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Kicking Ass for the Working Class?
September 8, 2011 1:12 PM   Subscribe

Hundreds of angry longshoremen stormed through a grain shipping terminal in Longview, Wash., early Thursday and held security guards at bay while descending on a disputed train full of grain, cutting brake lines and dumping cargo. - Serious and sometimes violent direct action aimed at a new west coast shipping facility by a local union, supported by members from the Seattle area.
posted by Slap*Happy (405 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow at that picture.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:13 PM on September 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


From the article, it seems the port management demanded mandatory 12 hour shifts, without overtime, and other steep concessions, and then kicked the Longshoremen's union out for another, unaffiliated union who would play ball.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:15 PM on September 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


Wow at that picture.

I'm surprised a major national paper would print something that damning of the authorities. Most media coverage I've seen has been pretty anti-union.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:16 PM on September 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


I really hope hope hope that stories like this are just the beginnings of a new, legitimate labor movement in the US.

Wow at that picture

Indeed.
posted by furnace.heart at 1:17 PM on September 8, 2011 [20 favorites]


The Seattle Times is reporting that all WA ports are closed.

For some historical perspective, unionization or West coast ports followed the 83 day 1934 West Coast Longshoreman's Strike.
posted by donovan at 1:22 PM on September 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


I wonder if those cops are unionized.
posted by Ardiril at 1:23 PM on September 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm sure all the folks yelling "union thugs" in the comments on that page went to work this past Monday in protest!
posted by rollbiz at 1:24 PM on September 8, 2011 [43 favorites]


Most media coverage I've seen has been pretty anti-union.

Very much so. The only explanation the local news has been giving here in Portland for these protests was that another union was given the right to work this job, making it appear that these workers are acting like spoiled jerks.
posted by Glibpaxman at 1:25 PM on September 8, 2011


I really hope hope hope that stories like this are just the beginnings of a new, legitimate labor movement in the US.

Amen. A real renaissance that takes the best of it, re-tools for a new century and begins aggressively to fight back against the erosion of the Middle class and leaves the worst (the old dinosaur thinking, the arrogance, the political cronyism) behind.
posted by Skygazer at 1:26 PM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I really hope hope hope that stories like this are just the beginnings of a new, legitimate labor movement in the US.

I can't see how destroying others' property is so legitimate.
posted by knoyers at 1:27 PM on September 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


I wonder if those cops are unionized.

Looks like it.
posted by rollbiz at 1:27 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


A cop has to be pretty gentle if you can still yell at him with his hand on your throat.

I think the most telling photograph of this protest is on the Seattle Times front page:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/photogalleries/localnews2016144615/6.html
posted by Kakkerlak at 1:28 PM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wow, crazy. And yeah, holy hell, that picture.

And great - they organized it on their Facebook page. Yet another bit of fuel to add to the fire of "social media is a tool for terrorists!" rhetoric. Bleh.

I've always wondered what the logic behind attacks like this is, though. Serious property damage isn't exactly going to endear the union to employers. They're hardly going to welcome you back with open arms. So is it just revenge, then?
posted by antifuse at 1:29 PM on September 8, 2011


It's doubly frustrating that the International Union of Operating Engineers is encouraging its members to cross the picket line of another AFL affiliated union. That shouldn't be happening at all. This could have gone a lot differently with some communication and solidarity.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:31 PM on September 8, 2011 [33 favorites]


another union was given the right to work this job

The article linked here reports the same thing.

that these workers are acting like spoiled jerks

Pretty much sums it up.
posted by Ardiril at 1:31 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only explanation the local news has been giving here in Portland for these protests was that another union was given the right to work this job, making it appear that these workers are acting like spoiled jerks.

I mean isn't that what happened? I kind of want to support direct action like this, but this is just some intra-union bullshit -- and aren't longshoremen notorious for being connected to organized crime?
posted by empath at 1:31 PM on September 8, 2011


the beginnings of a new, legitimate labor movement in the US.

Somebody better buy up grainparty.org
posted by sswiller at 1:31 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


And also, I have ZERO understanding of US (or really, ANY, but US seems the most pertinent here) union/labour laws... If a company finds that a union is completely unwilling/unable to meet their demands, is the company required by law to keep negotiating with the union? Is it illegal for them to just dump the union entirely and bring in a bunch non-union workers?
posted by antifuse at 1:31 PM on September 8, 2011


Serious property damage isn't exactly going to endear the union to employers.

That's not the intent.
posted by rollbiz at 1:32 PM on September 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Rollbiz: did you read the rest of my post, where I asked what the intent WAS, then?
posted by antifuse at 1:33 PM on September 8, 2011



I've always wondered what the logic behind attacks like this is, though. Serious property damage isn't exactly going to endear the union to employers. They're hardly going to welcome you back with open arms. So is it just revenge, then?


The idea is to disrupt operations and cost the company money, and that hopefully with enough pressure they'll waver, and meet the demands of the workers. (Or at least begin negotiating again.)

Often each side shoves back until the government intervenes and forces them to the bargaining table or forces the workers back to work.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:33 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can't see how destroying others' property is so legitimate.

I basically can't see how treating workers like bitches, victims and de facto slaves with no dignity is and telling them the free market only works for the owners and that, it's their way or you and your family can fuck off and die, is legitimate.

While sitting on record profits, mind you.

Yessiree Bob, a new resurgent labor movement has got to happen, there's zero doubt about it.
posted by Skygazer at 1:33 PM on September 8, 2011 [104 favorites]


that these workers are acting like spoiled jerks

Pretty much sums it up.


Not wanting to work mandatory 12-hour shifts without overtime is being a spoiled jerk?
posted by kmz at 1:35 PM on September 8, 2011 [88 favorites]


No, destroying property.
posted by Ardiril at 1:35 PM on September 8, 2011


So is it just revenge, then?

Retaliation, looks like - the cops unloaded pepper-spray and nightsticks on them when they were being peaceful, and now they're at war. They'd rather the port be leveled than lose their union rights, and they are making this point clear.

I dunno if it's the right response, but I think it's at least a condemnation of paramilitary police mentality, and using riot-police tactics against unarmed and peaceful strikers.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:36 PM on September 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


Oh, I forgot. No one reads the fucking articles.
posted by Ardiril at 1:36 PM on September 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


and aren't longshoremen notorious for being connected to organized crime?

And they have yet to show me proof they don't beat their wives.
posted by Hoopo at 1:37 PM on September 8, 2011 [55 favorites]




that these workers are acting like spoiled jerks

Pretty much sums it up.


No.

From the article:

Tensions between the ILWU and EGT Development, the owner of the new train superterminal, have run hot for the past few months after contract negotiations broke down. EGT, which is jointly owned by Korean, Japanese and U.S. investors, contracted with International Union of Operating Engineers Local 701, based in Gladstone, Ore., to fill the 25 to 35 jobs at the terminal. But the Port of Longview has a contract for ILWU to do the work.

Negotiations broke down, and the employers decided to bring in outside workers to scab for the union. This is a power move on the part of the employer.

From the article again:

"The Longshoremen are fighting for good middle class jobs at the grain handling terminal," San Fililppo said.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:37 PM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I basically can't see how treating workers like bitches, victims and de facto slaves with no dignity is and telling them the free market only works for the owners and that, it's their way or you and your family can fuck off and die, is legitimate.

Well they didn't do that. They worked with another union who negotiated a contract that I assume both sides were happy with.

Unions are valuable because they allow a pool of workers to negotiate on a fair basis with corporations rather than one on one. It's a benefit to everyone involved, even if the corporations don't like it. But if one side is just going to commit extortion if they don't get what they want, that's just criminal behavior to me, especially when another union was perfectly happy to accept the contract.
posted by empath at 1:38 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


A cop has to be pretty gentle if you can still yell at him with his hand on your throat.

If a cop has his hand on your throat, he's threatening you with something that, if anyone else did it, would be a class B felony. He'd better fucking be gentle about it.
posted by hades at 1:40 PM on September 8, 2011 [29 favorites]


Negotiations broke down, and the employers decided to bring in outside workers to scab for the union. This is a power move on the part of the employer.

The longshoreman aren't striking. They were never hired. No one lost a job. They just walked in and demanded jobs on their terms and threatened to break their shit if they didn't get it. That's not negotiation, that's organized crime.
posted by empath at 1:40 PM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


...

This is going to sound dismissive, but that's not really how collective bargaining contracts work. If employers can just swap in another group of workers when negotiations break down with the first, you may as well not bother bargaining at all.

It's also worth pointing out that the longshoremen have a contract with the port of longview, which means that they ARE entitled to the work by more than just the contract with EGT.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:41 PM on September 8, 2011 [45 favorites]


People who rank the preservation of property rights ahead of the bigger social justice picture always make me think of Mark Twains A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's court.

Pretty much the defining characteristic of feudal/monarchical society as sent up by Twain in that book is its excessive preoccupation with protecting the property of landlords and aristocrats--which of course in those days included the serfs themselves.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:41 PM on September 8, 2011 [28 favorites]


The idea is to disrupt operations and cost the company money, and that hopefully with enough pressure they'll waver, and meet the demands of the workers. (Or at least begin negotiating again.)

But, if another union was already given the gig (as seems to be the case), again, I ask my question that I asked above: Was this a legal move by the company? Talks broke down, the company basically said "screw you guys, we're bringing in these other guys" (who also happen to be unionized). Was the company within its rights to do this? Are they obligated to keep negotiating with the old union? The old union claims they still have the "right" to work at the grain depot, do they have that right by law? Again, I'm legitimately asking this as somebody who has no idea how labo(u)r laws work in this regard.
posted by antifuse at 1:42 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


There will always be someone else perfectly happy to accept the job. That's precisely why we need unions (and OSHA, and minimum wage, etc.).
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:43 PM on September 8, 2011 [24 favorites]


There will always be someone else perfectly happy to accept the job. That's precisely why we need unions

I agree. And another union took the job. And I assume they negotiated a contract they thought was fair. Again, this is not scabbing.

I used to be in UCFW and I would have happily gone on strike if they had asked.
posted by empath at 1:44 PM on September 8, 2011


Rollbiz: did you read the rest of my post, where I asked what the intent WAS, then?

The intent, I would imagine, is to show the bosses that if they can act in bad faith towards their workers, the workers can give it right back.
posted by rollbiz at 1:46 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


The longshoreman would have had my support (even with the property damage), if:

A) They had actually had a contract and were working and were forced out or:
B) They were replaced with non-union workers.

As it is, this is just people who negotiated badly that are acting out violently. If anything, they should be breaking the offices of their negotiators who lost them the contract.
posted by empath at 1:46 PM on September 8, 2011


ILWU is one of my favorite unions EVAR! Seriously, those guys don't fuck around. :)
posted by symbioid at 1:47 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


And also, I have ZERO understanding of US (or really, ANY, but US seems the most pertinent here) union/labour laws... If a company finds that a union is completely unwilling/unable to meet their demands, is the company required by law to keep negotiating with the union? Is it illegal for them to just dump the union entirely and bring in a bunch non-union workers?

We dumped my union here at Large Entity because Large Entity absolutely required that union members take a 50% paycut, give up their health insurance and provide sexual services for management as requested, and the union unaccountably wouldn't cooperate. Luckily, if the bosses don't like the union, they're free to abolish it, thereby getting rid of the 20th century's entire gains in labor rights.

It's a good thing that this provision was recently established, because in the past few months every single unionized company has found that the union absolutely couldn't meet their needs. If we didn't have this provision, the whole economy would have shut down, thanks to union workers!
posted by Frowner at 1:47 PM on September 8, 2011 [23 favorites]


I probably shouldn't wade into these waters, as it's too close to home (not physically), so my rationality tends to go out the window. Nonetheless: laws protecting workers rights to organize have been systematically neutered, twisted, or eliminated for decades now. You may think "big labor" has a lot of clout, but the truth is, in the private sector, it's total horseshit. Employers have mostly destroyed the right to organize. And even when people are organized the laws generally favor employers to the point of absurdity. These people are destroying property for the same reason that the Harlan County miners took the law into their own hands: the law no longer respects their rights (actually it never did respect the miners rights). Yes, we've all heard horror stories about sweetheart contracts, etc. We also heard a lot of horror stories about welfare queens. Anyway, wish I had more time to comment, but I'll instead refer you to a book that's twenty-years-old this year and still as relevant as ever:

"Which Side Are You On?: Trying to Be for Labor When It's Flat on Its Back" by Thomas Geoghegan

It's probably out of print, but also probably available used on many websites.
posted by Jim Slade at 1:48 PM on September 8, 2011 [36 favorites]


I fully support this. The Port pushed and is getting pushed back. That is only fair.

This needs to happen more.

(Ten years ago, I'd have been less likely to condone the monkeywrenching. But the time for politeness is long gone.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:48 PM on September 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Also, longshoremen are, like, the pin-ups of the radical labor movement. What surfers were to Arthur Russell, so longshoremen are to them/us.
posted by Frowner at 1:49 PM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


The longshoreman would have had my support (even with the property damage), if:

A) They had actually had a contract and were working and were forced out or:


The longshoremen did have a contract, with the Port of Longview. EGT agreed to abide by that contract in its employment practices as a condition of its lease with the Port of Longview, but is now refusing to do so.
posted by enn at 1:49 PM on September 8, 2011 [37 favorites]


ugggh, this is NOT what the union movement needs at this moment...
posted by Theta States at 1:49 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I fully support this. The Port pushed and is getting pushed back.

