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Watch: Angela Davis speaks at the Juneteenth port shutdown

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

Drone footage courtesy of EKF Production

Categories: Unions

India: Oppose India's suspension of labour laws - sign the petition

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 06/21/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: BWI
Categories: Labor News

USA: Big Talk From Big Tech On Racial Equity, But Not All Workers Are Buying It

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 06/20/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: WBHM
Categories: Labor News

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

Canada: Union workers shut down West Coast ports in support of Juneteenth

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 06/19/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: CBC
Categories: Labor News

Global: Workers' rights seen crumbling as coronavirus threatens further setbacks

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 06/18/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Reuters
Categories: Labor News

Georgia: Labour Reform Introduced in Parliament

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 06/17/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Human Rights Watch
Categories: Labor News

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.

Healthcare

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

Ukraine: Lugansk: authorities cough up miners’ unpaid wages, but activists still under arrest

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 06/14/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: People and Nature
Categories: Labor News

Canada: We have farmed out tragedy to the migrant workers who provide our food

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 06/13/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Globe and Mail
Categories: Labor News

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

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