Tuesday, October 28, 2014

ILWU Waste Management strike. Teamster drivers still crossing lines.

These documents are being handed out to Teamster Drivers by ILWU members
by Richard Mellor
 Afscme Local 444, retired

I only have a minute or two so this will be fairly short (for me).  I just returned from the ILWU picket line at the Waste Management recycle center in San Leandro.

The same situation exists in that drivers, members of the Teamsters Local 70, are still crossing the local 6 picket lines. A Teamster official was on the sidelines to make sure the drivers didn't act on their conscience and support their workmates.  There are also members of another ILWU local crossing the lines. 

Security are there to assist the scabs crossing, so we have a situation where union officials and company thugs are waving scabs across picket lines.  And we are told time and time against that it is the rank and file that need educating, the rank and file fail to understand what solidarity is all about.

The truck drivers don't like crossing it is easy to see that in their faces. They honk their horns in support but, as I wrote before, that doesn't pay the rent.  Workers cannot stay out on strike forever.

As a truck slowed the strikers were handing them the leaflet I have included here.  I approached one driver who had his window open and asked him how he felt about crossing the lines.  He replied that "I don't like it but our leadership says we have to."   He drove through and I turned and asked the striker for a copy of the leaflet.  The Teamster official then came scurrying over and told me to "Stop harassing my drivers, if you want to harass anyone harass me."

I answered him as I answer the bosses when they falsely accuse workers of this, that I wasn't harassing the driver.  But it's interesting how protective the labor hierarchy can be of their members when there is a danger they might not follow their lead.

The official had explained to me earlier why they had to cross the line, I wrote about this yesterday, and I explained that because there was some sort of written organizational obstacle preventing solidarity and united action between workers against the boss, doesn't mean we don't do it.  No matter which section of the trade union leadership is to blame for this disastrous situation, the main point is the picket line should be honored.  Beyond that, a powerful united strike could not only make huge gains for all workers at this corporation and beyond, it should also raise the issue of taking such an important social service out of the hands of speculators, investors and other wasters.  As I pointed out yesterday:

“U.S. taxpayer dollars contribute to making Steiner ‘America's Highest Paid Sanitation Worker.’ According to PR Watch “Steiner made an eye-popping $45,581,052 in compensation from 2006 to 2012. Waste Management's top executives combined made $119,201,381 from 2006 to 2012.

The union leadership hiding behind the bureaucratic red tape that restrains militant and united action from the rank and file, forces workers to scab on each other and causes untold hardship for workers, in this case, low paid and mostly immigrant workers.  I can only imagine the animosity and division that will be in the air when everyone is back at work. 

It is equally frustrating to see two company security waving in scabs with no attempt at all by the striking union to stop them.  It is the most frustrating thing to walk picket lines like this that are really just 24 hour protests. Frustration at some point will turn to demoralization, anger and a disgust at the Union movement.  The bosses, as they usually due will terrorize the workers by sending out notices that their health benefits will be eliminated in time, for us in our strike it was one month.

The Teamster rank and file  must organize and push their officials to get out from behind bureaucratic organizational barriers and help their brothers and sisters on the lines.  The rank and file is not bound by some holy edict to honor a leadership whose policies are detrimental to rank and file workers and the working class as a whole and should self organize to do what is right if their leaders refuse to do so.

Class conscious members of the communities of Oakland, San Leandro and the surrounding area should join these lines, these are some of the lowest paid and most exploited among us. and and all workers should take some time to swell the ranks. If you have a truck, put some waste in it, drive down there, honor the line and slowly turn round. At very least it will improve morale but in the last analysis if we want to win we must shut down production and we must raise our expectations, we must demand what we need now what is acceptable to labor officials, and their friends in the Democratic Party. I have written this fairy quickly so I apologize if it not the most detailed report.

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