And what about the other union?
posted by empath at 1:50 PM on September 8, 2011


they should be breaking the offices of their negotiators who lost them the contract

Did you miss the part where they still have a contract with the Port of Longview that stipulates that the ILWU will be hired to do the work? They haven't lost the contract; the replacement workers were hired in violation of it.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:50 PM on September 8, 2011 [29 favorites]


This seems to be getting ignored a lot:

"the Port of Longview has a contract for ILWU to do the work."
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:50 PM on September 8, 2011 [20 favorites]


And what about the other union?

Did they have a contract to work the Port of Longview before ILWU did?
posted by rollbiz at 1:52 PM on September 8, 2011


And what about the other union?

Very unfortunately, I'd say they are scabbing here.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:53 PM on September 8, 2011 [22 favorites]


And, empath, you're right that this article really does make it sound like inter-union bullshit, but I've been following this story for a while and it's not—EGT is using the Operating Engineers as a club to break the longshoremen's union at the port and to undercut the existing labor standards there. It's not just about which union is on the letterhead — it's a real question of what kind of working conditions and pay rates are going to prevail at the port.

I recommend Labor Notes's coverage.
posted by enn at 1:54 PM on September 8, 2011 [15 favorites]


Watch out guys! That union is trying to steal your cookie!
posted by Talez at 1:54 PM on September 8, 2011 [39 favorites]


This seems to be getting ignored a lot:

At least by one person, anyway. Who has mafia ties.
posted by Hoopo at 1:54 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unions -- if they are to be effective at all -- will stand with their striking brothers. My father was a union sheet metal worker, and if/when the sheet metal workers were striking, no other union tradesmen would cross those picket lines, and work on that project would stop, totally. Solidarity. Dogs may fight amongst themselves but they stand as one against the wolf. This other 'new and improved' union that is willing to scab, they're absolutely in bed with management, they are hardly looking out for Labor.
posted by dancestoblue at 1:55 PM on September 8, 2011 [33 favorites]


"the Port of Longview has a contract for ILWU to do the work."

That's not the case. EGT has a lease agreement (which I haven't read) which seems to be described as either requiring union workers or union longshoremen. EGT is fighting that in court. They don't have a contract with the union.
posted by empath at 1:57 PM on September 8, 2011


ctrl-f "frank sobotka"

I am disappoint, MeFi.

In all seriousness, I was hoping that violence would not be necessary in the struggle to retain the rights of the working class, but I am beginning to despair of that.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:57 PM on September 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Stagger Lee (and others): a few more links (that actually mention that ILWU has a contract with the port of Longview) would be helpful, as it is not in the OP's provided link.

I guess the question is: what does the contract between ILWU and the Port of Longview actually say? Or EGT's agreement with the Port of Longview?

Again, I'd love if somebody actually could provide any kind of background (Frowner's lovely sarcastic comment above notwithstanding) on laws surrounding scab workers to those of us who have no idea how this sort of thing works, legally.
posted by antifuse at 2:00 PM on September 8, 2011


That's not the case.

Are you saying the Seattle Times is lying?

EGT is fighting that in court.

If EGT didn't want to play by the rules of the Port of Longview, they shouldn't have signed the lease.
posted by kmz at 2:00 PM on September 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


You know who else may or may not have been in a union?
posted by blue_beetle at 2:01 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I disagree that this is "not scabbing". "The AFL-CIO board in Oregon and the Washington State Labor Council have condemned the operating engineers for taking the jobs" pretty much says it all: the whole point of unions is solidarity, and that counts between unions as well as within them. Hell, in many ways this is worse than plain ol' scabbing -- at least non-union scabs aren't violating a pledge.
posted by vorfeed at 2:02 PM on September 8, 2011 [22 favorites]


The ILWU isn't taking credit for this, according to the Seattle Times and PI.

My union struck a few years ago for nothing and got nothing. Granted, it's a far cry from the longshoreman, but plenty of people suffered for no good reason.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:02 PM on September 8, 2011


I have to say, the part that hurts the most to read is that another union would come in and completely undermine the protections provided to workers with collective bargaining. It confuses and infuriates me.

I'd love to read the agreement with the Port of Longview because there's not a lot of clarity about that in the article.
posted by Zophi at 2:03 PM on September 8, 2011




Stagger Lee (and others): a few more links (that actually mention that ILWU has a contract with the port of Longview) would be helpful, as it is not in the OP's provided link.


The Seattle Times link posted up thread explains the issue. I'd also caution against confusing the Longview Port and EGT, which people seem to be doing.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:04 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Regarding the mafia stuff, there is a big difference between the east coast longshoremen's union, the ILA, and the historically much more radical west coast longshoremen's union, the ILWU. The former are the Frank Sobotka guys, the latter are the guys striking here.
posted by enn at 2:04 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Workers' rights for some, Shawinigan handshakes for others!
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 2:04 PM on September 8, 2011


What we need here is zombie reanimated Harry Bridges.
posted by elizardbits at 2:04 PM on September 8, 2011


A lease agreement is a kind of contract.
posted by LogicalDash at 2:05 PM on September 8, 2011


Are you saying the Seattle Times is lying?

The Port has a contract with the longshoremen. I assume it specifies that any tenants have to also hire longshoremen. The Port has a lease agreement which enforces that. The longshormen don't have a contract with EGT and they are trying to nullify that part of the lease agreement in court. They will probably not be successful, but the way to fight that is to fight it in court, not by breaking shit.
posted by empath at 2:06 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


A lease agreement is a kind of contract.

It's not a labor contract.
posted by empath at 2:06 PM on September 8, 2011


I just don't understand the scab mentality. Sometimes people need to earn money no matter the circumstance.
posted by stormpooper at 2:06 PM on September 8, 2011


Wednesday: 400 Longshoremen block train, clash with 20 cops (the nightsticks-and-pepper-spray were deployed while retreating) and nineteen people were arrested in two incidents and charged with, let's see, third-degree misdemeanors. A trainful of grain dumped on the tracks.

Thursday Morning: Longshoremen storm port at 04:30, smash guard shack, take guards hostage, start sabotaging trains. No injuries, no arrests.

Thanks, enn, for the Labor Notes link. It's interesting to compare it with the News Tribune and the Seattle Times coverage of today's events.

Violence isn't necessary. But the Longshoremen sort of enjoy it, and they've got some time on their hands.
posted by Kakkerlak at 2:06 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


A bit more background:
Portland-based EGT is owned by St. Louis-based Bunge North America, Japan-based Itochu Corp. and Korean shipper Pan Ocean STX. Its principal owner, Bunge, reported a $2.5 billion profit for 2010.

In January, EGT sued the Port of Longview in federal court, arguing that the company was not bound by the port’s contract with ILWU local 21 to hire union labor for all longshore work on its 38-acre leased site. EGT attorneys said union labor would increase their annual costs of operating the elevator by $1 million.

In a response filed July 5, Port of Longview attorneys asked a federal judge to order EGT to honor its lease agreement and hire Local 21 labor. During two years of negotiations, EGT tried at least twice to get out of that requirement but ultimately agreed with it, port attorneys argued.

The case isn’t expected to be decided until next year, but the conflict could continue to fester if EGT holds to its plan to hire non-union labor when it opens the terminal this summer or early fall.
posted by notyou at 2:06 PM on September 8, 2011 [17 favorites]


I basically can't see how treating workers like bitches, victims and de facto slaves with no dignity is and telling them the free market only works for the owners and that, it's their way or you and your family can fuck off and die, is legitimate.

While sitting on record profits, mind you.


Of course the free market works for owners. Life being perpetually unfair does not excuse vandalism, or any other crime.

Practically, I doubt that this behavior will be in any way helpful for this union in the long term.
posted by knoyers at 2:07 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gee, sweet. Organized violence, organized destruction, and organized anarchy in the name of some inchoate sense of entitlement. Anyone who feels political sympathy for their perspective or identity should celebrate them for this, right?
posted by foursentences at 2:08 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, I'm trying and failing to come up with a reasonable explanation for that photo. As it stands, that's a pretty damning indictment the police and the way they are interacting with protesters.
posted by quin at 2:08 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


My union struck a few years ago for nothing and got nothing. Granted, it's a far cry from the longshoreman, but plenty of people suffered for no good reason.

The WGA strike was for very good reasons. But they caved too soon.
posted by kmz at 2:09 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


laws protecting workers rights to organize have been systematically neutered, twisted, or eliminated

Those laws also protected employers. They prevented wildcat strikes, for example. Rolling the laws back to the 1920s is shortsighted even from their point of view (unless they believe that strikebreaking goons are more effective now than then).


or any other crime


Thank goodness the laws are uniformly just!
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:09 PM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Negotiations broke down, and the employers decided to bring in outside workers to scab for the union. This is a power move on the part of the employer.

I have always found it really, really hard to get with the union movement because of the term 'scab.' It really doesn't seem any different from a term like 'thug,' and serves solely to debase and dehumanize one's opponent. The term is usually framed as part of a moral argument, but that argument depends on the premise that the union calling out others as scabs is right by default, and the other workers (or the other union) is evil. I've seen the same thing in the long-running SEIU-NUHW bitchfest that's been going on here in Northern California. I'm not saying that the protesting union members don't have a legitimate grievance, but I tend to automatically discount such conformist and aggressive language whose sole apparent purpose is to intimidate.

tl;dr you're not selling it to me by calling other unionized workers 'scabs.' Probably not to any other neutral observers either.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:10 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The WGA strike was for very good reasons. But they caved too soon.

Stephen Aboutman of the World Canadian Bureau would disagree!
posted by Talez at 2:11 PM on September 8, 2011


Thank goodness the laws are uniformly just!

There doesn't seem to be any serious doubt about laws against unlawful imprisonment, trespass, and vandalism being just.
posted by Jahaza at 2:12 PM on September 8, 2011


That's not the case. EGT has a lease agreement (which I haven't read) which seems to be described as either requiring union workers or union longshoremen.

There's a bit of info about it here, and it's pretty clear that the union is specifically mentioned in the lease agreement. From the WSJ:

"The union, which has worked the Longview docks since 1934, maintains the local's jurisdiction is stipulated in EGT's lease with the Port of Longview, and the company should not be able to operate there unless it negotiates wages and work rules with the local.

EGT, a joint venture of a Bunge Ltd. unit, Itochu International Inc. of Japan and STX Pan Ocean Co. of South Korea, disputes that view. Larry Clarke, its president and chief executive, said the Port of Longview's relationship with the union was purposely left vague in the terms of the lease.

"The lease between the Port of Longview and EGT merely references the existence of the working agreement, but does not incorporate it into the lease," Mr. Clarke said Wednesday. "In fact, language incorporating the working agreement into the lease was expressly stricken by EGT and was not included in the final, binding version of the lease," he said.
"

So EGT knows of an existing agreement and acknowledges it is circumventing it. These are weasel words. This is blatantly undermining organized labour. EGT's workers are scabs.
posted by Hoopo at 2:12 PM on September 8, 2011 [15 favorites]


Life being perpetually unfair does not excuse vandalism, or any other crime.
Rosa Parks, MLK, Gandhi, Jesus, and a few others might disagree with that last bit.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:13 PM on September 8, 2011 [50 favorites]


Wow, I'm trying and failing to come up with a reasonable explanation for that photo. As it stands, that's a pretty damning indictment the police and the way they are interacting with protesters.

The protesters outnumber the police, and have been throwing rocks at the police, and have been using bear spray on the police.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:14 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's some more background. Summary:
To sum up: a taxpayer-subsidized international conglomerate, which is operating on public property, is suing the public so it can avoid paying the area’s standard wages and undercut its competitors that do. Then, it exacerbated tensions with the local labor community by importing union workers from another jurisdiction to cross the picket lines.
posted by hades at 2:15 PM on September 8, 2011 [42 favorites]


There doesn't seem to be any serious doubt about laws against unlawful imprisonment, trespass, and vandalism being just.

Is that a joke? Have you heard the phrase "sit-in" before?
posted by enn at 2:15 PM on September 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


A cop has to be pretty gentle if you can still yell at him with his hand on your throat.

Yes, I'm sure you'd love it if the police oh so gently caressed your throat.

The protesters outnumber the police, and have been throwing rocks at the police, and have been using bear spray on the police.

So prosecute someone. This is battery.

There is always someone willing to polish police knob around here, that's for sure.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:17 PM on September 8, 2011 [24 favorites]


tl;dr you're not selling it to me by calling other unionized workers 'scabs.' Probably not to any other neutral observers either.

I understand why they do it. You absolutely can't accomplish anything with a labor movement unless you have total solidarity between all workers --- union members and non-members alike, but really the only way to get that kind of solidarity is if things are really bad. And we just aren't in the 19th century. Things are still pretty good for most workers, even non-union ones, largely because unions were successful in getting a lot of protections written into law.

