Feed aggregator

Global: Call for an Urgent Justice Mechanism for Repatriated Migrant Workers

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 06/02/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Svensson foundation
Categories: Labor News

USA: Trumka on attack on AFL-CIO building - and Justice for George Floyd

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 06/01/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: AFL-CIO
Categories: Labor News

Hong Kong: Standing with our sisters and brothers in Hong Kong

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 06/01/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IUF
Categories: Labor News

Ukraine: Proposed anti-union law threatens Ukrainian union movement

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 05/29/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL
Categories: Labor News

Cambodia: Union win! Sister Soy Sros release from prison in Cambodia after LabourStart campaign

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 05/29/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL
Categories: Labor News

Cambodia: Cambodian unionist released from jail

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 05/29/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL
Categories: Labor News

Letter from President Adams to Minnesota Governor Walz on the murder of George Floyd

ILWU - Fri, 05/29/2020 - 13:01

May 29, 2020
Governor Tim Walz
Office of the Governor
130 State Capitol
75 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155

Governor Walz,

On behalf of the membership of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), I am writing to demand that the Minneapolis Police Officers who brutally arrested and killed George Floyd be charged and tried for his murder.

With a heavy heart, the whole world watched as George Floyd begged for his life. Mr. Floyd was killed at the hands of an officer with a dozen complaints against him as the other officers sat and watched. Tragedy has turned into rage. The officers must be arrested and held accountable for their actions.

We demand justice. We demand justice for George Floyd and his family. We demand justice for all persons of color that are subjected to police brutality on a daily basis. We demand justice for every person of color who lives in fear of losing his or her life at the hands of brutal, racist, oppressive, and intolerant police officers who believe they are above the law. We demand justice for those who are persecuted and oppressed based on the color of their skin.

We the ILWU are a union that has a rich history of fighting for racial and social justice. We cannot sit back and watch the same scene unfold time and again. We will not sit back and not fight for change.

Now is the time for you to act and bring justice for George Floyd.

Murder is murder.


William E. Adams
International President

WEA/akj cwa 39521

cc: Keith Ellison, Attorney General, State of Minnesota
Jacob Frey, Mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota
Medaria Arradondo, Chief of Minneapolis Police Department

PDF of the letter is available here 


Categories: Unions

Global: Women workers in the front lines

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 05/22/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL
Categories: Labor News

Belarus: International union campaign in support of BITU activist

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 05/22/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: BITU
Categories: Labor News

Australia: Poll shows less than 10% of workers have basic COVID protections at work

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 05/20/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ACTU
Categories: Labor News

Global: Global Unions Statement: LGBTI rights are a union issue

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 05/17/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Cambodia: Government should immediately release union leader

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 05/16/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL
Categories: Labor News

Global: BWI launches COVID-19 Solidarity Initiative

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 05/15/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: BWI
Categories: Labor News

Solidarity helps seafarers on cruise ships

ILWU - Thu, 05/14/2020 - 15:13

Speaking out: Local 10 President Trent Willis (center) and Local 34 President Keith Shanklin (left) rallied with members and community leaders on March 20 at the Port of Oakland. The group called on employer SSA to sanitize equipment and facilities, including the terminal where the Grand Princess had docked before heading to Hunters Point in San Francisco. Other speakers included Bishop Bob Jackson of the Acts Full Gospel Church in West Oakland and Local 10 Business Agent John Hughes. Locals 75 and 91 also supported the call for protecting workers and the community from COVID-19. “It is imperative for us as workers, as well as the public, that the equipment we work with every day, be sanitized to prevent the spread of Coronavirus,” said Shanklin, who noted that other employers at the Port had complied with Safety Code requirements – except SSA.

The cruise ship industry gained notoriety early this year after several Princess vessels became high-profile hotspots for COVID-19 outbreaks, spreading the virus to hundreds of passengers. The cruise industry operates 272 vessels worldwide that host 300 million customers a year. While companies initially responded to the outbreaks with an eye toward protecting their public image and profits, treatment of crewmembers before and after the virus struck seemed to be a lower priority.

The cruise industry depends on massive numbers of low-wage workers to care for guests and operate the giant vessels. Typical crew sizes range from 25% to 50% of the total guests, with ratios of one crew member for every three customers being common.

Longstanding abuses

Crewmembers on cruise and cargo vessels have long struggled against low pay, abusive management and dangerous working conditions. Vessel owners perpetuate this abuse by exploiting a loophole in maritime law, allowing ships to register in countries that provide little or no enforcement of labor, environmental and tax laws.

