ILWU clarifies position regarding third-party protests at ports

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (November 22, 2011)
In response to recent third-party announcements that community activists
will attempt to shut down various West Coast marine terminals on December 12, 2011, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) sent a memo to its 15,000 longshore members and leaders emphasizing the union’s
internal democratic process and stating its rejection of third-party calls for
job actions that have not been sanctioned by its Officers or voted on by member representatives. The memo stated in part, “To be clear, the ILWU, the Coast Longshore Division, and Local 21 are not coordinating independently or in conjunction with any self-proclaimed organization or group to shut down any port or terminal, particularly as it relates to our dispute with EGT in Longview.”

“The ILWU shares the Occupy Wall Street movement’s concerns about
corporate abuses and the future of the middle class, but we must be clear that
any actions organized by outside groups, including the proposed December 12 shutdown of various terminals on the West Coast, have not been vetted by our union’s democratically led process,” said Robert McEllrath, ILWU International President. “Only ILWU members or their elected representatives can authorize job actions on behalf of the union, and any decisions made by groups outside of the union’s democratic process do not hold water, regardless of the intent.”

Several announcements have been made by online activists claiming that they intend to shut down terminals in support of the ILWU’s primary dispute with EGT, a multinational grain export terminal in Longview, WA, that broke off talks with the ILWU after nine months of negotiations.

“The ILWU has received strong public support as people find out about multinational EGT’s attempts to undermine American working conditions,” said Leal Sundet, ILWU Coast Committeeman. “While people are inspired to support the fight for good jobs at EGT, the fact remains that our plan to reach an agreement with EGT is led solely by the longshore workers who have worked grain on the West Coast for the past eight decades.”

The ILWU represents 50,000 men and women on the docks and in warehouses and other industries in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii.

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