And you're not going to bully people on the sidelines into supporting you by calling them names or threatening them with violence these days. It's really off-putting.
posted by empath at 2:18 PM on September 8, 2011


I have always found it really, really hard to get with the union movement because of the term 'scab.'

Kind of a hateful word to be used on MetaFilter
posted by KokuRyu at 2:18 PM on September 8, 2011


Kind of a hateful word to be used on MetaFilter

"Scab" is more akin to words like "bigot", "racist", "asshole", etc than racist/sexist/etc epithets.
posted by kmz at 2:20 PM on September 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


the term 'scab.' It really doesn't seem any different from a term like 'thug'... The term is usually framed as part of a moral argument

Scabs are people who are willing to defect in a prisoner's dilemma. That's why it's considered immoral, and why it merits a nasty name.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:21 PM on September 8, 2011 [33 favorites]


Life being perpetually unfair does not excuse vandalism, or any other crime.

What in the hell? Of course it does. Some of the most celebrated and defining moments in Ahistory involved property damage. Do you think you're living in a democracy with the rights you have because things just sort of conveniently fell into place? People had to fight to get this far. The fight is not over yet.
posted by Hoopo at 2:22 PM on September 8, 2011 [50 favorites]



tl;dr you're not selling it to me by calling other unionized workers 'scabs.' Probably not to any other neutral observers either.


I'm not sure what you'd like to call them. There's a clumsy dictionary definition, but no other word comes to mind with that specific meaning.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:23 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Scabs are people who are willing to defect in a prisoner's dilemma. That's why it's considered immoral, and why it merits a nasty name.

The word you want is 'self-defeating', not 'immoral'.
posted by empath at 2:23 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow at that picture.

No hands up. No threat. Not good.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:24 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Kind of a hateful word to be used on MetaFilter

Totally. We should also ban the use of words like oppression, police brutality, and corporate power grab, because they are totally filled with hate.
posted by overglow at 2:25 PM on September 8, 2011 [23 favorites]


It's not self defeating, it clearly is the selfish rational choice.
posted by Zalzidrax at 2:25 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Life being perpetually unfair does not excuse vandalism, or any other crime.

Damn those Sons of Liberty, destroying all that valuable tea!
posted by kmz at 2:29 PM on September 8, 2011 [22 favorites]


It's not self defeating, it clearly is the selfish rational choice.

In a classic prisoner's dilemma both prisoners benefit from not defecting, so defecting would harm your outcome directly vs the alternative, assuming the other prisoner didn't defect. The only reason you would ever defect is if you didn't trust the other prisoner not to.

This isn't a classic prisoner's dilemma, though, because the unions were free to talk to each other and collaborate, and apparently they didn't. Whose fault that is, I don't know.

In the long term, unions taking each other's contracts is bad for all unions, because it would be a race for the bottom. It's only the rational, selfish choice if it looked like the jobs were going to go to non-union workers if you didn't take the contract.
posted by empath at 2:30 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I do not understand how people are supporting the ILUW here. They lost the contract to another union, and now they're breaking shit and fighting about it? Their right to collectively bargain has not been infringed, they just happen to have bargained less effectively than another group in getting the contract. These other guys being called "scabs" are just members of the other labor collective that managed to win the contract.
posted by Aizkolari at 2:30 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


They lost the contract to another union

No.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 2:34 PM on September 8, 2011 [26 favorites]


I do not understand how people are supporting the ILUW here. They lost the contract to another union, and now they're breaking shit and fighting about it? Their right to collectively bargain has not been infringed, they just happen to have bargained less effectively than another group in getting the contract. These other guys being called "scabs" are just members of the other labor collective that managed to win the contract.

You haven't read the thread at all, have you? The ILUW has a contract with the Port of Longview. If EGT wants to use the Port of Longview, they have to use ILUW.

In a classic prisoner's dilemma both prisoners benefit from not defecting, so defecting would harm your outcome directly vs the alternative, assuming the other prisoner didn't defect. The only reason you would ever defect is if you didn't trust the other prisoner not to.

What? That's not how prisoner's dilemma works at all. In regular prisoner's dilemma, the traitor gets the most benefit, two traitors both gets the worst outcome, and both staying true gets a medium result for both.
posted by kmz at 2:37 PM on September 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


they just happen to have bargained less effectively than another group in getting the contract


Remember, a union is not a commercial entity, but a political one. It's not in the business of marketing it's members to prospective clients like a staffing firm. It's in the business of guaranteeing its members' rights against management.

Also, the other union seems dubious in its mission and efficacy - selling out the "Eight for home, eight for sleep, eight for work" labor principle and involving itself in another union's labor dispute is pretty suspect. It may simply be a front for management interest.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:37 PM on September 8, 2011 [21 favorites]



The Port has a contract with the longshoremen. I assume it specifies that any tenants have to also hire longshoremen. The Port has a lease agreement which enforces that. The longshormen don't have a contract with EGT and they are trying to nullify that part of the lease agreement in court. They will probably not be successful, but the way to fight that is to fight it in court, not by breaking shit.
posted by empath at 2:06 PM on September 8 [1 favorite +] [!]


This got ignored, but it's worth addressing. Technically, you're right, it should be settled in court. However, actually waiting on a court resolution complicates matters. EGT would continue business as usual while waiting for a settlement, meanwhile they'd have a shop full of IOEU workers to handle labor. The Longshoremen would not have jobs or paycheques.

It's much easier for EGT to wait out a settlement than it is for the Longshoremen, even if that year of continued operations doesn't tilt the outcome of the court settlement. They have mortgages and families and stuff, and even with a strike fund they almost certainly can't afford to wait that long.

It also assumes that you have trust in the court to deal with this in a fair, impartial manner. The courts haven't been great at supporting labor unions lately, and I can understand wanting to take a more... *cough* democratic, approach.

I think that you'd find that the Longshoremen would be much more willing to wait on a court settlement if they were at working during that period, not sitting at home watching IOEU work their jobs for EGT.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:38 PM on September 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


You're missing some details, Aizkolari; scroll back.

In particular, follow empath's course through the thread, which begins with the point you raise and evolves to the more recent "a dispute over lease terms does not justify this type of labor action."
posted by notyou at 2:39 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


the only way to get that kind of solidarity is if things are really bad. And we just aren't in the 19th century. Things are still pretty good for most workers, even non-union ones,.

Geez. Where do you work? I think I'd like to live there...
posted by Jon_Evil at 2:40 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rosa Parks, MLK, Gandhi, Jesus, and a few others might disagree with that last bit.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:13 PM on September 8


Well Jesus didn't get away with it

What in the hell? Of course it does. Some of the most celebrated and defining moments in Ahistory involved property damage. Do you think you're living in a democracy with the rights you have because things just sort of conveniently fell into place? People had to fight to get this far. The fight is not over yet.
posted by Hoopo at 2:22 PM on September 8


There is a big difference between the "celebrated and defining moments" and this useless criminal intimidation and vandalism, which will benefit neither this particular union nor labor as a cause. The comparison demeans those who really died or suffered in order to advance causes that mattered.

Damn those Sons of Liberty, destroying all that valuable tea!
posted by kmz at 2:29 PM on September 8


The outcome doesn't mean that it wasn't a crime.

In this instance, I doubt the outcome will be much of a defense.
posted by knoyers at 2:40 PM on September 8, 2011


Btw, I'm curious how many people here so in support of the ILWU have ever actually been in a union. I've been in two. My dad worked a union job his whole life, and was even a union steward for a few years. I was even in the same union as him for a while. I happily paid my dues and would have been right on the picket line if I were ever asked. Hell I'd even have picketed for the Teamsters if they went on strike and UFCW went with them. But there's no chance I'd have trashed the stores or the warehouses.

What? That's not how prisoner's dilemma works at all. In regular prisoner's dilemma, the traitor gets the most benefit, two traitors both gets the worst outcome, and both staying true gets a medium result for both.

Yeah, you're right, i had the matrix mixed up.
posted by empath at 2:42 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]




There is a big difference between the "celebrated and defining moments" and this useless criminal intimidation and vandalism, which will benefit neither this particular union nor labor as a cause. The comparison demeans those who really died or suffered in order to advance causes that mattered.


Like people that have been shot on picket lines? Or the Haymarket Martyrs? :) Seriously. Historical perspective could be handy here. We came into the 20th century kicking and screaming, and I don't think I'd enjoy a 19th century industrial job.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:43 PM on September 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


They will probably not be successful, but the way to fight that is to fight it in court, not by breaking shit.

Even NFL players couldn't afford to wait for court, the system is kind of messed up like that.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:44 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]



Btw, I'm curious how many people here so in support of the ILWU have ever actually been in a union.


I'm in one now, and held an IWW membership for a long time on top of it. But that's sort of rhetorical, I supported these causes long before I nailed down a union job, and I have plenty of issues with trade unionism in its current incarnation. Honestly, this entire issue should have already demonstrated how different two unions can be.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:45 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If capital will not respect labour, then capital must be made to fear labour.
posted by No Robots at 2:45 PM on September 8, 2011 [45 favorites]


The comparison demeans those who really died or suffered in order to advance causes that mattered.

It sounds like you're saying workers being treated fairly and the right to not have you bosses lie to you and lead you on is a cause that doesn't matter.
posted by Jon_Evil at 2:45 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


And we just aren't in the 19th century. Things are still pretty good for most workers, even non-union ones,. Geez. Where do you work? I think I'd like to live there..

The US. Where we have a whole bunch of worker protection laws. Even when I was working at KFC, I was guaranteed minimum wage and a lunch break and time off, etc..
posted by empath at 2:45 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


You haven't read the thread at all, have you? The ILUW has a contract with the Port of Longview. If EGT wants to use the Port of Longview, they have to use ILUW.

Yeah but they're fighting, vandalizing, and using harsh words. They should just be sulking about it quietly or they'll alienate the American right wing.


The comparison demeans those who really died or suffered in order to advance causes that mattered.


collective bargaining doesn't matter?
posted by Hoopo at 2:45 PM on September 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


They will probably not be successful, but the way to fight that is to fight it in court, not by breaking shit.

Even NFL players couldn't afford to wait for court, the system is kind of messed up like that.


the NFL player's union decertified and filed in court. The only reason they didn't vote was because the season was going to start.

The violence will be an issue before the NLRB. It will not help the longshoreman's union at all. But I think everyone knows that.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:46 PM on September 8, 2011


Kakkerlak writes "I think the most telling photograph of this protest is on the Seattle Times front page:

"http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/photogalleries/localnews2016144615/6.html"


WTF? Is that cop holding a paintball gun?

antifuse writes "Serious property damage isn't exactly going to endear the union to employers. They're hardly going to welcome you back with open arms."

EGT is never going to welcome the ILWU.

empath writes "They worked with another union who negotiated a contract that I assume both sides were happy with. "

It's worth noting that not all unions are created equal. Many are essentially extensions of management (not to say that is the case with the International Union of Operating Engineers) with the needs of management as priority one. Their only function is to act as an impairment to other unions who would seek to organize workers at that location. If the IUOE agreed to uncompensated 12 hour shifts for manual labour then it points to them being a weak at best union and likely a company union.
posted by Mitheral at 2:46 PM on September 8, 2011 [19 favorites]


These other guys being called "scabs" are just members of the other labor collective

True. I give up. A whole union's gone scab here, accepting poorer conditions to take jobs from another union's members. Why complain about pro-management laws if even union leaders no longer care about solidarity?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:47 PM on September 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


The paintball gun probably has pepper spray paintballs (or whatever you want to call them) in it. I've seen this showing up on MSNBC's Lockup and similar venues.
posted by feloniousmonk at 2:49 PM on September 8, 2011


What in the hell? Of course it does. Some of the most celebrated and defining moments in Ahistory involved property damage. Do you think you're living in a democracy with the rights you have because things just sort of conveniently fell into place? People had to fight to get this far. The fight is not over yet.

Hoopo, I wish I could favourite your comment a million times over. It warms my heart to see workers with the balls for this kind of direct action.
posted by Roachbeard at 2:49 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


So EGT knows of an existing agreement and acknowledges it is circumventing it. These are weasel words. This is blatantly undermining organized labour. EGT's workers are scabs.

Well, it's a bit more complicated than that. In the meantime, I've looked up the case documents, but am not sure if I feel like paying $$ to download them all. In a nutshell, EGT was considering setting up a grain terminal, but wanted tobe able to negotiate its own deal with employees instead of having the port negotiate on its behalf. After a good deal of back-and-forth between EGT and the Port, the port (seemingly) agreed to this as a condition of the lease. EGT were happy with this deal, and proceeded to build the terminal and negotiate its own contract with the operator's union.

The relevant term in the lease reads:
Lessor [the Port] warrants that there are no agreements or restrictions affecting the Port, whether Lessor is a party to the same or otherwise, requiring union labor or prevailing wage compliance (a) in connection with the construction of the Lessee Projects or other Improvements on or about the Premises, or (b) except only as expressly set forth on Exhibit G-2 hereto, in connection with the operation of the Ship Dock and the Barge Dock, the handling of cargo at the Facility and the operation of the Facility.
Exhibit G-2 is the agreement between the Port and the ILWU, which I have not looked at yet.

