This doesn’t seem very productive to me:
Police in several U.S. cities Monday confronted Occupy protests aimed and shutting down port facilities.
Arrests were made, while ports reported only minor hindrances.
Police in Houston arrested 20 protesters after dozens of police on foot and on horseback confronted a somewhat larger group of Occupy protesters, who blocked an interstate on-ramp, authorities said.
Small groups of up to six protesters lay down on the pavement and interlocked arms and legs, while a larger group stood near them yelling protest slogans. Officers set up barricades to cordon off protesters in an attempt to free the ramp for traffic. The majority of the protesters could be seen moving behind the barricades, with a few exceptions, including those who had lain down.
What is the point of this? Now you’re just making life difficult for working stiffs like dock workers and the other folks who work there. This kind of thing seems sure to backfire and sour the public’s mood on the #OWS movement.
This might change your mind a little bit. Ports really are the centerpiece of grifter capitalism these days. They’re often privately owned, they exist to move cheap shit made by outsourced jobs to stores with shit jobs, and their logistical nightmares are used to fuck over truckers who are treated like independent contractors and are expected to volunteer their time for shipping companies while sitting in line for a load. Shut those fuckers down!
The OWS bunch have a clear message, contrary to what the media like to pretend, but their strategy and tactics have been pretty amateurish so far. I agree, this is counter-productive, and that’s exactly what you would expect from a movement that haven’t really organized and thought things through yet.
There are definitely some advantages to being so nebulous and decentralized, but this is one of the major downsides.
EDIT: …On the other hand, Loanoak raises some issues I don’t generally know much about.
If the public were still thinking about them…
That’s the whole point of protests. To bring attention to what they are protesting. I thought we had been through this already. Remember the discussion about the bridge closure in New York?
And besides, what Loneoak said.
I don’t really see the point of this, but I know a lot of “working stiffs” who were greatly inconvenienced by the “day of action” or whatever it was called in Lower Manhattan. They were pretty annoyed by all the blocked traffic and jammed bridges and so on, but 24 hours later it was all forgotten. Sympathy with the OWS agenda depends a lot more on one’s personal circumstances than on whether some smelly hippie got in your way once upon a time.
Seems a bunch of people who have in the past shown their genetic predilection to hippy-punching are jumping all over this. (I’m not just trying to be a dick, John, I think you’ve mostly gotten over the impulse, and have apologized and/or explained a few times.) The only thing I have to say is: Where were these objections when this happened in November – – with the support of the unions? Because I do not remember seeing them at all.
@Loneoak: How’d your wild birthing experience go?? Haven’t had a chance to ask since the big wind trapped you.
Davis X. Machina
The West Coast waterfront unions are about the left-est of the unions out there, going back to Harry Bridges. What was their take on this action?
Except that, AFAIK, the Oakland port (which is sort of the epicenter for this) is not the case–there’s community and worker input into the running of the port, it’s in a generally progressive area, etc.
While I don’t think the tactics are necessarily out of line, I’ve felt it’s incredibly unfortunate that they’re applied in Oakland/the bay area/etc where governance is actually reasonable and trying to address working peoples’ concerns, rather than in Mitch McConnell’s home state, for example.
This really comes into sharp relief when you see the animosity directed against the mayor of Oakland Jean Quan, who a couple years ago would’ve been one of the protesters herself. It’s sort of led to the situation where protesters up the anti against someone who fundamentally agrees with them, leading to a no-win scenario which makes her look bad and actually fuels the rise of substantially less progressive opponents who promise to “restore law and order”.
EDIT: Make that a YEAR ago for Jean Quan (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/07/14/BAQ41EDPHS.DTL)
The protesters are trying things. I think the goal was to simulate a strike before convincing the port workers themselves to strike – a mistake, I think. But they’re trying things. If you expected every OWS protest to be flawless and immaculate, well…
Those are actually answerable questions. The point is the point of any protest – to make the news, to disrupt normal activity… You think the protests in Manhattan, Oakland, LA, didn’t bother some “working stiffs”?
And no, they’re not “just” doing anything. There’s more going on than what one person chooses to point to.