Most large vessels, whether carrying passengers or cargo, now fly a “flag of convenience” which allows them to carry passengers from wealthy nations while bypassing stronger labor, environmental and tax laws.

COVID-19 flourishes under FOCs

Flying a flag of convenience (FOC) has made responding to the COVID-19 outbreaks more difficult for passengers and crewmembers. When the virus outbreaks occurred, vessels were far from the countries where they were registered, and those countries had neither the funding or infrastructure to offer any meaningful medical, public health and scientific assistance. That left responsibility to states, nations and nongovernmental organizations (NGO’s) to respond as best they could while epidemics raged aboard the giant vessels.

The national governments of passengers and crew members were called to help, with some offering sympathy and support, while others turned their backs on both citizens and workers.

Tale of two vessels

The experience of two different Princess vessels illustrates how the FOC system allows seafarers from around the world to be exploited. In February, the Diamond Princess attempted to quarantine at the Port of Yokohama in Japan, following a COVID-19 outbreak. Japanese officials were limited in their ability to intervene because the ship was registered in Bermuda and subject to that nation’s laws, not Japan’s.

COVID-19 strikes second Princess

A few weeks later, a different vessel, the Grand Princess, was sailing in circles off Northern California. They needed to dock at a nearby port because COVID-19 was spreading among passengers and crewmembers. After high-level consultations with California Governor Gavin Newsom and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, the Grand Princess was allowed to dock in Oakland on March 9th. Two passengers and 19 crew had tested positive for the virus, confirmed by test kits that were delivered and recovered from the vessel via helicopter while the ship circled off the coast. Once again, efforts to enforce federal and state health and safety standards were limited because the ship was registered in Bermuda. That complication didn’t stop local community groups and longshore leaders from voicing concerns at rallies and sharing those concerns with reporters.

Protecting workers & community

Local 10 President Trent Willis joined with Local 34 President Keith Shanklin, Local 75 Secretary Ryan Murphy and Local 91 President Billy Keypoo to express concern for the safety of seafarers – and ensure that refuse offloaded from the Grand Princess was properly handled to protect longshore workers and the community from COVID-19-contamination. The team of union leaders began coordinating their efforts before the cruise ship arrived, using their Joint Port Labor Relations Committee as a forum to raise concerns with employers. Local officers sought and received support from the ILWU Coast Committee and International Officers, including President Willie Adams.

“It wasn’t easy, we had to make them do everything,” said Trent Willis, “and that includes making them follow the grievance procedures,” he added.

ITF Inspectors involved

As events were unfolding in Northern California, longtime ILWU member Sam Levens was completing a training in London, England, as the Bay Area’s new International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Inspector. West Coast ITF Coordinator Jeff Engels from Seattle temporarily filled-in during the brief absence, coordinating events on the ground in Oakland until Levens returned. Engles kept in touch with local activists, the union in Italy (FITCISL) that represented workers on the Grand Princess, U.S. Coast Guard officials and Princess Cruise Lines representatives.

He also consulted with ITF leaders in London and with the ILWU International Officers. Levens returned and quickly hit the ground running as the area’s newly-trained ITF Inspector.

Advocating for work

Levens worked hard to advocate for crewmembers under trying circumstances – made more difficult because the vessel is registered in Bermuda under a flag of convenience. No representative from Bermuda helped with the lengthy and sometimes difficult negotiations needed to protect the health and safety of crewmembers, longshore and transportation workers, passengers and residents of Oakland. Another complication involved crewmembers’ desire to return to their homes in China, the Philippines and other nations – but some countries were reluctant to repatriate their own citizens because they had been exposed to COVID-19 while working on cruise ships.

President Willie Adams used his experience and connections as a longtime San Francisco Port Commissioner to assist Levens and Engels in their efforts to protect workers and the community.

Cruise ship flotilla

On April 8, the Grand Princess left the Bay Area and sailed for Southern California where she anchored with roughly a dozen other cruise ships, seeking to enter the Port of Los Angeles on April 23. Meanwhile, her sister vessel, the Royal Princess, sailed from Southern California on April 18, filled with seafarers bound for the Philippines, then Indonesia and India – bringing workers home who were unable to secure passage on a charter flight. Princess officials have told Bay Area longshore leaders that they have now sanitized the Princess Grand and intend to shuttle her between LA and Oakland every 7-10 days, using a skeleton crew to keep the engines and systems operational.