ILWU thought they were locked in to do the actual shipping operations and were upset to find that the port had granted this lease condition. Their dispute would appear to be with the port rather than EGT as such, and they may hold this view themselves because while both they and the Port oppose EGT's legal position, the union asked the Court to join the action as a separate party, which has been granted.

I don't see that EGT is circumventing the labor agreement, necessarily; it is their belief that they have secured the right to negotiate their own agreements as a condition of their lease, and the lease terms arguably reflect that.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:50 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Rosa Parks, MLK, Gandhi, Jesus, and a few others might disagree with that last bit.

Well when the union members are being accused of breaking laws against segregated busses, holding protest marches, making salt, and calling yourself the Son of God while healing people on the sabbath, we can all agree that they're right to break the laws.
posted by Jahaza at 2:51 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


imposing segregated busses rather
posted by Jahaza at 2:51 PM on September 8, 2011


Even NFL players couldn't afford to wait for court, the system is kind of messed up like that.

the NFL player's union decertified and filed in court. The only reason they didn't vote was because the season was going to start.


I'm not sure what your point is, what I'm saying is that they could not afford to wait for the court to decide their case which is why they signed the new CBA. As I understand it they had a pretty good chance in court otherwise.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:52 PM on September 8, 2011


Expect this sort of action to be described with increasing frequency as "economic terrorism".
posted by darth_tedious at 2:54 PM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Exhibit G-2 is the agreement between the Port and the ILWU, which I have not looked at yet.

It would also happen to be the only relevant part, because they are not fighting over the right to build or improve the facility.
posted by Hoopo at 2:55 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Read your excerpt again, anigbrowl. The stuff after (b) means EGT is locked in to the Port's labor agreement w/r/t to operating the terminal and handling cargo and etc.
posted by notyou at 3:00 PM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Even NFL players couldn't afford to wait for court, the system is kind of messed up like that.

That's funny, because the court allowed the ILWU to join the suit as co-defendants of the port on July 18 (to EGT's chagrin), and they've already filed an answer to the complaint (which I find technically interesting but only because I'm studying law). As best I can make out, this outburst of violence follows the submission to the court by EGT of an affidavit showing that they negotiated in good faith and had reason to believe they were in the clear.

I'm popping out for coffee and have one or two errands to perform, so I may not be able to follow up for a few hours. If anyone else wants to dig into the documents, it's case# 11-cv-05036-RBL in USDC-WDWA, EGT v. Port of Longview, Lexis 77723.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:03 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the NFL was in the process too, but how long until it resolves and people can get paid again?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:07 PM on September 8, 2011


I can confirm that nothing is coming or going from the Port of Seattle (gate camera) or the Port of Tacoma (gate camera) today, because the longshoremen did not show up for work. The general consensus seems to be that the work stoppage will only last a day, maybe two, but nobody knows for sure.

It's been a big fucking inconvenience for the trade community to be sure, so much so that I haven't had any time to really get my head around it and form an opinion. It is nice to see the different viewpoints expressed here, whether or not I agree with them, because from where I'm sitting the prevailing line of thinking seems to be that those assholes just need to get back to work.
posted by Balonious Assault at 3:08 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It would also happen to be the only relevant part, because they are not fighting over the right to build or improve the facility.

Read your excerpt again, anigbrowl. The stuff after (b) means EGT is locked in to the Port's labor agreement w/r/t to operating the terminal and handling cargo and etc.


I know what I says. I haven't looked at it yet because it takes time to match the exhibit name to the docket number, costs money to download and view the documents (so I look for a copy from a free source first), and there is a yawning gap between the first motion being filed and a determination on the merits.

If you don't like my incomplete, post-stuff-as-I-find-it coverage of the legal dispute, then you can do your own research. PACER will let you view up to $10 worth of documents for free per quarter and there's a $2.40 cap on any individual document, so between a few of you you should be able to pull down all the filings on the docket and share them for free, which is perfectly legal from a copyright standpoint because they are in the public domain and PACER is charging only to cover the electronic hosting and distribution costs. Have at it.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:10 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The US. Where we have a whole bunch of worker protection laws.

At this moment, yes. In another few years?
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:11 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


First, the terminology. Scab is supposed to be offensive. A person taking a contracted worker's place is a scab. Just like head-bangers that work for management are called goons - that's intended to be offensive, also. They are specific words with specific meanings and have a long history in the Labor Movement. I side with George Carlin: "There are no bad words. Bad thoughts and bad intentions, yes. But no bad words."

Second, I think that people who are so quick to jump on these workers' actions don't have a real understanding of what labor unions went through for the first 30 years of last century, and the absolute shit they've been dealt for the last 30 years. People died in the streets to give workers a leg up in this economy. They literally built the middle class that powered this country. Please and thank you just don't fucking work these days. This is important and I bet we see more of this before the table tilts again.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:15 PM on September 8, 2011 [30 favorites]


Well when the union members are being accused of breaking laws against segregated busses, holding protest marches, making salt...we can all agree that they're right to break the laws.

MLK's Birmingham march was not about defending the right to protest. The Salt Satyagraha was not ultimately about making salt. Both were protesting grotesquely unfair social conditions. The question is how unfair things have to get before lawbreaking is justifiable. No bloody revolution over a one cent hike in the price of stamps.

A two-part standard:
- procedural and/or substantive injustice above a high threshold
- a lack of legal recourse

Here? Since the legal system seems to be doing a reasonably good job of resolving the contract issue in a timely way, it's hard to see how lawbreaking is necessary.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:19 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It warms my heart to see workers with the balls for this kind of direct action.

One cannot help but be slightly cynical, considering how the longshoremen in Vancouver (BC) collaborate with organized crime (notably Hells Angels) to import drugs into North America.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:19 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


One cannot help but be slightly cynical, considering how the longshoremen in Vancouver (BC) collaborate with organized crime (notably Hells Angels) to import drugs into North America.

Agreed, but, anyway you cut it, they are still pikers compared to most multinational corporations.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:23 PM on September 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Meanwhile, robotics makers are striving to get cost effective automation on the market to put longshoremen and other similar labor jobs out of business permanently.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 3:26 PM on September 8, 2011


The most striking change I've noticed since 2008 is just how little disregard there is now (especially by Americans) for the traditional cornerstones and civil society. Given all that has happened over the past decade, it's understandable, but also frightening.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:26 PM on September 8, 2011


Wish I could get over the bad taste working with the Boilermakers in the shipyard left in my mouth. Those guys would fight like hell to make sure nothing there improved. By that I mean the most useless (but most senior) guys didn't leave until they croaked, and it wasn't possible to hire anyone outside of the union, while the union was doing no training itself in the area where help was needed. I feel like cheering for the Longview guys but man. Maybe it's just a matter of saying the alternative is worse.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 3:26 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have at it

Uh, no? anigbrowl, I am actually glad you are posting and reading those documents, it's a very welcome addition to the thread because I was going on a number of articles and certain others are going on not much more than prejudicial attitudes against unions. But what you posted does not seem to imply--as you said it did--that EGT is not circumventing an existing agreement for the operations of the facility. It says they were free to choose their own contractors to build and improve the facility.
posted by Hoopo at 3:31 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is this one of those "every side in this is fucked up" things? Because it seems it.
posted by curious nu at 3:32 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


The most striking change I've noticed since 2008 is just how little disregard there is now (especially by Americans) for the traditional cornerstones and civil society. Given all that has happened over the past decade, it's understandable, but also frightening.

I'm curious what those cornerstones are, because a lot of what was considered necessary for a civil society 50 years ago have been systematically destroyed, as far as I can tell.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:33 PM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


So much worship of your ruling class corporations and management in this thread. A hint guys: They laugh at you when your backs are turned.
posted by maxwelton at 3:39 PM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


So much worship of your ruling class corporations and management in this thread. A hint guys: They laugh at you when your backs are turned.

Did you intend to make an argument here or were you just being smug?
posted by empath at 3:41 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good for the ILWU. There sure as hell isn't anyone else in the entire country fighting this hard for labor rights. Every protection workers in this country enjoy was won by the sweat and the blood of guys willing to act directly, just like these fine folks.

Am I completely comfortable with everything they do? No, I am not. But I don't have to be comfortable to recognize the necessity of it. The other guys have shown themselves to be more than willing to fight dirty, after all.
posted by KathrynT at 3:44 PM on September 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


Well, if the cops are indeed unionized, taser away.
posted by Ardiril at 3:47 PM on September 8, 2011


Labor has to persuade our venal, corporate-sponsored politicians that they are more to be feared and embraced than the corporate lawyer muttering about lawsuits or the corporate lobbyist sitting across from the Congressman at a fundraiser. Until that happens labor will continue to wither and die.

When the police become the instrument of the powerful to maintain the corrupt and injust status quo they no longer have any legitimacy.

Labor has to stop playing to survive and play to win.
posted by MasonDixon at 3:50 PM on September 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Well, if the cops are indeed unionized, taser away.

Yeah, nothin' like a good bum fight, eh?
posted by No Robots at 3:51 PM on September 8, 2011


I'm curious what those cornerstones are, because a lot of what was considered necessary for a civil society 50 years ago have been systematically destroyed, as far as I can tell.

That was kind of my point. The level of hostility and quasi-Marxist rhetoric has really amped up on MetaFilter over the past year or so.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:07 PM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm currently downloading and OCR-ing the lease between EGT and the Port of Longview, so if you're thinking about spending the $5 at PACER, hold off a few minutes.
posted by hades at 4:10 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


>>the longshoremen in Vancouver (BC) collaborate with organized crime (notably Hells Angels) to import drugs into North America.

I have heard this idea in a general way, but I also have a close friend who is a foreman of longshoremen in Vancouver, who has shown no inclination to work with Hell's Angels. I'd be interested in seeing some support for the assertion that my friend is involved in organized crime (my first google search did not turn up anything of this kind).
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 4:11 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Did you intend to make an argument here or were you just being smug?

Oh, the latter, surely.

But consider: the courts and legislatures of modern America do nothing but sing hosannas to Big Business and Big Money. There is no level playing field there. All you need is a room full of lawyers and endless discovery motions and before you know it, it's three years without work and your union is broke.

Also consider: the corporation behind this polite and upstanding union-busting could, without endangering their business one-fucking-whit, spend $2B a year indefinitely fighting in court and still have $500M a year to spread among their upper management for gold-plated latrines or whatever it is they do with that kind of cash. There is no way to fight those people in court because these kind of lawsuits are a battle of attrition, the soldiers being dollars.

When you're working class, being out of work for three years will kill you now and continue killing you for the rest of your life. A lot of dreams go permanently away, including hoping your kid gets a better start in life than you had.

But lord help us if a grain car gets overturned.
posted by maxwelton at 4:24 PM on September 8, 2011 [51 favorites]


okay i was wrong (mp3)
posted by KokuRyu at 4:29 PM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm currently downloading and OCR-ing the lease between EGT and the Port of Longview, so if you're thinking about spending the $5 at PACER, hold off a few minutes.

As you probably know, there are multiple drafts of same. I lifted that extract from the July 18th order (docket # 24), and the canonical version is attachment 1 to the original complaint. I haven't found a copy of the full 'Working agreement' between the ILWU and the Port yet, but I just got back in and still have other things to do for a bit.

I might note for those dismissing the legal process that the ILWU agrees that a controversy exists over the interpretation of the lease (but asserts that it should have been settled by the arbitration process set out in the Working Agreement), and that the trial is currently scheduled for April 2012.

posted by anigbrowl at 4:30 PM on September 8, 2011


Separate out the issues here, people:

EGT entered into a lease with the Port of Longview.

The lease required that EGT hired ILWU to do [the longshoring work on the leased property].

EGT hired a different union, in breach of the lease.

So, the obvious remedy for EGT breaching the lease is for ILWU to go to court to enforce the lease provision.

Instead, ILWU riots and:

(1) destroys stuff (property and fittings) belonging to the lessor (the Port of Longview), who appears to have acted in the interests of the ILWU by including the clause in the lease requiring the lessee to hire the ILWU,

(2) destroys stuff (grain shipment) belong to an unnamed client of EGT, that has absolutely nothing to do with this dispute.

Have EGT acted like arseholes? Yes! But ILWU had a lawful peaceful option, and an unlawful violent option, and they took the latter. They acted like arseholes too.

What is the point of collective power, and union dues...etc., if you don't use them for things like court action to enforce your rights? Isn't that the whole point of a union - to create an institutional power that acts in the interests of the workers, so they can play on a level playing field with the employers? If so, then you actually have to PLAY ON THE FIELD, rather than just riot on the streets before the match.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:31 PM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


The point is to collectively bargain and ensure that management doesn't create inhumane working conditions. The courts are just one tool for accomplishing this, and not necessarily the best one in all circumstances.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:35 PM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


The level of hostility and quasi-Marxist rhetoric has really amped up on MetaFilter over the past year or so.