POLICE are part of governance, and that makes your statement laughable.
yeah, i’m sure those working stiffs are real upset
jesus fuckballs, cole, you totally Goldberged this one. at least look up some damn coverage yourself. all i did was google “west coast port shutdown union”
@Davis X. Machina:
This Labor Notes article captures a lot of the nuances in labor’s take on today’s action. Short version: a mixed reaction. It’s not completely clear with whom in the ILWU that OWS consulted. Plus there’s legal issues as well; the leadership can’t say that it is endorsing a strike when a CBA is still in effect.
THAT. Far too many in the forefront of the OWS movement have completely lost sight of the fact that focusing on Wall Street and the 1% vs the 99% is their all-important focus, NOT ‘OCCUPY’, which is a mere publicity tactic toward that end which should be employed only to the extent it’s actually constructive toward their primary objective. Instead, it’s become an obsessive end in itself.
IDIOCY in pursuit of a worthy cause will undermine that cause, not further it.
What good is shutting down a port if you piss off and alienate a huge percentage of the people who might otherwise be inclined to support you? WHAT IN THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE PROVING? Not what you think, imbeciles.
And my comment is being made by someone who is strongly sympathetic to your cause, not an enemy to it.
Riddle me this John, when was the last time you even mentioned in passing that Obama signed 3 free trade deals. No no I get it, it is about abortion and torture and whatever…
Sometimes you have to take a stand.
This is what that looks like, sorry to delay your cheap Chinese crap.
An Occupy Boston spokesperson said that they need to be smarter and more creative with their tactics, and they’re going to spend the winter strategizing. They’ve been so effective at putting the 99% concept into the body politic, I don’t think they need to occupy to promote that particular message. They need to occupy the voting booth next, to start pulling the center leftward.
@ShadeTail: [addressee edited]
Do you have experience with them, or with protesting in general?
Maybe it’s because I’m in a pissy mood, but I’m not optimistic. I mean, look what’s going on in Washington right now. The President and the Dems are trying to keep taxes low for the 99% hurting right now, and the GOP is saying “no” in order to prevent taxes on the 1% from going up. This issue would seem right up OWS’s alley, but if OWS have an opinion on this, I haven’t heard it?
I think it needs to be turned around completely. Why are the unions fucking this up? They supported the port shutdowns last time – and now expect this turnabout to just be swallowed? Don’t quite get that.
And do you know who else could be called “union working stiffs”? Cops. Should OWS stop because of them?
Jesus, John, you ever hear of outsourcing? Did you know the ports are where all that cheap shit from China enters our country, subsidized by the taxpayers who paid for the port facilities?
Thank you Linnaeus. Anyone who doesn’t read your comment and then starts speculating has proved themselves a fool.
I used to be in a non-port ILWU local, and I can tell you that the ILWU is about the most anti-capitalist, pro-militant union that exists. They shut down the West Coast during the 1999 WTO, again during the Iraq War, and are always front and center during labor and other fights (a GOS commentator said ILWU dudes showed up in Madison *before* some local unions turned out).
Christ, wtf is up with the hostility? I asked a question, you all responded.
@LT: OWS is putting plenty of money in the cops’ pockets and giving them a chance to bang heads and act like general fuckwads in the process.
OWS is a win-win for the cops.
Unions should support this. Every day I hear wingnut KTLA 5 interview Status
Quo asking the question’ ‘how do you feel about not being able to get to work”
FUCK YOU ASSHOLE !
This is in the interests of all, especially Teamsters.
you asked a Jonah-fied question, i.e. “this seems pretty screwy, dont have time to comment further, but can someone else maybe do my research for me? [FARRRRRT]”
do you expect to just shit out your responses to CNN, or Slate, or Sullivan, or fucking Politico, without even doing a cursory bit of background research, and not get an earful about it? arent you complaining about the quality of your commentariat in another thread?
have some goddamn pride in your craft. fuck.
@bin Lurkin’: My analogy was weak., but I was speaking to the “making life difficult” part of John’s comment, not the money.
The point is to make news. Kinda like when Newt says something outrageous and you and your typing monkey make “I’m outraged” posts about it right on cue…exactly like Newt wanted you to.
You won’t understand. You are still living IN the matrix. Take your blue pill and go back to sleep you clueless hack. The joke is on you. The joke was ALWAYS on you.
Great analysis Cole. What does sully think?
It’s all about the tone.
Lay off, pops!
@Baud: I’m not sure either. I realize that it is a diverse group, but there a sense that among many of the OWS participants the mood is along the lines of “voting doesn’t work, so we’re doing this.” I hope that isn’t where the whole thing goes. The people in the Arab Spring were protesting for the right to vote. The people at OWS protests all have that right. I hope they all use it next November.