Passengers gone, problems persist

Cruise ships around the world are in the final stages of unloading all their remaining passengers, a process that should be finished by the end of April. Then comes the work to assure seafarers will not languish before being repatriated to their homes. Time is running out for some seafarers with personal contracts that expire soon.

Non-essential crewmembers are only entitled to room and board – without pay – until they can get home. Cruise Lines are also imposing industry-wide pay cuts for crewmembers who remain on duty, beginning in May. Companies are screaming poverty after decades of healthy profits, made easier by exploiting crewmembers and avoiding taxes – thanks to their flags of convenience.

Seeking taxpayer subsidies

Registering with foreign flags to dodge labor laws and avoid paying taxes hasn’t stopped the world’s largest cruise line from seeking a massive bailout from U.S. taxpayers. Carnival, the massive parent company for Princess Lines, Holland America, Cunard, Seaborn, Costa and other lines, is seeking a public bailout for their foreign-flagged fleet. Jeff Engels predicts that we should “expect to hear lobbyists and their friends in Congress crying about the need to ‘protect jobs’ for a company that spent decades refusing to pay living wages, sign decent contracts or pay their fair share of taxes.”

“The industry’s effort has failed so far,” says Engels, “but we’ll need to be vigilant to see that they don’t cut a deal with the current administration.”

More than cruise ships

Problems for seafarers aren’t confined to cruise ships. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic depression have hammered the cargo industry – causing some crew to be stranded and abandoned on vessels around the world. Many companies have instituted temporary freezes on crew changes or limited them to emergencies.

The ITF and its maritime affiliates – including the ILWU – are pressing the International Maritime Organization and other bodies to see that seafarers and transport workers are treated fairly during the COVID-19 crisis – and in the future when it eases.

Fund to help workers

Seafarers were in a precarious situation long before the COVID-19 crisis struck early this year. Many workers are now stranded on ships at sea, and others are afraid to return home for fear of losing their jobs in the future.

To help, the ITF has set-up a $3 million emergency fund to assist seafarers abandoned, stranded or otherwise affected by this pandemic. Funds can be accessed through the ITF Inspectors or ITF affiliated unions. Repatriating crewmembers

As The Dispatcher was going to press, industry reports noted that some cruise ships, including a Princess vessel from the Port of Los Angeles, were being used to repatriate crewmembers to the Philippines and other ports in the Pacific.

Thanks to Jeff Engels, West Coast USA ITF Coordinator, and Bay Area Inspector Sam Levens for their contributions to this report.


Categories: Unions

President’s message

ILWU - Thu, 05/14/2020 - 11:18

The year 2020 will be remembered as the Great Lockdown. The lengthy interruption of our lives will continue and so will the economic trauma. Consumer confidence may fail to improve and an economic reset will be essential for us to move forward. We have been waiting for a surge in shipping — work that has not happened and may not happen this year. Trade restrictions have not lifted.

Tourism is down. Ridership on ferries is down. Our members have been laid off and some of our members are being sent back to the hall. Work is down across the board and the unknown looms large. In the 40 years I have been a member of this great union, I have never seen a time when our members cannot have union meetings in person until now. All of this is due to a pandemic over which we have no control.

Our members are facing constant demands including new policies over the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitation protocols on the job. We continue the never-ending fight with employers to secure PPE, to put safety first, and to provide COVID-19-related sick leave for all. These safety measures should be a human right in order to maintain dignity on the job and in the hall.

We should not have to struggle for these basic protections; we should not have to fight, for example, for two weeks of paid sick leave when a longshore worker gets sick with COVID-19 while working to keep the ports open and supplies moving during a global pandemic. Similarly, testing should be available for all. In the weeks and months ahead, the ILWU officers, local officers, and the membership will need to have painful conversations about the kind of sacrifices required by all of us in order to protect our people, our union, and our communities.

One thing that we won’t need to debate is the heart of the ILWU, the resolve of our members, and the need for us to step into the void and demand more for workers. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an overwhelming impact on millions of people across the globe.

The United States has been especially hard hit as the country with the highest number of cases to date. People have fallen ill in staggering numbers and the number of people losing their lives continues to grow. State and local government officials along the West Coast have taken this seriously from the beginning.

As a result, we have been fortunate that the rate of infection is low in comparison to other areas. However, as the pandemic persists, we continue to see the devastating consequences in our families and communities.

