-19 concerns made a large event impossible so the gathering was scaled-down. Participants were physically-distanced and all wore masks to ensure everyone’s safety. Mitre said it was important to hold the event this year, despite the pandemic, to underscore the dangers of waterfront work. Dockworkers are considered “essential” and have been required to work during the pandemic to keep the global supply chain moving.

Elected officers from the Southern California Pensioners Group were the only pensioners invited this year, in an effort to keep the gathering small and safe.

ILWU Local 13 President Ramon Ponce De Leon and Local 13 Vice President Jesse Enriquez both attended the event. As has been a tradition for many years, flowers were provided Locals 13, 63, and 94.

“I wasn’t going to let the tradition die on my watch, so I proposed a smaller, social-distancing event,” Mitre said. “It was especially important because our brother, Jose Santoyo, had been killed exactly one-year prior in the Fenix Marine terminal accident. His entire family contacted me to express their wish to attend and observe our putting Jose’s name on the stone plaque where Harry is located. Jose’s is the 69th name we’ve had to etch into the plaque, and his death was a real tragedy.”

Categories: Unions

ILWU LEGISLATIVE REPORT: How Trump’s COVID-19 response caused needless deaths & economic damage – and what we can do about it

ILWU - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 14:53

Our union’s legislative staff in Washington are working with the International Officers to help ILWU families cope with the COVID-19 pandemic that’s causing so much death, job loss and economic hardship for working families.

It didn’t have to be this way. Since Trump took office over three years ago, he repeatedly cut funds for public health, pandemic response and the Center for Disease Control. These cutbacks weakened our nation’s pandemic response team and ended a program that tracked disease outbreaks in China. He also ignored multiple congressional directives to increase our national stockpile of emergency medical supplies – along with calls to protect transportation workers in the supply chain from a pandemic.

His reckless spending cuts made the COVID-19 outbreak much worse when it arrived early this year, leaving us with two painful conclusions:

Pubic health programs are wise investments that our country needs to save lives and protect our economy – including 40 million good jobs for working families that have vanished. The President’s refusal to follow public health guidelines made the pandemic much worse, confirmed in a new study showing that over 30,000 lives would have been saved if Trump had listened to experts and acted just one week earlier to encourage “shelter-in-place” guidelines. Over 50,000 would be alive today if he’d acted just two weeks earlier.

Second, we’re reminded that health care for every American should be a basic human right – because losing it causes both personal pain and damage to our economy, especially during a pandemic.

Before COVID-19 hit, Trump took away health coverage from seven million Americans. Now with 40 million Americans unemployed, 27 million of them have lost their health insurance. This means millions of Americans are much less likely to be tested or see a doctor and much more likely to spread the virus and/or be harmed by it.

The President wants us to believe that the COVID-19 problem can be solved by “opening the economy” – just in time for his re-election campaign – but scientists say the facts tell a different story:

  • The number of COVID-19 deaths will grow 50% by August to 150,000.
  • Those numbers will continue to increase if Trump “opens” the economy without protecting workers and the public.
  • The number of COVID-19 cases is already rising in a dozen states, including some where virus controls are being eased.

Trump’s unwillingness to rely on health experts and admit mistakes – while spreading rumors and false claims about cures and treatments – has also made the pandemic worse:

  • In late January, top Trump advisor Peter Navarro warned the President that COVID-19 could cost trillions in economic damage and kill many Americans.
  • On February 25, Trump told a news conference that the coronavirus is “well under control” and there are “very few people with it.”
  • The same day, his top economic adviser Larry Kudlow told CNBC that the U.S. had “contained” the coronavirus and it was unlikely to become a “tragedy.”
  • Trump later tweeted, “Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.… Stock Market starting to look verygood to me!”
  • A follow-up Tweet from the President said: “the risk to the American people remains very low. … When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

Since then, Trump has bragged that “anyone who wanted a test could get one,” and claimed the U.S. was doing a better testing job than any country in the world.

While the President was making those claims, frontline health and supply chain workers, including ILWU members – weren’t always getting the personal protective equipment they needed.

In the face of these two disasters –the COVID-19 pandemic and the Trump presidency – ILWU International officers and the Washington, DC legislative staff have been fighting to secure emergency relief for the unemployed and vulnerable, with better protection for essential workers.