I may get smacked for this but I really think the Occupy movement should abandon the camping thing and do what the unions do when they go on strike: show up every day and protest for the duration of the workday plus however many hours, and then go home for the night. Show up the next day and do it all over again.
Yeah, what was said upthread. The Longshoremen tepidly supported the last actions, but not this one. And it’s hard to imagine, at least on the West Coast, a place more unionized and run by serious-as-a-fuckin’-heart-attack union leadership than the ports. Those guys can shut off the capitalist spigot, and they sure as shit know it.
(The bullshit the truck drivers have to put up with is, of course, another story. Say, wasn’t there a strong drivers’ union once upon a time?)
I don’t know what OWS was trying to do in Oakland and Seattle today — and worse, I suspect they didn’t really know, either.
Not to mention that they blocked the Amtrak tracks in Bellingham, WA. WTF
I don’t think that’s an unreasonable thing to just bring up.
” I really think the Occupy movement should abandon the camping thing”
It’s about irritating the power. You can’t have Falstaff and have him thin.
They’re just missing the giant puppet heads.
In Oakland, 99% of the union spokespeople disavowed the action. But the workers are somewhat split.
I don’t think the groundwork has been layed for this, and walking home from West Oakland BART pretty much alongside the demonstrators, I asked a couple of locals if they understood why the port was being shut down. Couldn’t explain why. And these are folks who would/should be sympathetic to any movement addressing the current economic crisis head on.
There was an anti-foreclosure action beginning this past week nearby and it’s – IMHO – a no-brainer that most folks can comprehend the rationale and context for anti-foreclosure actions. Also, the action has had some initial success in forestalling the sheriff and his locksmith from taking the foreclosed house back. But the protest-for-protest folks show up to shut down the port. There are some terrible problems at the Oakland port – mostly around the issue of truck drivers who get completely screwed as “independent contractors” – working 80 hour weeks to make $25-30K IN THE BAY AREA. That means they aren’t covered by unemployment insurance if the work stops and all of their own payroll taxes come out of their end of the (paltry) check because they are “self-employed.” Scandalous. Meanwhile the ILWU guys are doing very well. As they all should. But I don’t think the groundwork has been layed for this. I don’t think ordinary Oaklanders get it. It can be explained – the connections of the port to bad actors like Walmart and Goldman Sachs, but it takes a fucking powerpoint demonstration. And the unions are not in the lead. While “independent” truckers are most likely split over the tactic. Which is all it is – a symbolic tactic.
The focus of “occupy” should be on building a grassroots anti-foreclosure movement. That hits right at the heart of the ongoing crisis – as well as its roots. And it could push banks to back off in many cases, while forcing the administration’s hand to use whatever executive powers/Fed/Fannie-Freddie or whatever to put an effective program to help underwater and facing-foreclosure folks keep their homes. But it’s hard – requires real outreach and organizing, and doesn’t have quite the thrill of shutting down…something, whatever.
My two cents…
Shutting things down and not letting business go on is the only tool you have when you are powerless.
Don’t believe me, ask the Senate Republicans.
Shutting things down and not letting business go on is the only tool you have when you are powerless.
Don’t believe me, ask the Senate Republicans.
@opie jeanne: I think this would make SO much more impact than all the futzing around with tents and camping out. If it’s important to “occupy” a space, do as another commenter suggested a couple weeks ago, have people occupy in shifts.
@Benjamin Franklin: You think this irritates the power more than doing it union-style?
I liked the way it was done in Wisconsin, the constant crowds, the parade with tractors, and the sleepover inside the Capitol building for however many nights, and the fact that they cleaned up after themselves. They made their point pretty well I thought, gained both support and attention, and irritated the shit out of the governor.
Comment well taken re: laying groundwork.
A partnership between Occupy and labor is a perfect pivot from the camping.
Organized Labor covers all the issues in the OWS grievance- when workers can bargain as equals with finance, they get health care, safety, environmentalism, better representation about foreign affairs, everything.
This is why the right has made destroying organized labor the supreme goal. Without organized labor, we just have a scattering of different issues and constituencies.