In addition to the ongoing public health crisis, we have a jobs crisis with unemployment at an all-time high since the Great Depression. To date, we have suffered significant layoffs in Local 5, Local 6, Local 142, the IBU, and the Alaska Longshore Division. For the longshore locals, although work at the grain elevators is steady, shipping has slowed and many B men are not seeing work opportunities. In the smaller ports, work has all but dried up.

In spite of the tragedy from the COVID-19 pandemic, there are glimmers of hope in the midst of all the turmoil. A renewed sense of community in our neighborhoods as we shelter in place together. Recognition and gratitude to the frontline workers who are doing their job to keep us safe. Acts of kindness to those that are in need. People helping people.

Bay Area ILWU members and community allies have been donating resources to the laid-off workers from Tartine, who just voted to join Local 6. Young workers in Local 23 have been reaching out to pensioners to assist with things like grocery shopping and dropping off household items. Members from across the union are reaching out to assist others in ways large and small.

Our strength comes from our membership and local leadership and we cannot thank you enough for your dedication. Please let us know whatever actions our members and locals are taking to help out during this terrible pandemic. We all need to be engaged because our families and communities are at risk. Solidarity is important now and always, and we will continue to search for opportunities where we can play a positive role. I want to give a special thank you to International Vice President Bobby Olvera Jr., International Secretary-Treasurer Ed Ferris, Coast Committeemen

Cam Williams and Fran Ponce De Leon, and all the hard-working staff at the International and the Coast Longshore Division. Without them, this union would not continue to function and for that, we owe them all a debt of gratitude.

Moving forward, we must continue to maintain a first-class temperament as we face the new norm. May we always remember the 4th guiding principle of the ILWU and let it guide us during this season of life: “To help any worker in distress” must be a daily guide in the life of every trade union and its individual members.

An injury to one is an injury to all.

Categories: Unions

Belarus: Four journalists sent to prison just for doing their job

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 05/13/2020 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: EFJ
Categories: Labor News

ILWU honors International Vice President (Hawaii) Wesley Furtado

ILWU - Wed, 05/13/2020 - 14:33

ILWU International Vice President (Hawaii) Wesley Furtado passed away on March 15, 2020 at the age of 64. Wes rose from humble beginnings as a second-generation longshore worker in a working-class family who became a widely respected leader within the ILWU and the labor movement for his fierce commitment to unions, devotion to social justice and considerable organizing and negotiating skills.

ILWU International President Willie Adams recalled his longtime relationship with Furtado. “Wes was a labor warrior, and I had a great amount of respect for him and how he worked. He was mentored by Bobo Lapena and Tommy Trask—two powerful ILWU leaders with very different styles but who both got results,” Adams said. “Wes took the best of both their styles and created his own style. Like them, Wes was old school—he understood the importance of politics and he had a personality that put people at ease. Wes could get along in any situation and relate to every person he met. This gained him respect from the employers, ILWU members, and union brothers and sisters all over the world. Wes was a true internationalist.”

Early years

Wes was born on September 4, 1955 in Honolulu, Hawaii. He attended school in Kailua when it was still a small town just 12 miles from Honolulu, but a world apart because of its location on the other “windward” side of Oahu. During high school, he held a part-time job, stocking shelves in a local supermarket in the morning, then returned after school to bag groceries.

Plans to enter the trades

After graduating, Wes got a job at an air conditioning and refrigeration supply warehouse where he met workers in the trade and applied to an apprenticeship program run by the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union.

While waiting for his application to be approved, Wes’ father encouraged him to apply for work on the docks. He took his father’s advice and started working on the waterfront in 1978 at the age of 22.

Beginning on the waterfront

As his seniority and experience on the waterfront grew, Wes’ abilities were increasingly recognized by his peers. Co-workers elected him to serve as their Shop Steward, then Longshore Unit officer, and eventually a member of the Longshore Negotiating Committee.

Becoming an organizer

It was through helping non-union workers to organize that Wes began to distinguish himself. He started as a rank-and-file organizer in 1986. His first major assignment involved helping workers at a Kauai hotel to organize for better pay and working conditions.

That experience helped Wes find his calling in life, as he explained during an interview with ILWU Historian Harvey Schwartz in 2014.

“I found a passion to help people to stand up as equals to the employers,” Wes said, “To ask for what they deserve for the work they perform. That’s what drives me. When we organize a new house and negotiate over the table and look at the employer, we can tell them what we think we deserve. We deal as equals.”

International Representative

Local 142 President Donna Domingo knew Wes well because they both grew up together in Kailua. “I worked for Wesley’s mom when I was in high school and our family lived just up the street from them,” she recalls. They lost touch after graduating, then met fifteen years later in a surprising way.

