The U.S. has chided governments for unleashing the armed forces against their own citizens…


by Ken O’ Keefe

Editing : Tim King / Salem-News

(LONDON / OAKLAND) – On Monday, January 23, Occupy Oakland and labor organizations have called a demonstration to protest the use of armed Coast Guard cutters and helicopters to escort a ship into the port of Longview, Washington to load grain from the EGT terminal which is being picketed by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).

Courtesy: Marine Insurance Zone.

EGT, a giant grain consortium which has built a new $200 million dollar terminal, is violating the port’s contract which provides for ILWU workers to perform waterfront labor. (ILWU has had this jurisdiction for more than 70 years.)

In addition, with protests called by the Cowlitz County, Washington AFL-CIO, local and state police are expected to be out in force.

There have been 220 arrests of union supporters in Longview and fines of over $300,000 for blocking trains and trespassing on EGT port property.

This is a struggle for the survival of ILWU in Longview, and with it, to maintain the conditions and standards the union has negotiated over decades.

A 9 January resolution by the San Francisco Labor Council condemned, in the strongest terms, this first known use of the US military to intervene in a labor dispute on the side of management in 40 years, since President Nixon called out the U.S. Army and National Guard in an attempt to break the 1971 postal strike.

The Obama Administration’s planned action is strongly reminiscent of Reagan’s wholesale firing of PATCO workers, using 1248 military air traffic controllers to replace the union strikers.

The use of the military against longshore workers comes when the U.S. has chided governments around the world for unleashing the armed forces against their own citizens.

In the SF Bay Area, ILWU Local 10, longshore union, and the SF Labor Council as well as Occupy Oakland are organizing a caravan to Longview to meet the ship upon arrival, possibly this month.

Occupy movements in Portland and Seattle are also mobilizing supporters to go to Longview.

The ILWU has a record of militant dock actions over contract issues and social protests including South African apartheid and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Anthony Leviege, a longshoreman and an organizer of the demonstration called the Longview union struggle a watershed struggle for organized labor. No more PATCO‘s! .