35 – stickler: “it’s hard to imagine, at least on the West Coast, a place more unionized and run by serious-as-a-fuckin’-heart-attack union leadership than the ports”
But not really. The truckers who drive for the big box stores like Walmart, which is a huge piece of the Port action, are totally screwed and non-union. (Edit – didn’t catch the last part of your comment. But reality is that since containerization, the number of longshore workers has dwindled. Not sure what the ratio of truckers to longshore is, but I’d bet that most workers who relate to the port aren’t union anymore. The trucking industry appears to have been broken in the wake of deregulation.
That said, I’m not really even conflicted on this. I think it’s “protest/confrontation for it’s own sake” and most of the participants are focused on organizing demonstrations, not communities or segments of the workforce around more tangible issues. That’s “not sustainable.”
Odie Hugh Manatee
I think this would be the most effective use of resources. Why protest in the middle of the night? The fuckers they are pissed off at are home in bed, sleeping peacefully. The only disruption in their workday is when they have to pass by the protesters.
Instead, focus on getting in their faces when and where possible. Don’t do things that will piss off supporters, go after the fuckers who have been screwing us over. As someone else above, this needs to happen in districts where the problem winger pols are, not in progressive areas unless specifically focused on a local issue that fits the OWS message. Take it to the people who are causing the problem and keep it focused on that. Make them sick and tired of seeing protesters everywhere they go.
Get in the faces of those who are the problem and focus on building popular support, not pissing it off. That is a winning strategy, IMO.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
The Occupiers are trying to show that the middle class has as much of an influence on things as the 1%ers. It’s either this or hope a plague comes along and wipes out half the middle class. I’m partial to the former.
It is, but I am worried that some #OWS people won’t be able to deal with the fact that unions are complicated, divided and imperfect institutions.
It’s unclear, from reading around the interwebs, that the groundwork was established *with* the ILWU. It sounds like there were talks but nothing definitive.
But that’s the question isn’t it? Are they truly powerless? I don’t believe they are. Welded into a strong, organized voting block the OWS movement could probably help quite a bit in making Senate Republicans even fewer in number. I’m not sure that they believe that of themselves, and that is a concern for me.
Like all things in life, this is not a simple black/white issue. I see Cole’s point, and am sympathetic to it. The OWS movement must beware of upsetting its union/working class coalition. Remember, the movement isn’t exactly the most popular in the country, even though the movement’s message (the 99%) does resonate with a majority of Americans.
That being said, some of the port workers themselves support today’s protest. True, they may have lost a day’s pay, but they know it’s in an effort to illustrate how the multi-nationals are exploiting our workers.
Protests aren’t clean. They’re designed to be messy, and push the nasty business of inequality in our faces. Sure, it’s not a sight we like to see, but someone must do it.
Now, what they do after the winter months is key. But, who am I to criticize the success of the movement? For all of its negative media coverage, the message of the 99% getting screwed seems to hit a nerve with the public.
Why is everybody doing X? Can’t someone in comments read everything about it and summarize it for me?
@Odie Hugh Manatee: Yup. Not to mention that it’s getting damned cold outside in most of the country, and it will get colder in just a couple of weeks. I live just outside Seattle now and I can’t imagine camping under these conditions, and it’s still pretty mild compared to the really cold parts of the country. I think it got down into the 20s last night but it’s supposed to be low 30s for the rest of the week.
( Plus, I hate camping. I loved the idea of it but soon discovered that I hate the reality.)
“It sounds like there were talks but nothing definitive.”
There were definitely talks, but that’s not laying groundwork IMHO. I attended a meeting this past week called by a group that is mostly an interfaith initiative that has been working for years on making the port (which oversees a ton of undeveloped land, like the old army base) redeveloped as a “people’s port” with good jobs for locals. And they have had some success. Some longshore guys spoke and I think you could definitely find rank-and-file who would participate, but as you note these are complicted organizations, and I think that you don’t move to shut down the port – which I have to step back and think about the “why” myself – without organizing pretty strong support from the people who work there, even if the official union can’t take the lead. I don’t see this. And I think that the whole notion of “why” needs too many sentences to be explained to a bystander for it to be an action that will build the movement beyond the “usual suspects” or the relatively uninitiated enthusiasts.
(I feel like I’ve become Irving-fucking-Howe back when I thought he was a miserable old fart for not giving us 19-year-olds in SDS major accolades as creators of a brilliant new paradigm of political rebellion. Yeah – I’m old.)
