Jan 6th 2012: Unity vs. Union Bureaucracy

Jan 6th 2012: Unity vs. Union Bureaucracy
Occupy Seattle in Solidarity with Longview, WA

Note: The following piece has been written by some organizers of the January 6th Longview, WA action planning meeting and solidarity panel in Seattle. It does not represent the opinions of all the organizers of the Friday, January 6th meeting. For unaffiliated updates on the Longview solidarity actions please check out this website: http://westcoastportshutdown.org/ or email: seattleportsolidarity@gmail.com.

In order to contact the writers of this article specifically, please email: 21st.century.class.struggle@gmail.com

On Friday, January 6th, members of Occupy Seattle organized an event to build for an endorsed solidarity action to block a grain ship owned by union busting corporation EGT in Longview, WA. Longshore workers in Longview, members of the ILWU Local 21, are being displaced from their jobs by the international EGT and replaced with scab labor. They are fighting back, with support from the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Labor Council. Occupy Longview has also actively reached out to the Occupy movement to join them. Occupy activists up and down the coast have answered this call and committed to mobilizing large numbers of people to caravan to Longview to take direct action in solidarity with Local 21’s struggle.

The Friday event emphasized the importance of working class unity and solidarity. It was a historic event bringing together rank and file union members, along with those from the 89% of the working class that is not unionized and unemployed. Through this event, we showed that Occupy is a new type of working class movement that goes beyond the limits of traditional trade unionism by bringing together working class people across industrial lines, and across lines of race, gender, and national origin. Building off the example of the December 12th West coast port shutdown (D12), speakers dared to envision forms of class struggle that exceed the limits set by 20th century labor laws purposed to constrain past struggles into tame truces that are being broken now by companies like EGT. There was a sense that if Local 21 (Longview) wants to win the fight for its life, it will have to embrace the new forms of struggle that Occupy represents.

Together with members of Occupy Portland and Occupy Oakland, we organized a panel where longshore workers from Longview, Oakland, and Portland spoke alongside organizers from Occupy Seattle and Occupy Oakland. The speakers at the event reminded us of the militant struggles that ILWU workers have participated in historically. They reminded us of the need for working class solidarity, between non-union and union workers, as well as with unemployed workers, as the only way we can defeat big capital – the 1%. Through the retelling of these stories, we learned from the ILWU members that the toughest, most controversial decisions are most often the simplest, most important to make. When grounded in principles of solidarity, class struggle, and fighting state oppression, our actions will unify. The speaker from Local 21, a rank and file member, revealed the conditions in Longview where police harassment has become an everyday affair to punish the workers for participating in direct action, against union busting efforts by EGT. The moving speeches can be seen and heard through Occupy Seattle’s livestream.

Portland

On Thursday, January 5th, the night before the Seattle event, Occupy Portland hosted a similar panel. The Local 21 (Longview) President Dan Coffman, spoke on the panel. Coffman had been slated to come to Seattle the next day to participate in a similar conversation. When Coffman spoke in Portland, the lights and microphone at the hosting facility went out suddenly. The electricity had cut out, right when the Longview union president was to begin speaking.

During the open microphone, the Local 4 (Vancouver, WA) President Brad Clark took the microphone. To the Occupy crowd of longshore, unemployed, students, and non-union workers, he offered an impassioned plea which reflected the position of the International, “We support Occupy, we support Longview, but please keep your mistaken efforts at solidarity away.” His message was contrary to the voices of the workers and community members in Longview.

Later, long after the announcement of the close of stack to wrap up the meeting which had already gone 15 minutes over time, Local 8 (Portland) President Jeff Smith demanded to speak. Jeff Smith had made a name for himself in the weeks leading up to the event, evicting Occupy Portland members from the union hall in the lead-up to the D12 Port shutdown, denouncing the event in local media, and even threatening to rip fliers from the hands of Occupy members. In a blatant act of disrespect to the event, Smith took the stage, preceding to read a long, publicly published letter from the leadership of the ILWU international. As the crowd in attendance filed out of the room in protest, Smith finished his letter to a mostly empty hall, while rank and file longshore and retirees stayed behind to rebut him for what audience remained.

Subsequently, after Longview workers spoke in Portland, Oregon, the leadership of ILWU International allegedly ordered picket support from Locals in Portland and Vancouver for Longview’s longstanding picket be immediately ceased. We would soon find out that this form of disruption and sabotage would not be an isolated incident.