That's bound to happen given the massive outpouring of public funds towards bankers and wars in the last few years. It makes it harder to swallow the anti-union, anti-collective bargaining, pro-business stance increasingly being adopted by governments when they're also telling you you're going to be picking up their friends tabs.
posted by Hoopo at 4:36 PM on September 8, 2011 [24 favorites]


The level of hostility and quasi-Marxist rhetoric has really amped up on MetaFilter over the past year or so.

Yeah, and look at modern Marxism, and what those goddam Red Commies have done once the people seized the means of production.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:42 PM on September 8, 2011


Exhibit G-2 in the lease is as follows:
EXHIBIT G-2

LABOR MATTERS

Lessor expressly refers Lessee to the provisions of the Working Agreement between the ILWU Local 21 and the Port, dated 1999-2002, as extended through the date of this Lease, for Longview, Washington.
Original source is here: part 1, part 2. Those are attachments 1 and 2 of document 16 in 3:11-cv-05036-RBL, EGT, LLC v. Port of Longview.

Other documents:

+ 1-0: Complaint
+ 1-1: The lease as attached to the complaint
+ 1-2: The letter from the Port to EGT
posted by hades at 4:46 PM on September 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


There is a big difference between the "celebrated and defining moments" and this useless criminal intimidation and vandalism,

The only difference is time and who writes the history books.

You can bet the Boston Tea Party was written up all over the place as "useless criminal ... vandalism" and that people were telling Rosa Parks to get over herself and just move already, so they could get home to dinner and their kids.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:47 PM on September 8, 2011 [30 favorites]


So what the complaint hinges on (I say as someone with no legal experience) is whether
there are no agreements or restrictions affecting the Port, whether Lessor is a party to the same or otherwise, requiring union labor or prevailing wage compliance [...] except only as expressly set forth on Exhibit G-2 hereto [(the working agreement between ILWU Local 21 and the Port)], in connection with the operation of the Ship Dock and the Barge Dock, the handling of cargo at the Facility and the operation of the Facility.
constitutes a requirement that EGT use union labor in the operation of the facility, specifically ILWU Local 21 labor.
posted by hades at 4:49 PM on September 8, 2011


Well when the union members are being accused of breaking laws against segregated busses, holding protest marches, making salt...we can all agree that they're right to break the laws.

So only those particular instruments of oppression that you disapprove of merit action. Under the others, we should just shut up and take it.
posted by klanawa at 4:54 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, basically we'd still need to see the "Working Agreement between the ILWU
Local 21 arid the Port, dated 1999-2002, as extended through the date of this Lease", then?
posted by Hoopo at 4:56 PM on September 8, 2011


Well, Exhibit G-2 is pretty explicit, isn't it? IANAL, but it seems to make the ILWU part of the deal.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:56 PM on September 8, 2011


BTW thanks again for the docs anigbrowl.
posted by Hoopo at 5:00 PM on September 8, 2011


Yeah, and look at modern Marxism, and what those goddam Red Commies have done once the people seized the means of production.

I can hardly wait to see your first 5-year plan! Go comrade!
posted by KokuRyu at 5:05 PM on September 8, 2011


Mau mau.
posted by buzzman at 5:07 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is just the kind of action that will alienate anyone moderate who might have had union sympathies. They are acting like thugs here.
posted by shivohum at 5:09 PM on September 8, 2011


Go comrade!

Just in case anyone didn't get my (sometimes oblique) black humor, those are pics of a Chinese state owned pharmaceutical company that is supposed to give its profits back to the people. Except there don't appear to be any profits left after the company's executives built an Imperial Palace for themselves.

The point being, even when people work in a Marxist collective, corrupt companies have too much power. But I note that the a few years back, the head of the State Food and Drug administration was executed for corruption.

I don't see much difference between EGT lining its pockets on the backs of the working class, and the egregious abuses I linked to in China.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:17 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This preceded the recent events: Disturbing video shows car plowing into ILWU workers at Port of Longview's EGT facility
posted by talos at 5:17 PM on September 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Well, Exhibit G-2 is pretty explicit, isn't it? IANAL, but it seems to make the ILWU part of the deal.

The letter from the port says 'traditional longshoreman jobs'... so maybe it hinges on whatever that means.
posted by empath at 5:18 PM on September 8, 2011


So, the obvious remedy for EGT breaching the lease is for ILWU to go to court to enforce the lease provision.

Didn't the Port already do this in July? From upthread..

In a response filed July 5, Port of Longview attorneys asked a federal judge to order EGT to honor its lease agreement and hire Local 21 labor. During two years of negotiations, EGT tried at least twice to get out of that requirement but ultimately agreed with it, port attorneys argued.

The case isn’t expected to be decided until next year, but the conflict could continue to fester if EGT holds to its plan to hire non-union labor when it opens the terminal this summer or early fall.


So they're SOL until then huh? Perhaps they believe the violence will help bring a judgment sooner, rightly or wrongly.
posted by tittergrrl at 5:20 PM on September 8, 2011


I'm just here to reinforce an earlier recommendation.

"Which Side Are You On?: Trying to Be for Labor When It's Flat on Its Back" by Thomas Geoghegan

Great book!
posted by TwelveTwo at 5:34 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


tittergrrl: according to various linked stories, they've been doing the court thing and noisy protest thing for some time now, to little effect. I guess the idea is that blocking the tracks and upending grain cars may bring some pressure to bear from other quarters (grain exporters, insurers, farmers), as well as get people to notice there's a fight going on.

empath: The letter is just a letter. The "G-2" attachment is binding, but short on details. The "Working Agreement" between the Port and the union that G-2 references would appear to be the key document.

We'll have look carefully at the kerning.
posted by notyou at 5:35 PM on September 8, 2011


kmz: The WGA strike was for very good reasons. But they caved too soon.

WGA isn't much of a union. Cross a Teamster picket line, you're getting your face re-arranged. Cross the writers picket line and someone might say unkind things about you on their blog.
posted by dr_dank at 5:35 PM on September 8, 2011


This preceded the recent events: Disturbing video shows car plowing into ILWU workers at Port of Longview's EGT facility

Standing in front of an innocent driver's SUV? That's just the kind of union stunt that's gong to alienate moderates.
posted by Hoopo at 5:41 PM on September 8, 2011 [20 favorites]


I'm guessing that the working agreement between ILWU and the Port of Longview is an instance of the 1999-2002 Pacific Coast Longshore Contract Document linked to from ILWU's contracts page. It might also be one of the documents linked to on the Pacific Maritime Association's contracts page.
posted by hades at 5:45 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have EGT acted like arseholes? Yes!

Don't you mean Bunge holes?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:47 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: if you're thinking about spending the $5 at PACER, hold off a few minutes.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:49 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm currently downloading and OCR-ing the lease between EGT and the Port of Longview, so if you're thinking about spending the $5 at PACER, hold off a few minutes.


Why does that even matter? If my landlord rented my backyard to a camping group without my consent, the contract would be null and void, since I am an interested party that did not get to sign it. Whatever EGT and the Port signed together is completely immaterial if the ILWU didn't get a seat at the table. I'm the closet thing MetaFilter has to a Republican, and I'm with the ILWU here.
posted by ocschwar at 6:12 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I see interesting parallels between this and the response to London, a lot of people saying "well, these folks may have legitimate grievances but their actions and methods of protest really do nothing good for their cause at large . . . " but rioting in its many forms is a symptom that the normal methods of conflict resolution are no longer available, because one side of the conflict vastly overpowers the other.

I also find it very very interesting that this was over grain. Shades of the dreaded food riots predicted at around this time by all the SF I read as a kid. I hate to come off all Marxist but as wealth inequality increases more and more explosions like the are going to happen.
posted by chaff at 6:20 PM on September 8, 2011


Ironically enough, when II read this on my iPhone, without logging in, the Google Ad I got was for a scab-finder temp agency.
posted by ocschwar at 6:21 PM on September 8, 2011


It matters because it tells us who the bad guy is. If the Port granted EGT a lease without mentioning their existing contract with ILWU, then the Port is the bad guy and ILWU's beef is with the Port. (And also with EGT, for not doing the honorable thing despite a lack of contractual obligation.) If the Port put that into their lease contract and now EGT is trying to weasel out of it, then EGT is the bad guy. The Port says they put it in the contract. EGT says they didn't. And now we can all read the lease contract for ourselves and see what we think it says.

(Also, squee, I finally wrote something that got turned into a tagline joke, yay!)
posted by hades at 6:22 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Judge warns Wash. union to halt illegal tactics
posted by homunculus at 6:26 PM on September 8, 2011


Well, there is no way for EGT not to be the bad guy here, given that they did not either back out of the deal or ire ILWU. As soon as they found out about the ILWU's contract, the onus was on them to do the right thing.
posted by ocschwar at 6:27 PM on September 8, 2011


You said "onus."
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:30 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hoopo writes "Standing in front of an innocent driver's SUV? That's just the kind of union stunt that's gong to alienate moderates."

A) How do you know the driver of the SUV is uninvolved in this dispute? It's entirely possible they are an employee of EGT or a longshore worker.

B) The driver of the SUV doesn't even slow down to accord the picketer the minimum courtesy required by law by drivers towards pedestrians.

C) Are their actually a significant percentage of Union sympathetic moderates in the US? Even here in Soviet Canuckistan organized labour in the form of unions and strike action is a fairly polarizing issue.
posted by Mitheral at 6:30 PM on September 8, 2011



I see interesting parallels between this and the response to London, a lot of people saying "well, these folks may have legitimate grievances but their actions and methods of protest really do nothing good for their cause at large . . . " but rioting in its many forms is a symptom that the normal methods of conflict resolution are no longer available, because one side of the conflict vastly overpowers the other.


Somehow I doubt we'll see the ILWU fencing any stolen grain on Craig's List. This is apples & oranges.
posted by ocschwar at 6:31 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hades, thanks for downloading those. I've had a very quick look, and here's my guess at the issues. It's only a guess, because so far there doesn't seem to be a copy of the Working Agreement between the port and the ILWU filed with the court; the main thrust of the legal fight so far has been over whether the ILWU can force EGT to arbitration or not, and EGT is keeping its cards close to its chest.

My guess is that the working agreement governs only operations carried out on the Port's property.

Well yeah, you say, so that means the ILWU is involved. I think otherwise, because in Exhibit K sections 6 (for both the Ship Dock and Barge Dock), where the various improvements and building plans are described, the deal is that the Port owns everything under the waterline (concrete pilings, navigable channels, and things like that) and EGT owns everything it builds above the waterline (docking hardware, train tracks, grain silos and pits etc.). In short, all the stuff that EGT has just spent ~$150 million constructing to get grain from barges onto ships.

OK, but doesn't the land itself belong to the Port? No. It has been 'demised,' to ECG, which is a lawyer's way of saying that EGT has an exclusive lease upon the land, subject to fulfillment of its covenants (to pay money and construct certain things by a given date). The Land has been passed to EGT 'to have and to hold' - yes, just like in a wedding - meaning that EGT is the effective owner of the land for the term of the lease as long as it continues to pay its ground rent and grant specific easements to other people (eg allowing electricity lines or water pipes to run underneath the land for other users of the port). The terms of the Demise are spelled out in article 2 of the lease, pages 9-13.

In short, EGT has exclusive use of the land, and everything it builds on the land belongs to EGT, not the Port. If the working agreement the Port has with the ILWU is limited to work that takes place on property owned by the Port, then it simply wouldn't apply here.

Again, I'm not a lawyer, just a law student. Also I haven't seen the Working Agreement because I have not reviewed all of the documents submitted to the court. It doesn't appear to have been submitted with the ILWU's motions. I'm just guessing based on a quick reading of the lease, and a very basic understanding of commercial property law. Don't blame me if you don't like the lease terms, I didn't write them.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:31 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


It has been my port experience that existing contracts prevail so even if the EGT contract left the ILWU in the cold, that contract, or a portion of it, would be invalid.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 6:32 PM on September 8, 2011


As far as I'm concerned, scab isn't a dirty enough word.

But I guess union workers should just ask real nice that the labor provisions they bargained fairly for be upheld. And when the bosses say no, everyone can group hug.

That's the problem with the left in this country. There's too much of an emphasis on being nice and not making the big meanies on the right mad. That's crazy self-defeating bullshit if you ask me.
posted by sugarfish at 6:33 PM on September 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


Mitheral I think that Hoopo was being ironic.