In August 1989 Wes was appointed to serve as an International Representative by ILWU International President Jimmy Herman. In that new position, Wes kept on organizing, negotiated numerous difficult first contracts and oversaw challenging renewals. It’s also how Domingo met him again.

“I saw this guy who looked familiar at one of the big hotels on Maui where the ILWU was organizing,” said Domingo, “and it turned out to be Wesley, so we both ended up in the union movement together.”

“Even back then, I could see that Wesley had courage and the patience to understand organizing was a longterm commitment. He knew how to bring people together and he understood politics, so he used those skills to negotiate and finesse contracts that improved conditions for workers,” said Domingo.

Challenging & winning the VP race

In the year 2000, Wes decided to run against International Vice President (Hawaii) Leonard Hoshijo. Wes narrowly lost by 291 votes out of 11,000 cast. A controversy ensued with Wes challenging the results. His protest was rejected by the union’s International Election Procedures Committee, but upheld by the International Executive Board, which ordered a new election. Wes won the re-run by 850 votes – making him the new International Vice President for Hawaii.

ILWU President Emeritus Robert “Big Bob” McEllrath recalled his many years of friendship, comradery, and hard work with Wesley during his time as International Vice President (Hawaii). “The first time I remember meeting Wesley, he was an International Rep at one of the longshore caucuses in the 1990s. In 2000, Wesley and I both ran and were elected to the position of Vice President. At the time, (ILWU President Emeritus Jim Spinosa) Spinner would send me out to travel and I told him, ‘I’m taking Wesley with me.’ That’s when we became not just co-workers but really good friends. We got to trust and understand the way each other worked.” McEllrath continued, “When I first became International President, I remember having a meeting with the Titled Officers to go over roles and responsibilities. Wes was by far the best organizer I have ever seen. For me to tell him how to do his job would be crazy. He knew everything better than anyone out there.” Big Bob concluded, “With Wes’ passing, the ILWU lost a great labor leader. And for me, I lost a great friend.”

Legacy of a leader

Throughout the more than thirty years that he held office, first as an International Representative and then as International Vice President, Wes’ biggest contribution was furthering the ILWU’s organizing program in Hawaii, as the state’s economy continued shifting from agricultural to service work.

Longtime ILWU Organizer Tracy Takano recalls working with Wesley for over 24 years, spending their first five together as organizers for Local 142.

“When he was elected International Vice President, Wesley’s duties greatly expanded,” explained Takano. “He played a key role in building solidarity with unions around the world and representing ILWU members to top government officials and employers. But when we got together, either in Hawaii or over the phone, the conversation usually turned to organizing. Sometimes it was about specific drives, sometimes on strategic organizing. He liked to remind me by saying: ‘I’m an organizer.’”

“Wesley was very proud to be an International Vice President, and he was always clear on what it meant to hold union office. For him, respect didn’t come from the title. Respect had to be earned – and throughout his long union career, Wesley earned widespread respect for himself and the ILWU.”

It’s about the union

Wesley met his wife Marla 32 years ago through the ILWU: “It was funny because I used to see him (Wesley) on the Big Island working. Wesley knew my brother because they would rope (do rodeo) together so he was a familiar face. I was working at an ILWU hotel on the Kohala Coast while going to school part-time and Wes was organizing on the Big Island.” Marla said. “I was drawn to his charisma, his intelligence, and his passion for the things he loves, including the union. We had the same kind of humanitarian heart.”

Marla recalled his commitment to the ILWU. “The union was more than a position or a title for him. It was his life. He loved the union and what it stood for and saw his fellow ILWU members as part of his family. His job was everything to him and he sacrificed a lot for other people. He knew how important it was to never forget where we came from because we are here to help the people not to help ourselves. Wesley always said it’s not about the individual leader, it’s about the union and how you can make it better and stronger.”

Recent accomplishment

One of Wes’ last major accomplishments was the creation of Local 100 which represents newly-organized longshore supervisors. In addition to working with Hawaii’s powerhouse, Local 142, he also assisted the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific, Hawaii Region, with their organizing efforts.

Condolences from afar

After Wes’ passing in March, letters of condolence arrived to the ILWU from dockworker unions all over the globe. One heartfelt message came from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) President Paddy Crumlin.

“Wesley’s union journey from the docks of Honolulu was as long as it was meaningful. It was founded on the hard rock of his belief in social and economic justice for all workers, and blessed with a gentle but pervasive charisma.