Seattle

The next day, Friday, January 6th, we heard from Portland organizers that the ILWU International had clamped down on the Longview members for their public speeches and organizing. We were told that they would be forbidden from attending the speaking engagement in Seattle.

Our initial disappointment at finding out this news was reversed when we received a phone call only hours before the event, saying that some Longview rank and file members would come after all. They arrived minutes before the panel began, but they were determined to build with the Occupy movement in Seattle for the Longview convergence.

Prior to the panel, we had a planning meeting for the solidarity caravans. Working groups formed to organize logistics and local solidarity actions for the arrival of the EGT ship. As the meeting went on, groups of people wearing ILWU jackets began showing up at the door. We recognized individuals from Local 19 (Seattle) leadership, including Richard Austen (president of the Pacific Coast Pensioners Association), Cam Williams (President) and Richard Eisner (Vice President of the Labor Relations Council). They were debating with some other longshore workers and members of Occupy Seattle outside the event.

We had initially thought we had a functional relationship with the officers of Local 19 (Seattle). Prior to D12, we had established communications with the union officers where they had expressed respect for our port shutdown efforts even though they said they could not be involved because of labor law constraints and threats from the courts. On November 30th, the President of Local 19, Cam Williams had publicly received a solidarity letter we had written to the local, and in response he held his fist up in the air saying “Solidarity Forever.” On D12 itself, Terminal 5 owners violated their contract with ILWU and withheld pay for the longshore workers even when the arbitrator ruled it was unsafe for them to cross our picket line. We were encouraged by a well-respected union officer to picket outside Terminal 5 in the morning, to help the longshore workers make the point that a violation of their contract was not acceptable. Workers refused to cross our line, delaying the start of the December 13 dayshift for an hour.

Things were not so friendly the night of January 6th. Around 5:50pm, 10 minutes before the panel began, a self-identified longshore worker in the audience came up to one of our organizers. He told her that there would be a disruption of the panel, and that any Longview rank and file member who spoke would be physically removed from the stage. Audience members also heard ILWU members in the audience who had arrived prior to the event, talk about going to the bar across the street to get drinks before the event started. Because of the short time notice, the organizers were unable to strategize any further, apart from making sure that the stage was guarded by a few Occupy participants with security experience.

The disruption took place when Jack Heyman, retired ILWU member from Local 10 (Oakland) spoke. Cam Williams, President of Local 19 (Seattle), along with several ILWU members behind him, rushed to the microphone that was set up in the middle of the room. He interrupted Heyman’s speech and demanded that the letter from the International be read. Organizers of the event went up to him telling him he would get the chance to speak during the open discussion period after the panel was over. An indigenous Latina woman, organizer with Occupy Seattle, was our last speaker after Jack Heyman. She intended to speak about connecting the Longview struggle with the farmworker struggles, many of whom were trying to unionize under harsh and authoritarian conditions. Occupy Seattle has recently started to mobilize in solidarity with farmerworkers, as an initial step toward a mass action on May Day. We requested that the ILWU members show respect to the event and the speakers by waiting their turn.

Cam Williams shoved the organizers aside and grabbed the microphone. Subsequently, about 15-20 ILWU members and union officers, who had spread themselves out across the hall, took the cue to disrupt. Presidents of Local 4 (Vancouver, WA) and Local 8 (Portland) made sure to throw their weight around. When asked to leave, they threw punches, shoved people, swore and yelled. Their breaths reeked of alcohol. One man wearing ILWU swag was holding a megaphone he had brought along. Audience members surrounding them chanted “shame, shame” and “sit down or leave.” They had come prepared to prevent the unity of Longview rank and filers and the Occupy movement. They were goons, doing what exactly the bosses want them to do. The leaders of the most militant union in this country, was acting like company goons.

It was unsurprising that these goons who were set to destroy any form of class solidarity, were also sexists. They were preventing a woman of color from speaking by disrupting the panel. Among those who asked them to show respect, were two female members of Occupy Seattle. In response, two individuals called one of these women “baby” and told the other to “put a muzzle on her.” In response, the man was slapped across the face by the first woman, with his glasses knocked off. Him and the other goons he had come with, proceeded to shove the women, only to be met with more physical resistance from Occupy Seattle folks who had had enough of this sexist behavior.