According to the comments under the video at the ILWU f/b page, someone who was there (I imagine) reports that:
The police will do nothing. They said "there's nothing we can do but look into it". They are not on our side what-so-ever. I'm sure EGT is paying them to look the other way. They gave the driver of the SUV a police escort out of the facility and I assume all the way home
Had it been the other way around i.e. if a union truck ran over an EGT executive blocking his entrance, at the same speed, I imagine that this would have been much more of a big deal for the police and the media eh?
posted by talos at 6:48 PM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hi Mitheral, that was a joke and I too live in Canuckistan. As a general rule I don't blame people holding big signs and standing in plain sight for getting hit by cars.
posted by Hoopo at 6:48 PM on September 8, 2011


NP, I should have clued in that it was a little too over the top.
posted by Mitheral at 6:53 PM on September 8, 2011


I find the union grandstanding on this thread hilarious, as if the fate of middle class in this country is tied to the fate of, for fuck sake, stevedores, a profession on the last throes of obsolescence. You know the job crisis? It will be solved by creating jobs further up the value chain and educating Americans to be qualified to get them. It won't be solved by protecting an entitled caste of stevedores.
posted by falameufilho at 7:05 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


^Do you want fries with that?
posted by No Robots at 7:13 PM on September 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Sure it will. You can't dismiss the labor rights of an entire professions because you think they're not good enough to deserve them. The same laws apply to everyone.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:14 PM on September 8, 2011 [20 favorites]


Yeah, high wage manual labor has no place in America. You shouldn't be able to earn a living unless you've gone to college first.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 7:14 PM on September 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


You know the job crisis? It will be solved by creating jobs further up the value chain and educating Americans to be qualified to get them. It won't be solved by protecting an entitled caste of stevedores.

Amen. More education means more autonomy, more individual economic security, a higher quality of life, and more environmental sustainability.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:17 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


what this country needs is more stevedontdoers
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:17 PM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah they sure are acting entitled here, almost as if they are being entitled by a contract, one that is not being honored. The nerve! Don't they know they're going to be replaced by robots anyway? It's fucking hilarious, I agree, they should give up and we should point and laugh.

Christ you're like a cartoon villain
posted by Hoopo at 7:25 PM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I find the union grandstanding on this thread hilarious

perhaps, but the part that makes me 'laugh' is that it's that it's outnumbered about 3-1 by armchair authoritarianism, knee-jerk defenses of capital (!), and tut-tutting over the incivility and entitledness of those villainous union dudes...

Amazing how many people here come home from their, I dunno, 70 hr/wk upper-management/doctoring/lawyering/enterpreneuring gigs and have time to spend on the internet trashing anything union-related. You'd think they'd be able to *pay* people to do that for them. Oh wait...

But no, it's probably not that. It's probably just that anti-labor propaganda is so *ingrained* at this point that it's spouted most vociferously by people who'd actually benefit from strong labor unions. I mean, fuck, I've never had a chance to be in one, but I'd love to. Can't see how it could be worse than what I have already. But oh no, they're thugs, they're mobbed up... like I give a fuck. Like capitalists aren't mobbed up thug-employing villains themselves. But hey, at least the Job Creators are on my side!

Oh, no, I forgot, they fucking aren't.
posted by hap_hazard at 7:27 PM on September 8, 2011 [28 favorites]


You can't dismiss the labor rights of an entire professions because you think they're not good enough to deserve them.

I am not making a judgment of value of the people involved, I am talking about longshoremen as a profession.
posted by falameufilho at 7:28 PM on September 8, 2011


Yeah, moving things. That ship has sailed! Wait - no it hasn't. Nobody was there to load it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:33 PM on September 8, 2011 [19 favorites]


Life isn't fair and companies don't have to play fair, its part of capitalism.

Part of capitalism is also knowing when the hundreds of got-nothing-to-lose workers you've kept/trapped in town with depressingly cut throat wages will turn on you and burn your house down. With the lemons you've been giving them.

We past that line sometime in the late 80s, we're just waiting for Lenin at this point.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:34 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Subject to the usual disclaimers (not a lawyer, looking at everything for the first time, yadda yadda), the Port and the ILWU seem to have overlooked the basics here. Yes, the Port (as a member of the Pacific Maritime Association) and the ILWU have a longstanding agreement, and yes, if the port hires a subcontractor or leases out its facilities the agreement is supposed to be 'part of the package.' Both the Port and the ILWU seemingly assumed that the same would apply here.

However, the problem is that there weren't any facilities here until EGT came along and built them. EGT leased a piece of empty land that was owned by the Port and committed to spending $200 million on building a facility there. It was a big deal for someone to be building a new facility like this, if this brochure produced by the Port is any guide. So it's not like EGT signed a deal with the Port and then kicked any ILWU workers out of their jobs; rather EGT built the facility on land that would otherwise have been empty. And since EGT has exclusive rights to the land in question, to the point that it can exclude the Port completely if it feels like it, the facilities the firm has built there seem to fall squarely within the exception in section 1.4 of the Container Freight Station supplement to the Working Agreement. Legally speaking, the EGT facility is not part of the Port of Longview.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:39 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Falameufilho, how do you think the containers get off the boats? Get on the trains? Get on the trucks?

If this country ever starts manufacturing things again, how will those items be exported?
posted by The Hamms Bear at 7:39 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am not making a judgment of value of the people involved, I am talking about longshoremen as a profession.

So was I. Yes, more education for higher paying jobs is a good thing. It's just beside the point. They're still entitled to be treated equally under the law, your opinion of the profession has no bearing on that.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:40 PM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


So we have proof of assault with a deadly weapon against two ILWU picketers, and the police doing nothing about it.

Note to the powers that be: ifI get called up to a jury against any of them, you got a nasty surprise coming at you.
posted by ocschwar at 7:40 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


We past that line sometime in the late 80s, we're just waiting for Lenin at this point.

Ah, yes, good old Lenin.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:41 PM on September 8, 2011


the part that makes me 'laugh' is that it's that it's outnumbered about 3-1 by armchair authoritarianism, knee-jerk defenses of capital (!), and tut-tutting over the incivility and entitledness of those villainous union dudes
No it isn't! It's the other way around, at least 4-1 *for* the union, despite the, ehm, dynamic nature of the actions discussed. It might have been 50/50, or 70/30 8-9 years ago in a similar discussion here, but the sea-change in attitudes among the relatively liberal MeFi US average is impressive in recent years (and a good thing) IMHO.
posted by talos at 7:41 PM on September 8, 2011


You heard it here folks, the job crisis will be solved by education. Which will become available and affordable to all, even while salaries drop because we let unions and collective bargaining wither away. it's capitalism, which the free market has determined is better than science.
posted by Hoopo at 7:42 PM on September 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's fucking hilarious, I agree, they should give up and we should point and laugh.

I believe there's a middle ground between that and celebrating them as champions of the middle class.

Christ you're like a cartoon villain

Cute, but tone it down on the ad hominen buddy. It's not the first time you do that to me specifically.
posted by falameufilho at 7:42 PM on September 8, 2011


the part that makes me 'laugh' is that it's that it's outnumbered about 3-1 by armchair authoritarianism

Back this up. Because that's a complete lie.
posted by empath at 7:50 PM on September 8, 2011


Fuck it.

Let's go back to sympathetic and general strikes.

Should be a snap to organize online these days.
posted by mikelieman at 7:50 PM on September 8, 2011


Falameufilho, how do you think the containers get off the boats? Get on the trains? Get on the trucks?

An awful lot of this can be automated, and already is in other countries.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:51 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anigbrowl, as an employee of a different port I can tell you that anyone who signed a contract that gave EGT "exclusive rights to the land in question, to the point that it can exclude the Port completely if it feels like it" will be fired, the port's lawyers will be fired, and the entire port commission will be voted out of office for allowing it to happen. There is 0.000000001% chance that is what happened here.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 7:51 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, and the PMA agreement puts longshore in charge of those kinds of automated operations.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 7:52 PM on September 8, 2011


Let's go back to sympathetic and general strikes.

Sure. Give me something I can be sympathetic too, and I would. I'm sorry, but those guys make three times my salary. I'm sorry if I don't feel bad for them.

(seriously -- they average over 6 figures a year.)

Still feel like they're poor, oppressed members of the working class?
posted by empath at 7:56 PM on September 8, 2011


You feel you're not?
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:59 PM on September 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Good reason to resort to crime: your company is paying you far too little, or treating you badly, and you've exhausted all legal means in attempts to fix the situation.

Bad reason to resort to crime: your company builds a new plant and decides not to hire you, which they may or may not be obligated to do, and the case is still in court. No one's existing job is destroyed or even changed.
posted by miyabo at 8:01 PM on September 8, 2011


Because that's a complete lie.

Naw, just hyperbole, I didn't actually count. It's just a feeling that there's a lot more ressentiment than solidarity going on 'round here (in mefi, in the US) than I'd like to see. Happy to be proven wrong though!
posted by hap_hazard at 8:01 PM on September 8, 2011


How much is someone allowed to make before you lose your empathy, empath?
posted by The Hamms Bear at 8:02 PM on September 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Who claimed they were champions of the middle class? Also you rolled in here laughing at both the profession and the people who support union workers taking action. Don't act like you were making a contribution in good faith with that comment of yours.
posted by Hoopo at 8:03 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


^sorry for the extra clause, 's been a long day.
posted by hap_hazard at 8:03 PM on September 8, 2011


I don't, for the record, think they're especially overpaid compared to other professions (that was just the first link that came up when i searched for 'longshoreman salary'. I just don't think they're oppressed to the point where they can justify extra-legal activity to get more.

If they want to go on strike, go on strike. But they can't go on strike, because they were never hired to begin with.
posted by empath at 8:04 PM on September 8, 2011


Who claimed they were champions of the middle class?

The title of this thread.
posted by empath at 8:05 PM on September 8, 2011


How much is someone allowed to make before you lose your empathy, empath?

It's really a matter of how many laws they break.
posted by empath at 8:06 PM on September 8, 2011


Anigbrowl, as an employee of a different port I can tell you that anyone who signed a contract that gave EGT "exclusive rights to the land in question, to the point that it can exclude the Port completely if it feels like it" will be fired, the port's lawyers will be fired, and the entire port commission will be voted out of office for allowing it to happen. There is 0.000000001% chance that is what happened here.

The Hamms Bear, I didn't write the lease. Maybe the Port's lawyers should be fired - or maybe, as I've observed, I'm completely wrong in my interpretation. I haven't studied this area of law in detail or researched precedent in similar cases. But that's certainly what section 2.1 of the lease seems to say, particularly subclause (y) on pages 9-10 of the lease document. It seems to me like this exclusivity was something EGT wanted before it would invest $200m in building the grain elevator.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:06 PM on September 8, 2011


Holy shit, a foremen makes $177,000 a year? Read that and go back to the title of this thread to see how bizarre this discussion is. "working class", alright. This is the ugly face of unionization people don't like to discuss: creating a caste of privileged few who manage to sell themselves as the champions of the proletariat. You too could be like them, if only you were in an union!
posted by falameufilho at 8:06 PM on September 8, 2011


perhaps, but the part that makes me 'laugh' is that it's that it's outnumbered about 3-1 by armchair authoritarianism, knee-jerk defenses of capital (!), and tut-tutting over the incivility and entitledness of those villainous union dudes...

Man, if you want to live in a place where people resolve basic contractual disputes with violence, good luck to you. The streets will be running red with blood in a day. The court system sucks, and should almost always be the last resort, but it's better than 'might makes right' by a long shot.

Frankly, I'm astonished that no one here seems to be annoyed that the legal system is so easily manipulated to the advantage of the massive deep pockets employers. They can afford to string out the matter until the local union workers go broke.

Given that the matter is likely pretty cut and dried (unless there has been some insanely massive incompetence on the part of the Port's lawyers), it seems more likely to me that this is a calculated play to soften the local union by starving them until they are willing to accept a crappier deal than is set out in the Working Agreement referred to by the lease.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:07 PM on September 8, 2011


You too could be like them, if only you were in an union!

I would dearly, dearly love for that to be true, but it tends to only work at professions where there are huge external costs to them going on strike (like with transit workers and teamsters).
posted by empath at 8:08 PM on September 8, 2011


More power to the longshore workers for standing up for their rights. But the armchair radicals in this thread advocating violence and mouthing slogans about "scabs" and "Capital" are pretty goddamn pathetic. It's like something out of The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:09 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


KokoRyu, What is to be done?
posted by kuatto at 8:10 PM on September 8, 2011


The streets will be running red with blood in a day.

Oh, man - the Streetsweepers Union is going to be pissed!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:11 PM on September 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Empath, you mean professions that can take segments of the economy as a hostage.
posted by falameufilho at 8:11 PM on September 8, 2011


a foremen makes $177,000 a year?

Whoa. I think I just changed sides.
posted by No Robots at 8:12 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


empath: Sure. Give me something I can be sympathetic too, and I would. I'm sorry, but those guys make three times my salary. I'm sorry if I don't feel bad for them.

It's telling how the grungy & unglamorous longshoreman job became such a vaunted position by not changing while the rest of the US labor landscape deteriorated. Slashed benefits, stagnant wages, and fleeting security stand out like sore thumbs against guaranteed increases, seniority, and subsidized benefits.
posted by dr_dank at 8:14 PM on September 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


a foremen makes $177,000 a year?

And the company in question only managed to eke out 2.5 billion dollars in profits....
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:16 PM on September 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


What about the port operators, I wonder how much they are making? No one cares if a CEO is making $20,000,000. At some point those numbers lose their effect. But if a working class joe pulls in $100k, that is not to be tolerated? Bullshit.
posted by kuatto at 8:16 PM on September 8, 2011 [25 favorites]


Just don't call them "working class", because that's bullshit.
posted by falameufilho at 8:17 PM on September 8, 2011


Just don't call them "working class", because that's bullshit.