His achievements and actions bettered the lives of all he touched and were as steady as the Kona winds of his home,” Crumlin wrote. “The words and workings of Wes’ life were not solely dedicated to his fellow longshore and dock workers. He was a formidable and relentless activist for peace, an advocate for sovereign rights and true political independence and accountability, and of course, a warrior for justice, equality and universal access to all material benefits regardless of race, gender, age or religious denomination.”

ILWU Canada’s Local 502 lowered their flags to half-mast at the Vancouver union hall to honor Brother Wes’ memory.

A legacy remembered

ILWU International Vice President (Mainland) Bobby Olvera Jr., remembered Wes as a mentor and a selfless union leader. “Brother Wes was instrumental in mentoring me over the past 10 years,” he said. “Wes was an example of rank-and-file leadership, he demonstrated selfless commitment to the membership of the ILWU. He was a progressive advocate for workers’ rights around the world and his is a legacy that will live on forever.”

“The ILWU and the entire International trade union movement has lost an icon with the passing of Brother Wesley Furtado,” said ILWU International Secretary-Treasurer Ed Ferris.

“I will always fondly remember Brother Wes’ kind and gentle nature, his wonderful sense of humor, and his strong dedication and commitment to his family and his union.

“My sincerest condolences and prayers go out to his entire family during his difficult time. May our good Brother Wes always rest in peace.”

Coast Committeeman Cameron Williams said, “Wesley Furtado is a true labor icon who dedicated his life’s work for the betterment of the ILWU family. I will greatly miss the subtle conversations and charisma Brother Furtado expressed as he entered a room. May his legacy live on through the Furtado family, and never forget the precious time we all enjoyed in the presence of our dear friend.”

Coast Committeeman Frank Ponce De Leon said, “I would like to express my heartfelt sympathies and condolences on the passing of Wesley to his family, Marla, Levana and Kyan, and to his brothers, sisters and friends in the State of Hawaii. My thoughts and prayers are with you all during these difficult days. Wesley’s passing will not only leave a void in our hearts but also as a leader in the ILWU as well. Wesley may be gone from our sights but never from our individual memories. May Wesley’s journey on the sands of theshore find him much peace and comfort. Aloha Brother Wes!”

Danny Miranda, President of Local 94, recalled the friendship he and Wes cultivated through the years and his admiration for Wes’ negotiating style.

“What made Wes so special as a leader was his passion for his work, his love for the Hawaiian culture and his love for the Hawaiian people. He treated the union like family. Wes wanted a better way of life for people, and he wanted them to feel good about their work, so he always stressed working conditions when negotiating. Wes always told me that in negotiations, you have to be a listener first and speak last. He always stayed calm and people trusted him. That’s what made him so effective.” ILWU Hawaii Longshore member Dustin Dawson recounted his many years working with and learning from Furtado. “Wes always gave everyone a chance to learn and teach what he knew. There are a lot of things that Wes doesn’t get credit for. He had the ear of a lot of powerful and influential people.

Whether they agreed with him or not, believed in the union or not, were Democrat or Republican, employer or worker—he had their ear. This was not because of his position but because of the person he was. He was always willing to sit down, listen, and talk story. Wes was always there for the members, not himself. We will never forget all the hard work Wes put into the ILWU. Because Wes trained and passed on his knowledge, his legacy will never die.”

James Spinosa, who served as ILWU International President from 2000-2006, remembered Wes’ work ethic and reliability. “He was a delightful guy to be around. Anytime I asked him for something, he was always there for me,” Spinosa said. “This is a great loss for the ILWU. He was someone who was always working to move the union forward.”

Eusebio “Bobo” Lapenia Jr., who was elected President of Local 142 in 1991 until 2003, first met Wes when while Wes was serving as a rank-and-file organizer in the 1980’s.

“Wesley was a very good organizer who was instrumental in organizing several major hotels on the Big Island,” Lapenia said. “He was a terrific leader and a testament to his generation. Hopefully he inspired a new generation of longshoremen to become leaders.”

ILWU President Willie Adams concluded with his favorite words of wisdom from Wesley: “Wes always told me, ‘Discussions are always better than arguments. An argument is to find out who is right. A discussion is to find out what is right.’ Wesley “The Hurricane” Furatado will always be remembered as the spirit of Hawaii and a labor leader for all seasons.”

Wes is survived by his wife Marla, his daughter Levana Solidum, his son Kyan Alaka’i Furtado, and three grandchildren.

Categories: Unions


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