Just want to reiterate that the foreclosure issue is HUGE and will get bigger. A ton of work could be done in that direction, and people would get it almost instantly. Plus it’s “real organizing” in communities that have been hit hard by the crisis. Plenty do do.
Uh…that was “Plenty TO do.” Just noticed and too late to edit.
A group of port truck drivers thanked the “99 Percenters” on Monday for bringing attention to their profession, which they claim is rife with labor abuses.
Yeah, that’s what I mean. My idle speculation: they talked to a few people in the union who were positive about the idea, but something like that would have to be approved by the union locally, then nationally. That requires follow-up and enters the complicated territory that the ILWU cannot call an essentially political strike while still bound by their CBA.
I feel the same way and I’m only 33. I like the spirit behind #OWS, but I think it need to become something more organized and concrete. The forces arrayed against us are powerful and well-organized.
I like this move to stopping evictions and auctions. It’s very 1932 retro, but a good tactic.
One wonders how the Russian Revolution ever happened.
I’d love to see this happen. But OWS is apparently too busy worrying about being co-opted to form this kind of alliance. I think the strategy they’re going for is a twist on an old classic: no friends, all enemies.
“One wonders how the Russian Revolution ever happened.”
Fur hats and vodka…
Not by me, you won’t. I’ve been saying that since the first damn tent went up.
I think the most hilarious thing about this post is Cole’s conceit that the public sits around with a discernable measure of background worring that the ports aren’t operating at maximum efficiency.
My brother seems to have had a role in this — he does labor and class organizing in WA. The logic is… Show strength, get media attention, talk about social justice, repeat. Disruption is the goal, not a hoocoodanode side effect. I don’t think it’s any more complicated than that. Some people like confrontation and the thrill of righteous conflict, and some people don’t. He does.
@Nix: “A group” generally means “not the union but some breakaway portion.”
“Any actions organized by outside groups, including the proposed Dec. 12 shutdown of various terminals on the West Coast, have not been vetted by our union’s democratically led process,” the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said. “Any decisions made by groups outside of the union’s democratic process do not hold water, regardless of the intent.”
The Occupy movements that make a fetish of applying direct democracy and near absolute consensus to its own decision making might want to take note of that.
Richard Mead, president of ILWU Local 10, which represents dockworkers at the Port of Oakland, said, “Our position is in the international’s press release. We’re not facilitating (Occupy Oakland’s strike call) in any way. We just want that clear.”
Jeff Smith, president of ILWU Local 8 in Portland, Ore., went further, telling the Portland Tribune his union won’t honor picket lines. “This is a third-party strike. We have to go to work,” he said.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/12/07/BUTP1M8VTI.DTL#ixzz1gNccRwGh
‘Occupy’ is what it is…
It is disorganized and yet it is spontaneous.
Assymetrical warfare is like that. It’s is worked it’s magic. They have changed the discussion. What more do you want?
It is quite simple john. You go to your nearest general assembly and speak your mind. I do it, so can you.
Group therapy that we all get to pay for. How could anyone object?
Say, aren’t you that Ayn girl, used to have the pigtails…?
Here’s what I was looking for. I read it this morning. It’s the letter itself from Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports. Pay close attention to the descriptions provided of their job duties, benefits, etc.
My understanding is that’s a one-day affair, solely meant to disrupt for the day not for any extended length of time.
Odie Hugh Manatee
… and guns. Lotsa guns and the death that follows the use of them.
@opie jeanne: I LOVE camping, as do the rest of the family. Though I do admit to using a generator, microwave and RV refer to ease the discomforts associated with it.
One passerby observed our site and gear, then stated that we weren’t camping, we were living outdoors.
I’ve even brought a guitar, my Peavey Patriot amp (12 volt DC/120 volt AC) and effects boxes along. Nothing like cranking it up in the woods!
By making more and more people hate them, they further entrench their own sense of victimhood, and convince themselves even further in the divine sanctity of their cause.
It will result in further “we’re just like Civil Rights” and “we’re just like Gandhi” and that sort of bullshit.
What is it some of you always say about Democrats and their policies/messaging? ‘if you have to explain it, you’re doing it wrong’
Ask what ows is doing and you get sarcasm, attitude and hostility.