ILWU leaders have gone into overdrive, holding calls almost daily to direct the union’s lobbying operation – reaching out to senior elected leaders and federal agency heads, and leading coordinating campaigns with other maritime labor organizations and port industry stakeholders. Like everywhere else, COVID-19 physical distancing rules have complicated advocacy in Washington DC, because congressional staff are now working from their homes and Congress members have been reluctant to gather after a number tested positive and were sickened by the virus. Most federal agencies have also sent workers home until the COVID- 19 rates drop. These obstacles have not stopped the ILWU leadership from working 24-7 through emails, texts and calls to reach key congressional staffers and agency officials.

The House and Senate have already sent four separate emergency relief packages to Trump’s desk to address the coronavirus emergency. The first relief bill provided emergency funding to federal agencies that were responding to the pandemic. The second provided money to hospitals, state and local governments and small business loans. This second bill also required some midsized companies to provide workers with paid sick leave during the crisis.

It quickly became apparent that the first three relief packages fell short of helping all the workers and companies who needed assistance. The need became clear when tens of millions started losing their jobs as businesses closed. This led to the $2.2 trillion package, called CARES, which extended unemployment benefits, covered many independent contractors and added $600 per week to unemployment benefits through July 31.

Congress also created the Paycheck Protection Program that offered forgivable loans to help businesses with under 500 employees continue their payrolls during the COVID 19 crisis. The CARES Act also included a stimulus check of $1200 per adult and $500 per child in a household. Local transit agencies, including ferry operators on the West Coast and Alaska, received over $26 billion – money that is helping many members of the Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU) remain on the job.

An “interim” relief bill costing over $480 billion was passed shortly after the CARES Act to cover more employees working at small businesses, provide help to hospitals, and pay for widespread testing. The $25 billion testing program will finally establish a national workplace COVID-19 testing system and provide additional money for protective equipment. This last allocation should help ILWU members who return or remain on the job.

Along with these programs intended to help workers and small business was a demand from the Trump Administration for a $500 billion corporate bailout fund. Without a labor-friendly majority in Congress, it was impossible to stop Trump from giving these public dollars to corporations that have been earning record profits and rewarding top executives – while skimping on worker pay and benefits. The ILWU supported labor-friendly legislators who were able to add a few safeguards, including an Inspector-General to protect funds from being abused – a measure Trump immediately dismissed and tried to weaken. The ILWU and worker advocates also succeeded in passing a measure barring executives from collecting corporate bonuses if they took any bailout money.

As the economic damage from COVID-19 continued to mount during the month of May, a worker-friendly-majority in the House of Representatives passed a bill on May 15, which included many ILWU priorities. Work is now underway to make progress in the Senate, where worker-friendly members are in the minority and face opposition from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who says he will oppose any further aid for working families. Despite his opposition, the ILWU will continue working with labor-friendly representatives to advance these provisions in the bill

passed by the House

  1.  A bonus of up to $10,000 for longshore workers, maritime workers and other essential workers who are risking their lives to keep the supply-chain open.
  2. Automatic enrollment in the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation program for longshore workers who are diagnosed with COVID-19.
  3. An additional $16 million to the Federal Transit Administration that would help ferry systems survive the crisis.
  4. Assistance to ILWU members who have difficulty paying rent during the crisis.
  5.  A temporary ban on credit agencies from reporting negative information about worker finances during the crisis.
  6. Short term relief for ILWU pension plans during the downturn. Despite facing the most anti-union President in many decades, ILWU leaders will continue advocating to help workers survive the COVID-crisis with support for families as we try to rebuild our country.

“The ILWU has faced opposition from anti-union forces in the past and we didn’t back down. We won’t back down,” said International President Adams. “We will keep pushing to make more progress in Washington – despite opposition from the White House and Senate.”