An ILWU member also proceeded to call the police on the event. We believe it is important to let everyone know, that some in the Local 19 (Seattle) goonsquad, in their efforts to stop the class solidarity between Occupy and Longview workers, were willing to rely on the state, the apparatus that has been known to suppress labor movements, including in Longview.

We know however, that the actions taken by those individuals on Friday Jan 6th, does not speak for all of Local 19. To those who oppose the actions, we hope to continue building with you.

Efforts that had been focused on building and organizing quickly transitioned into protection and safety measures. We, of Occupy Seattle, reject sexism and misogyny in any form. Neither will we welcome undemocratic goon squads, and it became clear to us that despite our best efforts to remove them, the disruptors had come prepared to halt our important coalition work by any means. In the end, only the State and corporations benefit from these divisions.

We believe that Local 19 (Seattle) of the ILWU owes an apology to Occupy Seattle for disrupting our event with drunk goons. The presidents of Local 8 (Jeff Smith, Portland), 4 (Brad Clark, Vancouver, WA) and 19 (Cam Williams, Seattle) were involved in the disruption, as were elected officers of Local 19. This appears to be an action led by the ILWU leadership. We wonder if they had received prior approval from the rank and file of the union.

Further, the individuals who participated in the sexist misogyny directed at the women in the audience need to apologize for their actions. We have your photos.

Implications for Longview struggle

Many of us came away from Friday’s action more determined to support Longview rank and filers who risked so much to be present in Seattle to build with the Occupy movements. We believe that together, we can present a 21st century version of class struggle based on the principle: An Injury to One is an Injury to All. Narrow minded, parochial tunnel visions held by bureaucrats and their loyal followers, will only destroy class struggle. It is exactly the tunnel visions of union bureaucracies that have brought us to a 2012 where only a tiny percent of the workforce is unionized and where Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO is simply a tool of the Democratic Party. The problem is not simply that union leaders keep betraying us because they cowardly or greedy. The problem is that old forms of struggle that gave birth to the unions no longer work in this globalized world, and the union leaders are sending goons to prevent us from building something new that actually would work; they are trying to prevent us from transcending their dying structures, and they are insisting that we all go down with the ship.

Some members of Local 19 (Seattle) have told us that this was primarily a beef within the ILWU and that we had been caught in the middle. We were told that some union members loyal to the ILWU International are beefing with what they perceive to be a progressive or left wing of the bureaucracy, lead by Jack Heyman from Local 10 (Oakland). That’s why they chose to launch the disruption during his speech. We have been told that we are perceived as Jack’s shock troops, or foot soldiers, which is why we were also attacked.

It is unclear to us whether Jack and his crew represent a progressive wing of the bureaucracy, or an inner-union reform caucus that could attempt to take positions in the bureaucracy in the future. In any case, we are nobody’s foot soldiers and our struggle is not in any way confined to attempts to reform the ILWU from within. Occupy is a fiercely independent movement, consisting of working class people from different unions, who are unemployed, employed, and non-union as well. We have working class demands that cannot simply be confined to an individual workplace union nor addressed by any political party. As one Occupy Seattle panelist said, we can act like a bottom up union fighting collectively, like the Longview ILWU rank and file and other ILWU members in their best moments, except we don’t have an “up.”

We were happy to share the stage with Jack Heyman because he is doing good work, helping mobilize in solidarity with the Longview workers. But our ultimate interest in this matter is to support Occupy Longview and fighting longshore workers, as we attempt to develop new ways of struggle that transcend the limits of 20th century unions. We will face down goon squads from the Longview workers’ own union to get their backs because they are facing the same kind of job insecurity and police harassment that many of us face. We are not some “naive” youth who can be used a pawns by union activists. We are oppressed people ourselves – workers and unemployed – and we are doing this as our own organizational force with our own interests.

As members of Occupy Seattle who were active with the D12 port shutdown, we would like to reiterate that we did not shut down the port on D12 because Jack Heyman told us to! As we had stated before, we shut down the port to resist police harassment and austerity cuts that are destroying our communities. We asked the ILWU to be in solidarity with us on that day by refusing to cross our line. We also expressed solidarity with Longview rank and file because they are fighting like we are fighting, and like us they are considered outlaws by this decrepit system.