KS in MA
@Bruce S: “The focus of “occupy” should be on building a grassroots anti-foreclosure movement. That hits right at the heart of the ongoing crisis – as well as its roots. And it could push banks to back off in many cases, while forcing the administration’s hand to use whatever executive powers/Fed/Fannie-Freddie or whatever to put an effective program to help underwater and facing-foreclosure folks keep their homes.”
Darnell From LA
@cmorenc: Look, we liberals are not allowed to criticize OWS! You should know that by now. Obama? Sure, slam him all you want. OWS? The movement is above reproach. And if you disagree with their actions it’s just because you fail to see the wisdom of their tactics.
So there. And if some truckers complain when they lose income it’s obviously because they are part of the 1%.
NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!
Who cares? It’s all about the movement, man.
I’m pretty sure you get that no matter what you ask. As it should be.
And they’re getting overtime during all this, too, I believe. LOL
This is actually my fantasy strategy for dealing with all the voter suppression laws that have been passed this year. A senior citizen who’s been disenfranchised by the new rules goes to the polling place and makes their case to the registrar and the room at large. “I’m seventy years old. I’ve voted in every election since Eisenhower. But because my birth certificate was lost in a house fire twenty years ago I can’t vote today. It ain’t right.” And then they march into the voting booth and sit down. Make the cops come and arrest them. And then half an hour later it happens again. Keep that up all day – mind you, only at the larger polling stations where having one booth out of commission won’t seriously fubar the process.
Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal
I think the basic symbol of the ports is important. The reason we don’t make stuff here, and you can’t reasonably just start to make something here and sell it here; manufacturing capitalism from scratch, competition with the corporations claiming they are just competing better, doing nothing wrong, because anyone can compete with them, is a lie.
corporations are bringing stuff in that was made elsewhere, and preventing homegrown competition for jobs and everything else.The game is rigged so you can’t be Thomas Edison, or Henry Ford, which is the promised upside of capitalism and free marketing.
“What is the point of this?”
The point is, OWS is fucking stupid.
@magurakurin: Voting in less Republicans isn’t going to fix the situation.
Perhaps you are forgetting that the Dems had the house senate and presidency and let Wall Street get away with almost everything. The OWS people did not forget this. D’s being toothless is the reality. There is a reason that I have almost never met someone in real life who was excited to vote for a D because of their policies. It is always “I can’t let those crazy R’s get in there.”
The person running for office has to earn people’s votes, he or she doesn’t get them by default.
All these people are out there and they are obviously politically active. They will vote but many will need a reason beyond “Look at the other guy!” They are marching and voicing their concerns. The onus is on politicians to answer their call.
Odd. When the unionized dock workers go on strike for better wages, job security, improved working conditions, they expect sympathy for their cause. And are right to do so.
But when the OWS people seek to bring attention to the larger forces that fuck over working people, then we are supposed to worry about “working stiffs” and the public mood.
Everyone is missing an opportunity here. And the idea that protests are supposed to be painless and sterile airing go grievances is ludicrous.
For John and others who are interested in explanations, Mamatas out in Oakland explains why the unions are better off not declaring support for the shutdown: it allows ’em to get paid for the hours they’re prevented from working. Here:
Here’s some more explanation for you doubters: at Naked Capitalism, Matt Stoller takes a look at some FOMC minutes from 2005 in which the ports are discussed:
Matt Stoller: Why Does the Dallas Fed President Want to Destroy West Coast Port Unions?
I view people’s inability to get what this day of action was about in a manner akin to the way that Mr. Cole seems to view people’s inability to understand why police drones are a matter for concern. I.e.: WTF?
As someone who previously worked with the ILWU (I left a little while ago) and know some of the players involved, I feel compelled to say a little (it’s very late for me so bear with the rambling).
Leaving aside the legal issues of the ILWU honoring this picket, which are many and incredibly important (especially in light of the Port of Longview terminal litigation), I want to cut to some problems the OWS has with antagonizing the ILWU.
For starters, the ILWU is the nation’s most radical union of any size. It not only has a long history of incredible action but is considerably to the left of most everyone commenter here. They are, for those familiar, the archetype of traditional CIO union – disciplined and political. They only supported a single-payer healthcare bill (despite having some of the best medical coverage in the labor movement) and, unlike most American unions, engage in international labor solidarity and radical politics – the ILWU actively lobbies congress on Mumia Abu Jamal, for instance. They have a history of engagement and struggle for which OWS cannot begin to grapple: recent actions include shutting down west coast ports in protest of the Iraq War and even getting George Bush to invoke a taft-hartley injuction in 2002 (a big deal and the first usage of an injunction by a US president in 25 years) In short, these men (and women) are not strangers to the activist game.