This report was compiled by ILWU Legislative Director Lindsay McLaughlin and Legislative Consultant Kyle Mulhall

Categories: Unions

ILWU responds to a triple crisis:

ILWU - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 10:38
• George Floyd murder launches national action • COVID-19 death toll in U.S. claims over 100,000 lives • Trump threatens to block voting & deploy military International Officers & Executive Board take action

Black Lives Matter: Thousands of Bay Area activists participated in a car-caravan protest on May 31 that went by
the Port of Oakland to protest the police killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police. The killing has sparked ongoing
protest in over 140 cities affecting every state in the union. Photo by Brooke Anderson

Americans were already reeling in late May from the COVID-19 pandemic that claimed its 100,000th victim – the highest death toll in the world – and pushed over 40 million out of work – made worse by a chaotic, bungled federal response.

The pandemic was still raging out of control on May 25 when a group of four Minneapolis Police officers were caught on a cell phone video brutally murdering George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man who suffered a painful  horrifying death that lasted almost nine minutes. The incident triggered nationwide protests that were continuing as The Dispatcher went to press.

“America is facing our largest and most challenging crisis in decades,” said ILWU International President Willie Adams. “Our response must be thoughtful, determined and guided by our union’s principles of justice and racial equality,” he said.

Strongly-worded response

The ILWU responded immediately to Mr. Floyd’s murder with a strongly-worded letter sent by President Adams on behalf of ILWU members to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, State Attorney General Keith Ellison, and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.

The letter called for the police officers responsible to be charged and tried for murder, noting that the ILWU, “…has a rich history of fighting for racial and social justice. We cannot sit back and watch the same scene unfold time and time again.”

(See the full text of President Adams’ letter here.)

The ILWU followed-up with a letter sent to Mr. Floyd’s family, conveying condolences on behalf of the union’s membership and expressing solidarity with the suffering and hardship inflicted on the family and the nation.

“The ILWU has a long and proud history of fighting for racial and social justice and our union stands in solidarity with you today. We will continue to fight for a world in which black and brown people do not have to live in fear. We will continue to fight for a world where everyone can live with dignity and respect. We will continue to demand justice for Brother Floyd.”

(See the complete letter to Mr. Floyd’s family here.)

Movement for Black Lives

Protesters across the country responded to Mr. Floyd’s murder, including ILWU members and leaders, who participated in predominantly peaceful demonstrations. Many of these actions were organized by the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), a growing national network led mostly by young people of color.

Military against protesters

President Trump chose to ignore the vast majority of peaceful protesters and focus instead on the tiny number of violent actors, in order to justify a broad new “law and order” campaign to violently suppress peaceful demonstrators.

The President also threatened to send U.S. armed forces into America’s cities and towns. In Washington, DC, the President’s team sent dozens of armored vehicles onto city streets, put military helicopters into the air with instructions to intimidate protesters and readied thousands of troops to march on protesters with bayonets fixed on automatic weapons.

Voter suppression

Political analysts said President Trump was involving the military and smearing peaceful protesters in order to gain votes for his troubled re-election campaign. The President seemed to confirm his political motives by also launching a campaign to block states from encouraging voters to cast ballots by mail – now a practical necessity because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump threatened to withhold funds from states who encourage vote-by-mail, falsely claiming that mail ballots are somehow more likely to be fraudulent. In fact, voting-by-mail has long been used successfully in dozens of states, with no evidence that it is in any way associated with fraud.

Military leaders draw the line

Trump, who dodged the draft with five deferments because of “bone spurs,” surrounded himself with military brass from the beginning of his term, calling them, “my generals.” Some of those, including General Mattis who served as Trump’s Defense Secretary, are now criticizing the President as a danger to the nation.

ILWU leaders take action

On May 11, the ILWU International Executive Board (IEB) held a special meeting – on Zoom video because of the COVID-19 pandemic – to address the nation’s political circumstances and choose the best candidate to help working families and union members in the November Presidential election. After a brief discussion, Board members voted overwhelmingly to endorse former Vice President Joe Biden for President. Three Board members voted against the endorsement.

Statement of Policy adopted

A Statement of Policy concerning the Presidential election was adopted by the Executive Board. It began by outlining the challenges facing American workers and the need for new leadership in the White House:

“As the nation faces the weight of an ongoing pandemic, the corrosion of labor law, environmental protection, budget cuts in education, public services, growing tolerance of racism and gender prejudice, the collapse of the health care system, and ongoing economic recession, there has never been a more urgent time to defeat Donald Trump than in this presidential election. Vice President Joe Biden is the only candidate for the task of uniting Americans and other candidates. He has a solid record of supporting working families and their interests. We are confident the Vice President will support sensible tax policies (rather than tax cuts for the one-percenters); public education (rather than charter schools and vouchers); expanded health care coverage; reform of our labor laws, fairer trade agreements, and reasonable immigration policies.