Occupy is no one’s tool and we will not be co-opted or intimidated. We are a new movement of the working class, including the 89% of the US workforce that is not unionized, and rank and file members of unions who believe that the traditional ways of fighting no longer work, and the unemployed who are increasingly on the move. In our schools, workplaces and neighborhoods, we resist the intrusion of Capital – the 1%, and the race to the bottom, the economic nationalism and white supremacy that pits workers against one another based on national origin.

*

The upcoming battle against EGT can only be won if workers, both union and non-union, and community members respond to the call by Occupy Longview and Local 21 workers, to mobilize their forces. We need longshore workers on the East Coast, international longshore workers across the Pacific Ocean, as well as all workers, union and non-union, to fight back against big capital – the 1%. Food justice organizations concerned about the manufacture and distribution of food can also target the main investor of EGT, Bunge Grain , that owns 30% of the world’s grain supply. Bunge’s storage facilities in the South, along the Mississippi River are also campaign targets for Occupy movements in the South that want to be in solidarity with the Longview struggle. There are countless stories of small towns where union busting and deindustrialization have left towns poor, open to the building of the next new privatized immigration detention center or prisons, herding in yet more immigrants and people of color, in the 21st century human trade. The battle in Longview is crucial to prevent exactly this.

An Injury to One, Is an Injury to All
Defend Longview, WA from multinational corporation, EGT!!

27 Responses to Jan 6th 2012: Unity vs. Union Bureaucracy

  • REPUBLIC says:

    Here is a comment that will go to deaf ears due to the fact that OS is out of touch with the times.

    1. Unions are good to an extent, however the times have changed and unions have not changed with the times.

    2. Socialist/communist mentality never worked in the past.
    a. Socialists/communists intentions were suppose to be good but the leaders totalitarian government had too much power and enslaved its people with tyranny and governed with an iron fist.
    b. Socialists/communists are not with the times it stifles people entrepreneurship and thinking outside the box. It is an antiquated ideology that dumb down people thinking and common sense.

    Do you want to make a change in the USA? Here are what you do?

    1. Quit depending on the government for entitlements

    2. Live by this statement “ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU–ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY. JFK

    3. Quit crying and blame the 1% for everything do yourselves and others a favor either go to work or open your own socialist business
    a. Open manufacturing and other factories to start to rebuild our country.
    b. Hire unemployed families and the unskilled instead of asking your “Daddy Government” for handouts.
    c. People open business and create jobs not the government.

    4. Remember the more power you give the government the more they will take.

    THE A-Z GUIDE

    The truth! Protests are made up by a conglomerate of the following:
    a. Sympathizers
    b. Drug users
    c. Self-inflicted social burdens
    d. The misled/brainwashed
    e. Copycats that will go along with the few
    f. Lazy individuals that want to be taken cared of
    g. Covet and envy others who work hard
    h. It’s everybody’s fault for my problems therefore they owe me
    i. Why work hard if I could get it for free
    j. Individuals that cannot cope with real life issues
    k. Why have morals everything goes; it is my right
    l. Abortion is a right therefore I am not a baby killer
    m. I don’t need God I know what is right or wrong
    n. My opinion matters the most all others are wrong
    o. The unfocused and uncleared thinkers
    p. What’s in for me?
    q. Looters and violence is a right
    r. Disrespect and disobey law enforcement is a right
    t. A collection of a “few individuals” ideology is for everyone
    u. Demonize, Label and Seclude oppositions
    v. The US Constitution is antiquated
    w. I am a slave to the 1%
    x. The government will take care of me and give me everything
    y. It is my right to have what everyone have
    z. 1% wealthy puppeteers socialist ideologies (Mr. Soros, George & many more self made gods like him)

    ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU–ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY. JFK

    • Corpulace says:

      Regurgitating old Fox News/Glenn Beck talking points is fun and easy. You forgot to mention Czars and Maoist though.

      • REPUBLIC says:

        Czars are people that are in power through the government. These guys are your leaders when US becomes a failed state. A failed State merits Marshall Law that can be declared by the president of the US. This will cause the antiquated constitution written by slave owners suspended indef. US will become socialist which socialism will make the US a failed state as well, just look at Europe.

        Maoist has nothing to do with the Occupy. This organization wants free entitlements from the government, therefore make you a socialist slave. Enjoy your free entitlements.

        I do not watch Fox News and Glenn Beck nor CNN. I read small AP news and other not well known. These small news media I find them a little less biased.