Cause that aint workin. That's the way you do it. Money for nothing.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:18 PM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


And CEO compensation is one of the most debated subjects in business literature, so you probably dont't know what you're talking about when you say "no one cares" about it.
posted by falameufilho at 8:20 PM on September 8, 2011


Well, I guess professions that are rather price insensitive, and where there isn't any competition.

I was in a grocery union, and they had to keep making deals where new employees got a lower salary and worse benefits -- i was on the third tier. When there was only Safeway and Giant and both were unionized, the union could fight for higher salaries. Once Food Lion and Walmart moved in and were competing on price, the union got screwed. Now the best grocery store to work for isn't the union shops, its Wegman's, because they match most of the union benefits without actually having the overhead of having a union (something that would never have happened without the unions having gained all that ground to begin with, though).

It's tough for the unions, because the more successful they are, they less needed they are (or the less they are perceived to be needed), so they gradually lose power. The ones that are left with a lot of power are in niche local monopolies where they can still throw muscle around without bankrupting their employers in the process. Which is great for the workers, more power to them, but some of it is just pure greed, and they're exploiting the rest of the city that has to deal with their bullshit. (anybody who has ever been involved in throwing a convention knows what I'm talking about). I don't begrudge them doing it, but I'm sure as hell not going to applaud them for going as far as breaking the law to expand their reach, especially when there are legal remedies in process.
posted by empath at 8:21 PM on September 8, 2011


Just don't call them "working class", because that's bullshit.
I suppose the CEO's and marketing managers in the multinationals are the "productive" class? Fie!
posted by kuatto at 8:22 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Frankly, I'm astonished that no one here seems to be annoyed that the legal system is so easily manipulated to the advantage of the massive deep pockets employers. They can afford to string out the matter until the local union workers go broke.

What manipulation? EGT went to court to ask for a declaration that they were within their rights to hire whoever they liked, contrary to what the Port was asserting. The Port filed a counterclaim against EGT. The ILWU asked the court for permission to fight EGC separately, rather than being represented by the Port. The Court declined. The ILWU offered more arguments in support of their claim. The Court changed its mind and agreed.

The grain elevator isn't scheduled to go into full operation until March 2012. The trial is already scheduled for mid-April. If EGT were to lose, the short-term loss to the ILWA would be about 6 weeks of work - and if I read the Working Agreement with the Port correctly, the ILWU would get $1000 compensation for every cargo container that was inappropriately moved by someone else during that time.

I think EGT might win based on what the lease says, but as I've said repeatedly, that's just a guess. However, I disagree strongly that the Court is just rubber-stamping EGT's legal claims. If that were the case, the matter would have been wrapped up in January.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:22 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kuatto, define "productivity".
posted by falameufilho at 8:26 PM on September 8, 2011


What manipulation?

As I said, just speculation and guesses on my part, as well. But I've seen deep pockets litigants do this several times. I'm probably just projecting.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:33 PM on September 8, 2011


Very well then. Here is what I think: first, have your union. You need it. Alone you are weak. Together you are strong. But remember that with strength goes responsibility to others and yourselves, for you cannot conquer injustice with more injustice -– only with justice, and the help of God.
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 8:37 PM on September 8, 2011


Anigbrowl,

Yes, $200 million is a lot of money.

Another west coast port sunk close to $200 million into a terminal deal that fell through before the shipping line ever occupied the land. These types of projects are expensive and land with water deep enough for shipping is at a premium This was not some unheard of price tag for a port project. You don't get to buy autonomy.


There are a lot of unfounded assumptions about the personal worth and work habits of ILWU workers being made in this thread based, primarily, on their salaries and wages. I read that kind of crap every time the ports are in the newspaper and it's frustrating and disappointing to see it here as well so I'm gonna bow out now. Just remember that if the dock foreman isn't making $177,000 a year the Chinese shipping company is just going to keep that money, it isn't going to make your household goods any fucking cheaper.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 8:39 PM on September 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Kuatto, define "productivity".

I'll give it a shot: Productivity is the creation of material goods such that they are consumed. This is different from the "work" of CEOs and middle managers which seeks to channel productive forces, to establish the character of production, and to extract value. One side represents the collected pool of labor, and the other rides above it all, comfortably fat, and content to ensure his dominance of productive forces through the accumulation of capitol.

It's my opinion that these multinational are owed nothing. They have been invited to come in and run a sovereign institution. The grain that comes through that port is American grain. Where is your allegiance?
posted by kuatto at 8:50 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good for them.
posted by schyler523 at 8:51 PM on September 8, 2011


Where is your allegiance?

I'll go with the people who have be able to afford to buy the grain or they'll starve to death.
posted by empath at 9:03 PM on September 8, 2011


KokoRyu, What is to be done?

Find a cause you believe will make your community a better place, and use your heart rather than your fist to affect change.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:05 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am absolutely astounded that people can step up to defend the monied class at a time when the character and soul of the working class is being completely shredded. It is abominable and worthy of shame when the institutions and people that built this country are thrown out like so much trash. How much is too much money? How little is too little work? If you insist upon drawing the lines, then do it! At least then we can see whose side you are on.

fie!
posted by kuatto at 9:06 PM on September 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


"monied class"

Kuatto, the 19th century called.
posted by falameufilho at 9:10 PM on September 8, 2011


I'll go with the people who have be able to afford to buy the grain or they'll starve to death.

Surely defending the champions of a race to the bottom in wages and benefits is the way to go, then...!
posted by rollbiz at 9:10 PM on September 8, 2011


Look:

There are people who are genuinely abused by their employers. Illegal immigrants, people that work at fast food places, farm workers, textile workers, I can name tons of them. Those guys I would back 100% breaking shit in the service of earning decent pay and for better worker conditions.

These guys are just throwing a fit because a legal dispute isn't going their way. There's no great principles here being fought for. They already are making 6 figures with great benefits in a secure job with good working conditions. They are just trying to muscle their way into a new business that they may or may not have a right to (the courts are deciding the issue right now).

I 100% back their right to collective bargaining and striking, and I would never argue against a workers right to strike and picket, no matter how overpaid I thought they were, but I'm not going to back the kind of thuggish tactics they're using when they have plenty of legal remedies at hand.

You guys aren't thinking this through properly, you're just kneejerkingly supporting union members out of class resentment or something. It doesn't make any rational sense.
posted by empath at 9:12 PM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Those guys I would back 100% breaking shit in the service of earning decent pay and for better worker conditions.

Although, I should say, all things considered, I'd rather it be done at the ballot box and guarantee those rights to everyone than have individual unions having to fight for it over and over again.
posted by empath at 9:16 PM on September 8, 2011


There are people who are genuinely abused by their employers. Illegal immigrants, people that work at fast food places, farm workers, textile workers, I can name tons of them. Those guys I would back 100% breaking shit in the service of earning decent pay and for better worker conditions.

Resistance is never led by the truly poor, they are too concerned with day-to-day survival.
posted by mek at 9:17 PM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Although, I should say, all things considered, I'd rather it be done at the ballot box

2008 called, it wants your optimism back.
posted by mek at 9:18 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just like a patriot doesn't have to support everything his government does, someone who supports unions and workers doesn't need to support every action every union takes.

I've supported every minimum wage increase. I support almost every strike (even NFL players, etc), I support every law that improves worker protections and benefits. I want to increase welfare payments and foodstamps, etc. I want to increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy. I'm as liberal and redistributionist as you get without wanting the proletariat to seize the modes of production. But I'm not going to support getting what I want through violent action and vandalism, unless it's in opposition to violence applied against them, or in the case where there is literally no other choice.

Resistance is never led by the truly poor, they are too concerned with day-to-day survival.

And the truly poor never get the benefits of resistance. Revolutions are generally the upper middle class seizing power from the obscenely wealthy. (as is the case here)
posted by empath at 9:25 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


After all this, I'm thinking there's a good chance we're going to have to go through robber barons and their Pinkerton men yet again before we come out on the other side. Maybe it's time to do things very differently. Start growing your own vegetables tomorrow, before winter sets in.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 9:26 PM on September 8, 2011


"monied class"

Kuatto, the 19th century called.


That's right falameufilho. Those that dwell in the canyons and citadels. The noble and pure, unbothered by messy details.
posted by kuatto at 9:26 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


there was just a big union rally in Sydney, but this is pretty common

I'm learning to value workers' rights, and I support the longshoremen.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:31 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


messy details

The details being that this is a contract dispute between millionaires on both sides.
posted by empath at 9:40 PM on September 8, 2011


That's right falameufilho. Those that dwell in the canyons and citadels. The noble and pure, unbothered by messy details.

What do Elrond and the other Lords of Rivendell have to do with longshoremen?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:46 PM on September 8, 2011


Empath, this is not about proportionality and fairness with regards to who strikes and how. This is about a strategic balance of power that is slipping away from working people. You argue semantics while people are falling off a cliff.

Every handhold we've achieved in the bastions of power must be struggled for. We have gone backwards enough. To give up what the longshoremen have achieved would be a setback for the whole country. This is how it works, step by step, block by block they are grinding up the last elements of power the middle class has. This incrementalism must be resisted. And not just for the sake of the middle class. Without a healthy middle class there are no healthy consumers and the economy grinds to a halt. For its own sake capitalism must be restrained.
posted by kuatto at 9:50 PM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


The nights are long in Middle Earth, and the port bars full of virile dock workers.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:50 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


After all this, I'm thinking there's a good chance we're going to have to go through robber barons and their Pinkerton men yet again before we come out on the other side.

That's one option, but I think the human ability to rationalize away any doubts on the effectiveness of a system is too great. So hopefully we won't end up turning the clock back. There are still some pretty persistent negative attitudes about labor unions in America, though, for a variety of reasons.

Often cited is corruption, and links to organized crime. Valid things to be unhappy about regarding unions, but something bug me about this. When we find corrupt officials in other institutions - corporations, city council, the executive branch of government - we talk about getting those people sacked, arrested, and possibly the institution itself overhauled. Very, very seldom do you hear people float the idea that these criminals indicate these institutions have outlasted their efficacy and need to be eliminated. When it comes to unions, this argument is used quite a lot.

I don't understand why unions have been met with so much hostility since their inception, but I do think that the cult of wealth has made people very dedicated to defending the wealthy from people who are fighting for everyone's best interests. Which is a fight that apparently needs to continue.

If this portion of the lease says what it says, then it definitely looks like the agreement was broken. Regardless, replacing striking workers is scabbing. It doesn't matter if the workers who replaced them are union or not. Union scabs do not have some veneer of immunity for undercutting the bargaining position of people who were already working there. The dynamic remains the same.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:58 PM on September 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


To give up what the longshoremen have achieved would be a setback for the whole country. This is how it works, step by step, block by block they are grinding up the last elements of power the middle class has. This incrementalism must be resisted. And not just for the sake of the middle class.

They're not giving up anything. They're fighting for something they never had. And I'd prefer that, you know, we just enact public policy that guarantees those rights to everyone rather than having one small, spoiled subset of workers engaging in extortion to expand their little fiefdom temporarily.
posted by empath at 10:07 PM on September 8, 2011


And the truly poor never get the benefits of resistance. Revolutions are generally the upper middle class seizing power from the obscenely wealthy. (as is the case here)

Even given that, isn't that much better than inaction? It decreases wealth disparity, and typically that leads to a more progressive and egalitarian society for everyone, regardless of their position in the social hierarchy. I guess I want to say "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." (shudder)
posted by mek at 10:10 PM on September 8, 2011


Even given that, isn't that much better than inaction? It decreases wealth disparity, and typically that leads to a more progressive and egalitarian society for everyone, regardless of their position in the social hierarchy

Doesn't really help the poor much. In any case, I wasn't talking about inaction, I'm just against breaking the law, particularly when it's people who are fairly well-off and can afford to fight it in the courts.
posted by empath at 10:14 PM on September 8, 2011


A foremen makes $177,000 a year? Whoa. I think I just changed sides.

Consider yourself pwned once again by the corporations. You reacted exactly as the corporate PR flacks planned.

Those numbers are put out by the Pacific Maritime Association, the corporation that actually hires and pays the longshoremen. They always lie about how much they pay, just like all corporations do when fighting unions, and the public always swallows it.

1. They always find the most highly paid individual in the entire company and cite that as if everyone gets paid that much, even if it is just one individual in the entire company.

2. They cite annual salaries without indicating how many hours are worked. For example, in this case, workers may be putting in 12-hour days, which is the equivalent of one and half jobs.

3. They tack on benefits as part of wages. When you quote your annual salary, do you include all of your benefits? Do you even know how much your annual benefits are worth? If not, you are comparing apples to oranges which is just how the corporation wants you to think.

4. When they calculate benefits, they include costs related to workers who have already retired and are no longer working. Why should benefits earned by retired workers count as wages to current workers? Its just accounting voodoo to fool the public.

Never trust the wage numbers put out by the corporations.
posted by JackFlash at 10:18 PM on September 8, 2011 [55 favorites]


Another west coast port sunk close to $200 million into a terminal deal that fell through before the shipping line ever occupied the land. These types of projects are expensive and land with water deep enough for shipping is at a premium This was not some unheard of price tag for a port project. You don't get to buy autonomy.

