Thursday, January 26, 2012

ILWU International Clamps Lid on Longview

Local 21 and supporters blocking train tracks
The ILWU International has clearly taken complete control of the Longview negotiations. They muzzled the Longview longshore local (Local 21) more than two weeks ago, drawing a line in the sand between the ILWU and the Occupy movement. Dribs and drabs about the negotiations leak out of Longview, but mainly the ILWU International has been able to clamp a lid on (it's not even clear how much the Longview rank and file are being told about what's been agreed to, what's in the works, etc.)

On January 6, as I believe has been reported to this list, the ILWU local presidents from Seattle, Portland, Vancouver (Washington state), and (I think) Tacoma, together with about a dozen of their supporters, disrupted an Occupy Seattle meeting where several ILWU supporters of the planned Occupy convergence on Longview were speaking. Within a few days, the Seattle ILWU Local 19 passed a resolution ordering Occupy off the waterfront and claiming that Occupy initiated violence against them. Let's be clear: These local presidents are closely tied to the ILWU International, and this was all premeditated. They deliberately disrupted this meeting to provoke a confrontation, with the intention of drawing the line in the sand between them and the Occupy movement.

Years back, the ILWU had fish-bowl negotiations: any ILWU member could attend and observe. Now it's the opposite. The ILWU International has managed to retain a reputation as a militant, combative, independent force. They're not. If there's even a partial victory in Longview, the International will try to take credit for it, but they will deserve none. It will be thanks to the militancy of the rank and file, the courage of Local 21, and the demonstrated ability to organize mass militant port shutdowns by their supporters in the Occupy movement.

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