        Your pappeteer master Soros is the leader of socialism and donated millions to your daddy Obama.

        • Corpulace says:

          Who taught you about Soros? I find it hard to believe small AP articles and other not well known news sources gave you this biased info on George Soros.

          “Your pappeteer master Soros is the leader of socialism and donated millions to your daddy Obama.”

          And you *never* watch Fox News or Glenn Beck. Amazing on your own you spout the exact same talking points.

          • REPUBLIC says:

            http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2010/09/opensecrets-battle—koch-brothers.html

            Pappeteer master, where did I get this word from? Honestly, my friends and I were talking about politics and somehow the word puppet master came up. You know when someone in politics will not do what they promise, but will do what their bosses tells them what to do, so that is how we came up with it. I haven’t watched Fox News in about 4 or 5 years now, because just line CNN they are biased and label one and another, which I personally dislike. As far as Glenn Beck that man has lose screws and if someone told him that the world ends next week he will panic and get a heart attack.
            As far as Soros concern I read the above link and then I started to take interest in Soros and did research and that is how I figured he was socialist. You should you tube this man and see what he says. There are many hints it is just a matter to bypass the fluff and get the truth.

            Daddy Obama is the same as if I lived with my parents were I get all that I need and depend from them without responsibility. Obama just like Bush bailed out wealthy companies, and in the end they gave each other (CEO) raises for nearly banrupting their companies and causing thousands of people to be out of work.

            Anyway, I hope that this answers your questions. By the way, what does your screen name stands for? I enjoy chatting with you.

          • Corpulace says:

            I would seriously consider sueing Glenn Beck because he has been on an Anti Soros, anti Union tirade since his Fox show began, and I assume on his Internet network thing. He says the exact same things you were saying about Mr Soros, plus much more vile accusations.
            And when I taught disabled kids in CA I had a student named Corpulace. I have never seen that name since, and it is guaranteed to be available as a user name. So I apologize to the poor kid when he sees his name all over the Internet.

          • REPUBLIC says:

            First of all, it is nice of you to keep Corpulace alive in the internet. There are people out there that care about disabled people. As far as Mr. Soros being a Socialist I believe that is common knowledge, as I was saying earlier the hints are there on how he speaks and what he does. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who Mr. Soros is? He doesn’t hide his cover very well.

            Here is another one for you, have you watched Glee? I watched two episodes with my niece and by the end of the second episode I figured out that the show is very left wing biased with socialism tendencies. The show is biased and indoctrinating young minds to become the next generation of government children beggars. Please don’t tell me that the idiot Glenn Beck say the same thing, by the way, I didn’t know he had a network show? I thought he would just enjoy his millions after his Fox News show.

    • donny1020 says:

      Republic,don’t really understand what your problem is with the Decolonize folks. Their parents are wealthy, they live off of dividend checks, they are anti-worker, anti-union, They have done more to destroy the OWS movement then anyone on the right could have ever done.

      You can continue to spout your tired worn out lines but the facts show that since the bourgeois Trotskyites have co-opted the OWS movement activity has dropped off dramatically. The folks on the right should be funding groups such as the SEP, the ISO and the RCP.

      I believe that the Decolonize folks would agree to everyone of the issues you pointed out are problems with Unions. They state that even though Union leaders are elected by the membership through a democratic process it means nothing to them. While they are not members of any Union they believe that they should have the right to tell the working class what type of organizations they should belong too and how those organizations should be run.

      Just like you, they to are for a strong central leadership structure but of coarse they would put themselves at the top of this structure as it would be only fair and equitable in their minds. They believe just like you that American labor laws should be done away with.

      Just pointing this out.

      • REPUBLIC says:

        The problem lies in the people who are too lazy to get off that couch and vote. Did you know this nanny state only 60% go out and vote? O wait a minute, those are people like me who wants do away with labor laws who vote. If that is your thinking then we are in trouble. Instead going out there and be a nuissance to others go and vote participate in the political arena, voice out in town hall meetings held by dumb politicians. O you are not register go online and type in a search engine “register to vote in … county. Add your county name where … are.

        It is all our fault to be in a situation that politicians do what they want and ally themselves with wealthy lobbyst. People keep voting the same jerks to controkl the government and forget what they did against us or did not keep their promise.