But something people should always keep in mind, is that a union is not some form of basterdized political movement. It is an association in which people forgo part of their paycheck to bargaining collectively to improve their paycheck, workplace and lives. At times this can be parochial and, at others, not. Still, at the end of the day, these are associations of workers, not the young socialists league, the sparts or a dorm room fantasy.
But few unions can still boast of uniting these disparate streams of attention to membership, poltical engagement and struggle better than the ILWU.
OWS has a lot of promise, but for it to casually dismiss allies with more serious experience is a bad idea. And that is what they did here. They presumptuously declared that the work stoppage was, in part, on behalf of ILWU workers absent there consent.
OWS needs to broaden its net and win over more people, especially important constituencies like radical labor unions.
But an action like this reminds me of the New Left’s self assured dismissals of unions in favor of romantic struggles. I’ll let the reader judge how that turned out.
The dock workers are probably on their side like they have been in previous situations like this?
I mean, dock workers. There was a time when people understood what that term meant
^ What this means is that union members are helping OWS and the leadership is disavowing their actions
I think this is a good idea except everyone involved would be charged with criminal conspiracy under federal law so it would be very hard to talk people into this
To your credit, SDS helped found Occupy Wall Street :)
HOW ABOUT THAT SEGWAY SCOOTER, hi I’m Nellcote and I’ve been in a cave for the last decade
These threads are great because it’s when all the center-right reactionaries who used to claim this turf dodder out to shake their flintlock muskets at the new regime
This provides ammo for Newt especially.
First of all, there utimately nothing wrong with any tactic that lets you grab some attention and free media to get your message out. It lets some attention fall on the likes of Richard Fisher, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, who throughout the last four years has been one of the chief Austerians and who sees high unemployment as a feature, not a bug of his policies. Matt Stoller talks about warm fuzzy feeling he has for the West Coast port workers in the following piece at “Naked Capitalism.” http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/12/matt-stoller-why-does-the-dallas-fed-president-want-to-destroy-west-coast-port-unions.html
Second, the Occupied folks could have been a bit stronger with the narrative that this action is about bringing attention to the policy, so well laid out by Fisher, of shifting jobs and manufacturing from the U.S. to China for the benefit of the .1% (CEOs and the Financial Masters of the Universe).
Occupy should be better at getting its message out, but how does it do this when the media seems to be working 24/7 to muddle and cloud any report about OWS? The port shutdown is very focused on causing economic harm and drawing light to Goldman Sachs subsidiary SSA run ports. OWS can not work closer with the unions because the unions are hobbled by contract and labor law. So we have this wink wink nod nod stuff from union folks.
I don’t see any grand conspiracy in the media other than laziness and the media’s penchant post-McCarthy/Reagan for siding with management in every story.
“To your credit, SDS helped found Occupy Wall Street :)”
Yeah, with the sit-in and arrests at Chase Manhattan Bank in March of 1965, protesting investments in apartheid…
@Tim: Ho Lee Fuck. That was just scary.
On Russian TV (RTN) — definitely NOT supportive of western corporatists, they hosted a show that had a US union leader on to provide his point of view and information. I wish that I could remember his name..
Your first fact They’re often privately owned, according to this guy, is Wrong — States and the public own several. Again, I wish that I had been more attentive to the details of which ones.
This was just stupid and not a valuable undertaking. Is it naivete or being infiltrated with anarchists or others who want to blow the movement up? Don’t know… and not saying its nefarious. Seriously however, the PORTS are not an obvious message here… They had everyone back at the banks and financial institutions. NOW they have put union workers on the spot and are letting the banksters up for air. STOOPID (just my opinion)
Ya know, in a pure universe, people from unions, (ya know the working stiffs), wouldnt have to worry about paychecks. Additionally, the unions have been strong supporters of the OWS movememt early on — providing dough and LAWYERS and legal advice, to get people outa jail, gerrymander various rules and regs, etc. NOW you kick them in the nuts? REALLY? WHY? What is the cost/benefit of spitting on your union folks?
I am very sorry. This is just major futile and not worthwhile. The bankstas give us traction — not the UNIONS!!!