“Over the past several months, Vice President Biden has demonstrated a remarkable ability to campaign and activate voters. His campaign, once thought to be moderate, stormed back to build an insurmountable lead in the Democratic Party forcing the other candidates to drop out in unity and endorse him for President. His electability is critical if we are to have any hope of removing the current occupant of the White House. Simply said, we need a candidate who can beat Donald Trump in November and Vice President Joe Biden is that candidate at this time in U.S. history.”

See the complete Statement of Policy here. 

Other IEB action taken on May 11 Local 142 member Denise Sherman was sworn-in by President Adams as a new member of the International Executive Board for Hawaii.

It was also announced that the August IEB meeting in Canada has been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The next International Executive Board meeting will be held on June 18-19, again using Zoom internet video because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Categories: Unions

ITF solidarity statement with Alaska Longshore workers (Unit 60)

ILWU - Wed, 06/10/2020 - 10:05
400,000 dockers stand with Seward, Alaska in condemning Possehl Erzkontor and Alaska Logistics

Photo by Suzi Ramsey Towsley

The ITF Dockers, representing 400,000 dock workers worldwide, stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Seward, Alaska, represented by International Longshore and Warehouse Workers Union (ILWU Unit 60).

We condemn the actions by Possehl Erzkontor GmbH (Peter Cremer) and Alaska Logistics, who have recently hired non-union, out-of-state longshore workers to perform jobs historically done by members of ILWU Unit 60. The actions of Alaska Logistics are nothing short of union-busting.

We further condemn the arrest of the five members of the ILWU for picketing and charged by the Seward Police for civil disobedience, simply because they were defending good community jobs. We call for charges to be dropped, and for the police to recognise the rights provided under the first amendment of the United States Constitution.

Never in our lifetime have we seen such economic uncertainty – the highest economic inequality, record levels of unemployment, and an attack on union rights. Alaska Logistics, in hiring workers on substandard wages, threatens the economic livelihood in Seward. For decades, the hard work of the sisters and brothers of the ILWU, along with their economic buying power, has helped small business and the local community prosper. This is now at stake.

Paddy Crumlin, ITF President and Dockers’ Section Chair, said: “Alaska Logistics must be held accountable for their union busting. The local politicians need to intervene to stop this race to the bottom by ensuring that the work is done by qualified longshore workers.

“Further, the arrest of five longshore workers is abhorrent, these men and women were standing up for their community. We will continue to stand with our sisters and brothers from ILWU Unit 60 until Alaska Logistics reverses it course.

“Possehl Erzkontor GmbH (Peter Cremer) and Alaska Logistics must be held accountable, it is time for Possell Erzkontor to intervene to ensure that no further harm is done to the workers’ community,” said Paddy Crumlin.

Categories: Unions

Daily Breeze: Dockworkers in San Pedro-Wilmington-Long Beach join in George Floyd tribute Tuesday

ILWU - Wed, 06/10/2020 - 09:39

Workers at APM Terminals on Pier 400 in the Port of Los Angele were among International Longshore and Warehouse members paying tribute to George Floyd Tuesday, June 9, on the day he was laid to rest. Photo by Robin Doyno

Dockworkers all along the West Coast stopped work for nine minutes at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, Jun 9, to honor George Floyd on the day he was being laid to rest.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed May 25, in Minneapolis when a white police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. That officer was charged with second-degree murder, and three other officers face lesser charges as well. Floyd’s death, meanwhile, set off a wave of protests nationwide against racial injustice and police brutality.

Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union participated in Tuesday’s tribute at APM Terminals, on Pier 400, in the Port of Los Angeles. Local union members work at both the LA port and the Port of Long Beach.

“Our union has a long history of confronting racism on the job, in our communities and around the world,” said ILWU International President Willie Adams. “Today we’re joining millions of people who are demanding justice and fundamental change.”

Read the Daily Breeze article here.

Categories: Unions


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