        This group cries about where are my rights, my entitlements, my, my, my. Everything revolves around you and so you think. I am representing the 99%, BS I say. I don’t feel I belong with this group not because I am conservative, but because my parents legal immigrants showed me in order to beat the system is to work hard, save money, live within your means, help your community, don’t flip off to someone that said or did something that doesn’t seat well with you. You never know you might find yourself in a situation where you need help and that person that you flipped off or cuss out is the only helping hand that you may see.

        What make me sick about this group is that they want reform, help, entitlements, and rights from the government. Get off the lazyboy and vote out incumbents, be creative and create jobs for you and others, donate to charity, and help one and another. Last quit spending your money for junk that the 1% brain wash you with ads for you to buy. We the people need to rely on ourselves and the community and not the government. Once you rely on the government you are a SLAVE and must adhere to their rules where to live and what to eat.

        Quit living like a bunch of children and start to be innovative ans self reliant, morons!

  • Boswell says:

    …I can’t help but understand why the Longshoremen hesitated to embrace OS after what happened at that “port shut down.” A handful of the kiddies-in-the-hoodies threw flares and bottles at police for no reason under the sun then to prove to the world that OS has a bunch of idiots in its ranks.
    Do they have any idea how bad that makes this movement look to the mainstream? Do they have any idea how many working class people see stuff like that and decide they don’t want to get involved with OS? Do they have any idea how hard it is for me and people like me to walk around with “99%” buttons on and have people give us dirty looks because they think we’re with them?
    Worse yet, the violence isn’t isolated to the police. Anyone within OS, like me, who suggests we work within the system or encourage real reform are likely to be the target of violence from the same thugs who target the police. Myself and others have been targeted by insults and threats of intimidation of the radicals simply for saying what’s on our mind.
    I like this little sentence the best in this letter: “Occupy is no one’s tool and we will not be co-opted or intimidated” Well, I believe we should also not allow it to be co-opted or intimidated by the anarchists, the “revolutionaries”, or the racial extremists within its ranks. There is a word for all the above groups: fascists. We reasonable people should stand in solidarity with working people and unions while standing up to the bullying tactics of the fascists wing of Occupy Seattle. We will not allow ourselves to be co-opted by them anymore then we will allow ourselves to be co-opted by the Democratic party.
    -Boswell,
    reasonablesolutionsos@gmail.com

    • REPUBLIC says:

      Whose fault is to make this movement look bad? Look at yourself and those around you that let these disgruntled join your ranks. Do you want to keep integrity within the OS? Take pictures of these individual and confront them and tell them to live the area or the police will be dispatched for csusing problems.

      I told you this once before and you still crying about it. This is why I don’t feel part of this group because there are a bunch of cry babies and want everything from the government including to make those bad people with the hoodies to go away. Organize and tell them to live, and if they persist let the police know who is not part of the OS. Why are people so scared to point out the perpetrators. Take pictures, record the events, try to ID and report to police. Quit your whining and do something about.

      If you and this OS group cannot nip it in the bud please don’t hesitate to invite me and I will help you to get those dumb people from the OS movement ranks.

    • Prudence Fortis says:

      Hi Boswell,

      thank you so much for sounding a balanced note in all this. I am currently reluctant to display my 99% colors, even though I am mostly encouraged by what I see of Occupy. Perhaps for reasons similar to yours — although I hesitate to use the word “fascist.” I think of it as an “idealogue” in action, when I see someone judging others based on some preferred theory about how society is constructed (whatever validity that theory might have). For example, describing someone who is angry as a “goon” – oh dear!

  • REPUBLIC says:

    ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU !! Keep that in your thick head.

    • Corpulace says:

      If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
      John F. Kennedy

      • REPUBLIC says:

        A free society does not hold you back, I am first generation born in the USA and both my parents entered this nation legally and worked hard, earned a pay check, lived below their means, made ends meet, have few possession, and lived the American dream. They never wanted anything from the government and relied on themselselves.

        Now, I do understand about the poor people, but in order to move to a better American dream you must not rely on the government, use your God given brain to get out of poverty.

        My parents are European therefore know all about poverty, failed socialist states, and totalitarian states. Their imput is that “Americans don’t know how well they have it until it is all lost”. My parents came here during the Kennedy”s era and that quote was stuck with them and now to me. I hope I can help someone there to let you know that the light you are staring at the end of the tunnel is a freight train.

        If you want to give up your liberty for some entitlements you have something coming that you wish that you can return to free society.

  • msmikestew35 says:

    I read the letter with much interest. This is invaluable as this is probably one of our (Occupiers) firsthand encounters with the Trade Union Movement. From the Socialist Equality Party, I send the warmest regards to the comrade who wrote this – whether we see eye to eye or otherwise on all political issues.

    The deterioration of the Trade Union apparatus has a logic. It is not simply a matter of corrupt bureaucrats. The main objective problem of Trade Unionism is that it wants to work with the capitalists. It wishes to get the best possible wage from the capitalist for the workers the movement represents. When American capitalism is very strong, this has limited success, of course in a globalized world, most times at the expense of the workers of another country.

    But capitalism is today facing a crisis worldwide. The Trade Union formula of pitting chinese worker against american worker, supporting bloody imperial wars no longer work to guarantee even a modicum of decent living to the American working class – of course it is the same for all workers in all nations.

    So what is to be done? This is not a new question. From the time Marx and Engels established the First International – in their farsighted attempt to guide the working class to alleviate their miserable existence brought about by the capitalist class – the limits of the Trade Union movement was clearly articulated.

    Socialists worked with the early Trade Unions in the early 30′s and then in the 60′s (in America). These unions were formed out of the direct bloody struggle of rank and file workers who were versed in socialist theory. The Democratic Party decided to coopt the movement to prevent the growth of the socialist aspirations of the workers.

    Some limited reforms were thus granted, but the dependence of the theory of Trade Unionism was shown by its insistence of rejecting socialists and purging socialist/communist members from its ranks.

    To understand why the trade union movement fails, it is crucial we understand that until the workers are ready to take over ownership of the means of production, there really is no threat to the capitalist class, who owns it all at the moment.

    Thus, how does the capitalist class respond to a General Strike? They starve the workers – with the help of the union leadership, who these days rarely pay out of the strike fund. They bring in scabs, thugs to beat the picket line. Finally, the union leadership calls off the strike because they are *not ready to lead the workers to take over the work place*

    That is the main issue. Imagine a strike that goes on for a week. Life becomes chaotic to all. There is a need to reopen the places of production so that we can provide the necessities to the working class to live. So how to do this? After all the capitalist class owns the means of production and they are not ready to meet the demands of the workers? And why would they meet our demands when they are certain that we have no plan to own the means of production and run it based on the needs of the working class rather than the private wealth of 400 individuals?

    This is the crux of the question. I warmly applaud the Occupiers determination and ask they read the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS.org)

    • donny1020 says:

      Most of you are not Union members. This not the fault of some elected union leader but the fact that you are too frightened to stand up to your employer.

      No Union member has elected you to speak on their behalf. You are the representative of any worker. You are just a bunch of wealthy children that want to tell the American worker how they should run their Unions. This has been a problem all along. If we say get out of our business, get the f*ck out of our business.

  • tigertheo says:

    The problem is that the USA is a country with unlimited wants. New clothes, bigger houses, fancier gadgets, more calaries, etc. Furthermore, Americans are overall resistant to change. For that reason, we refuse to adopt the metric standard, mass transportation, and more efficient community driven ownership.

    Read “Walden.” Think about buying less crap and living more. Look for the most affordable housing possible. Lose your ego. If you do these things, it will be much easier to get buy on a 24 to 32 hour a week job (as a single person). Dream.

    Here is the to do list
    * cancel all of your credit cards. They hit small businesses with 3.5% charges that go straight to Wall Street and the 1%
    * buy local at food coops. At a food coop, you are the owner. Plus, there are more local options and organic foods that do not use pesticides and herbicides.
    * switch from a big bank to a local credit union.
    * look for ways to use commonly owned assets rather than buying one ALL FOR YOURSELF. A computer owned by a library can be used 100% of the time, whereas your computer will sit idle all day long while you are at work.
    * quit participating in old capitalistic ways of engaging with others. Using Meetup.com, you can meet for yoga, meditation, etc. without paying some rich corporation for the privilege to have fun and be social.
    * rent rather than buy. Why pay an extra $10,000 to $20,000 for a pickup truck when you can rent a truck for less than $100 the next time you need to haul some furniture or dump some garbage? It only takes thirty minutes to rent a truck, plus you can save money and the environment by buying less.
    * do not cling to old ways of thinking about the purpose of life. You could die any moment. Furthermore, what do you really own? You do not own your body since it can be killed, injured, etc. without your say.
    * reject status symbols and ego. There is nothing more liberating.

    Love and solidarity: Crazy Spider Ted

    • REPUBLIC says:

      You know you hit right on the head of the nail. When I first joined 2 months ago I did mention some of the problems that people are having is self inflicted and I did say in order for them to be less supressed by the so called 1% is to spend less live within or below your means, but after so many times I mentioned that I received insults in return saying that it is easy for me to say that since I am on the right and have money. I answered and gave to all a little life secret of what I owned, my yearly salary and how old are my possesions, and when was the last time I purchased something like technology or wants. Guess what? I was responded with nothing. Tell me what is wrong with this group. Because my ideolgies are not the same as the majority of this group no one ever agree or partially agree with me.

  • REPUBLIC says:

    Quit boo hooing and wawawa. Do you need a tissues or would you like me to hold your hand while we confront those bad people with the hoodie. No wander that what I say in this website is either against me or just give me the silent treatment. Awwww did I make booboo. In your feeling? Letme dispatch t wanbulance

  • REPUBLIC says:

    …is a way to legally enslave a society by giving the illusion that we are in charge of the means of production where we all dress alike and earn the same amount of money, and with those type of government your libertyand freedom of speech is nonexistent. You give power to the government to be our provider. Yeah to socialism and communism.

  • REPUBLIC says:

    Get that information in your thick spoiled skull.

    You will not have liberty or freedom of speech because you refuse to be self reliant. If you want to be treated like a child where everything is provided for live with your parents.

  • Isis says:

    There really shouldn’t be any confusion about Jack Heyman’s role in the ILWU. For one, he’s retired, so he is not able to hold any position of power in the union. Before he was retired he was a member of the Executive Board of Local 10, which is quite different than being part of the bureaucracy. Members of the Executive Board are longshore workers, who continue to work their jobs on the waterfront, working side by side with their fellow workers on the docks. The Executive Board is more like a working committee than a bureaucratic position. Workers are essentially elected volunteers. No one is getting paid for their work on the Executive Board.

    The same is true for presidents and officers of small union locals. They are not paid bureaucrats, but active longshore workers with real jobs on the waterfront. Unlike the officers of the ILWU International, they interact directly with other workers, and it’s much harder to screw over people when you work with them, see them often, and have to look them in the eye.

    On the other hand, the officers of the ILWU International, who are sabotaging the struggle of the ILWU rank and file, are paid bureaucrats, who are quite out of touch with the workers. They are not working as longshore workers. Their job is not to empower their fellow workers, but to empower themselves by upholding the bureaucracy of the union, because that’s their own bread and butter. They are basically politicians. Their priority is to maintain good relations with the bosses, and to force the rank and file to comply with union busting laws like Taft-Hartley, under the guise of ‘protecting the union’ from expensive lawsuits. They are complicit in taking away the power of the union by discouraging and interfering with direct actions.

    Jack spent 40 years in the union, organizing solidarity actions along the same lines as the Occupy movement is doing now, often at great personal risk. He has never tried to reform the bureaucracy, but has always recognized that these bureaucrats are class collaborators who must be stripped of their power. Throwing him into the same category with these bureaucrats is doing a great disservice to the decades of class struggle work he has done, which contributed to keeping the ILWU as strong a union as it has been, in spite of interference from the corrupt union bureaucracy.

    • REPUBLIC says:

      ILWU and its laborers are a bunch of thugs that causes mischief, illegally stopping traffic, assaulting innocent people, and a disturbing the peace.

    • donny1020 says:

      you are correct but I would hardly demonize the elected leadership of the ILWU. The ILWU belongs to its members and not to any outsider or group of outsiders. The members direct the Union and elect their leadership to promote their wishes, not the wants and desires of outsiders.

      The ILWU has done more for the dockside working man than any other group out there. It belongs to the members and the members alone. So back off with the insanity.

  • REPUBLIC says:

    ISIS Keep your blinder on and see the light in the end of the tunnel. Can you guess what it is? Tut, tut, chuga, chuga, chuga, tut, tut…

  • Deregistered19 says:

    Former Seattle longshoreman launches new YouTube channel to fight for justice in Local 19 and the ILWU in the Pacific Northwest Ports:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/deregistered19

    Please check out my videos and other information.