Yet again, I didn't write the lease. I'm just pointing out what it says insofar as that might explain EGT's position. I have no idea whether this counts as a good or a bad deal from an economic standpoint; I'm just pointing out that the 35 jobs inside the grain elevator that the ILWU should go to its members rather than those of some other union wouldn't exist if EGT hadn't built the thing in the first place. Maybe it's a terrible deal and someone else would have come along 6 months later, spent $250 million, and created 75 jobs. Or maybe it's better than any other offers to develop the unused land. I have no opinion on any of that.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:49 PM on September 8, 2011


In the end my feeling is that if you really don't care about your ultimate customer (the owner of the grain or other goods being transported) to the extent that you will actively harm or effectively steal their goods in pursuit of your own ends, instead of doing your job, or at very least leaving the property alone, you absolutely don't deserve to have that work at all. Such behavior shows a very excessive arrogance in this economy, in which workers have to compete for a piece of a limited pie.
posted by knoyers at 11:00 PM on September 8, 2011


Alienation of labour in a contemporary capitalist economy? Say it ain't so.
posted by mek at 11:05 PM on September 8, 2011


falameufilho writes "I find the union grandstanding on this thread hilarious, as if the fate of middle class in this country is tied to the fate of, for fuck sake, stevedores, a profession on the last throes of obsolescence."

This makes no sense at all. Have we stopped moving cargo from ships to shore and vice versa? Obviously with the advent of intermodal containerization the job has changed but there is still work to be done until such time as skynet takes over and the machines run themselves. Especially in bulk cargo.

anigbrowl writes "An awful lot of this can be automated, and already is in other countries."

I think I read that there are only 25-35 positions at stake. At a port facility spanning 38 acres (for which EGT is paying $850 per month per acre) and costing 200 million. I'm betting there is plenty of automation at this facility.

empath writes "These guys are just throwing a fit because a legal dispute isn't going their way. There's no great principles here being fought for. They already are making 6 figures with great benefits in a secure job with good working conditions."

My understanding is ILWU members are getting 0% of their usual salaries at the EGT facility. "TenHundred percent of nuthin' is...let me do the math here...nuthin' into nuthin'...carry the nuthin'..."

No Robots writes "Whoa. I think I just changed sides."

Do you think there is a single person above the foreman who makes less than $177K a year? Personally I doubt it.

empath writes "I'll go with the people who have be able to afford to buy the grain or they'll starve to death."

Using EGT's own numbers going with the ILWU instead of the Operators union would cost an additional $1million annually on a volume of 8 million tonnes. A price increase of 12.5 cents per tonne or 0.04% at current prices of $300+ per tonne. Granted there are going to be a small number of people for whom that will make a difference but 12.5 cents realistically is lost in the noise of daily price fluctuations. God I hope I got the math right
posted by Mitheral at 11:16 PM on September 8, 2011


My understanding is ILWU members are getting 0% of their usual salaries at the EGT facility.

They haven't lost their jobs at the port. These are new jobs that have just been created and were never hired for.
posted by empath at 11:28 PM on September 8, 2011


(seriously -- they average over 6 figures a year.)

Still feel like they're poor, oppressed members of the working class?


Uh, a site called "most overpaid jobs" is going to be unbiased? This other site says that dockworkers averaged 9.67 an hour in 2004.

You know, I don't get being all, "these people make enough money, so screw them." More people making more money and spending it is supposed to elevate everyone's standard of living, right? Isn't the American Dream supposed to be about going from dirt poor to owning six cars and four houses and your own jet? When did we start being so full of scorn for people who work hard? Yes there are some broken unions who perpetuate a lousy status quo. That needs some shaking up. However the recent American zeitgeist of being all bitter and jealous sounding of people who seem to have gotten to a place where they might be able to afford to buy a house or send their kids to college, or hey, get rich, just seems like a bunch of divisive bullshit. Who the hell cares that someone working for a company that makes exorbitant profits is getting a three figure salary (if indeed that is the case)? Who exactly is losing in this scenario? Who wins if all those dockworkers lose jobs to people who get paid an average of six bucks an hour?
posted by oneirodynia at 11:35 PM on September 8, 2011 [17 favorites]


empath writes "They haven't lost their jobs at the port. These are new jobs that have just been created and were never hired for."

That's really the meat of the issue. The union is of the opinion that the lease EGT signed requires EGT to hire the ILWU. EGT obviously disagrees. Or EGT thinks the lease requires them to hire ILWU workers but believes they can get away with not honouring that clause of the lease. Only a judge is going to be able to make a decision in this case.
posted by Mitheral at 11:58 PM on September 8, 2011


Well, yeah. "Breaking shit" doesn't generally help you win court cases.
posted by empath at 12:25 AM on September 9, 2011


This other site says that dockworkers averaged 9.67 an hour in 2004.

That's about dockworkers in general, my link was referring to that specific union.
posted by empath at 12:26 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, yeah. "Breaking shit" doesn't generally help you win court cases.

It does let management know that there's a price to be paid for sending around the goons and paying off the local police to put the boot in.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:22 AM on September 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


And I'd prefer that, you know, we just enact public policy that guarantees those rights to everyone rather than having one small, spoiled subset of workers engaging in extortion to expand their little fiefdom temporarily.

How exactly is that going to happen, given the current political climate? Are you telling me you expect Scott Walker, Eric Cantor and the rest of the Teabaggers to sit down for a nice civilized cup of tea and be reasonable? Absolute bullshit. Might as well wait on unicorns to start flying out of their asses on live TV.

I think the anti-union contingent here is holding unions to a standard of behavior they don't hold business to. I also think that there's an ugly streak of "those people don't deserve what they've got" that reminds me of Teabagger attitudes towards Social Security and Medicare (the Teabaggers deserve it because they're good upstanding white people, but social programs should be taking away from the "undeserving"). And it also reminds me of early 2000s cyberlibertarians, the kind who loved free trade and the impoverishment of the Western working classes while doggedly ignoring protectionist measures that prevented huge numbers of perfectly well qualified Asian professionals from competing for their own white-collar jobs.
posted by jhandey at 3:07 AM on September 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


empath: "The word you want is 'self-defeating', not 'immoral'."

It's immoral because a defector in a prisoner's dilemma does not fuck over just themselves, they fuck over everybody.
posted by idiopath at 3:34 AM on September 9, 2011


Might as well wait on unicorns to start flying out of their asses on live TV.

That will be the day I watch FOX news.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 3:34 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's about dockworkers in general, my link was referring to that specific union.
So historically this union has been able to win its members a better deal than the national average? Perhaps it's because they're willing to break shit when needs be.
posted by Abiezer at 4:09 AM on September 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


I read the thread and TFA before making my prior comment, and I stand behind it. If there is a legal basis for complaint from the ILWU towards the EGT and/or the GCOWL, that need to be resolved in court, and I have zero sympathy towards those who would try to subvert the legal processes to try to get revenge or payback via violent, destructive, extralegal means.

It is a little surprising to me to see MeFites, who, as a group, are fairly anti-violence and supportive of the rule of law, get all cheerleadery about some guys going around and breaking shit because they didn't get the contract that they wanted.
posted by Aizkolari at 4:24 AM on September 9, 2011


Also, if anyone's still reading the thread, an update from the AP.
posted by Aizkolari at 4:29 AM on September 9, 2011


As through this life you ramble
You'll meet some funny men
Some will rob you with a sixgun
And some with a fountain pen.

-Woody Guthrie
posted by tommyD at 4:41 AM on September 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


"monied class"

Kuatto, the 19th century called.


Yeah, it's a new and improved world. Economics work differently now. There aren't any classes.

Where have I heard that before? It seems like we tend to get that argument right before the economy blows up. ( We don't have booms and busts anymore - it's a new economy.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:26 AM on September 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Perhaps it's because they're willing to break shit when needs be.

Generally, extortion does pay off. It's still a crime. If they were going around busting up store fronts demanding protection money, they'd be making more money, too.
posted by empath at 5:44 AM on September 9, 2011


I am absolutely astounded that people can step up to defend the monied class at a time when the character and soul of the working class is being completely shredded

To which monied class are you referring in this case? Because neither EGT nor the ILWU workers appear to be minimum wage blue collar joes.

From the AP article linked above, I just have to point out this quote:
Scott Mason, president of the ILWU Local 23 in Tacoma, said some of his members have joined in the Longview effort, but he doesn't believe they were involved in illegal activity. He blamed the company for provoking the response and warned that more activity could be coming.
Weird wording. I *think* he's saying that he doesn't believe his members weren't involved in the illegal activity, not that he doesn't think what the longshoremen did was illegal. But it's hard to say when it's not a direct quote of the guy.

But then saying that the company "provoked" the illegal activity? Come on. I'm sorry, but just because they're a big powerful company, you can't use the "they asked for it" defense. This is a *contractual dispute*, currently in the courts - and, at that, seemingly ILWU is being treated pretty fairly, being given the right to go after EGT on their own instead of being lumped in with the Port's action, they're hardly being ignored/pushed aside - trying to intimidate the other side into acquiescing by using violence is thuggish asshole behaviour, and if it was EGT doing it, they would be getting excoriated by the pro-union folks in here. I'm pro-union in general (though I generally frown on unions that take cities hostage, like transit workers or garbage men), but the guys who smashed shit up in this case are just thugs.
posted by antifuse at 5:49 AM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


The provocation was violent - see the video and description of a company goon splatting some picketers with his SUV upthread, and the description of the cops using pepper spray and billy-clubs to break up a peaceful picket of a train shipment in the linked stories at the top of the thread, singling out Union leaders.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:21 AM on September 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Violent provocation does not excuse violence in return, as any kindergarten teacher breaking up a playground fight will tell you.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:26 AM on September 9, 2011


Such behavior shows a very excessive arrogance in this economy, in which workers have to compete for a piece of a limited pie.

In this economy? You mean the economy where CEOs are making previously undreamt of salaries? This economy where productivity has continued to rise but workers' salaries are stagnant or even cut? Look around you my friend. If you don't think the Robber Barons are back in force and giggling all the way to the bank you aren't paying attention. And sure, they would love to have us drones fighting over the scraps they offer. Would you work for $7.00 an hour? How about $5.50? How about $3.00 and no benefits?

If there is indeed "limited pie" there will be price gouging by the bakers offering it. I hear that Hot Apple and Chocolate Cream are gone but "Work full time for a year for less money than the CEO makes in an hour" is still available.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:36 AM on September 9, 2011 [20 favorites]


> Violent provocation does not excuse violence in return, as any kindergarten teacher breaking up a playground fight will tell you.

Well, that's kind of a really unsatisfactory metric at any rate. How many kids got sent to detention for fighting back when they were attacked?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:13 AM on September 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's interesting to consider that the more extreme actions taking place are almost certainly not union approved. If US labor laws are anything like Canadian ones, the union could face massive fines for illegal strike actions, not to mention violence and tipping rail cars.

It's a more shop floor (or grass roots if you prefer) kind of action, the kind that sometimes springs out of unionism but is rarely sanctioned by official bodies. Once workers start talking to each other and feel empowered, they're a whole lot more likely to shove back when they feel like they're being pushed around.

I have a hard time seeing this going well for the union, but it's that kind of organizing and empowerment that it's going to take to actually salvage some decent standard of living in North America.
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:42 AM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think that this has been posted yet:

Here's why the Longshore workers are so angry.
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:50 AM on September 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


Scabs is a really useful word to describe the rat bastards who cross picket lines. "Shitheads" wouldn't get printed in the paper after all. The CEO who gets you to work for a dollar is low. The goons and strikebreakers are lower. The people cheering them on from the sidelines are the lowest though.
posted by Peztopiary at 8:44 AM on September 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Violent provocation does not excuse violence in return, as any kindergarten teacher breaking up a playground fight will tell you.

Man, it's a stunning double standard you're running here. Violence is apparently permissible so long as it flows in the proper direction: Inflicted by those in power on those of lower social status. This is the same logic that guides abusive patriarchs and totalitarian governments. Are you sure this is the standard you want to keep?
posted by kaibutsu at 9:07 AM on September 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


In this economy?

I find it helps to basically tune out of anything that contains this phrase, and I nearly missed your comment because of it.
posted by Hoopo at 9:11 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Violent provocation does not excuse violence in return, as any kindergarten teacher breaking up a playground fight will tell you.

Well, that's kind of a really unsatisfactory metric at any rate. How many kids got sent to detention for fighting back when they were attacked?


Umm, all of them? Teachers will routinely send BOTH kids to detention for fighting, no matter who started it (see also: hockey fights).

Stagger Lee: thanks for that link, interesting to see the tactics that EGT used in building the terminal (everything else in that article seems to be stuff that's already been covered here already though). But even from that article, I don't see where ILWU's "smash it all up" behaviour is justified.

Man, it's a stunning double standard you're running here. Violence is apparently permissible so long as it flows in the proper direction

That's a pretty disingenuous reading of what Aizkolari said. He didn't say that the initial violence was justified (although I'm not sure which violence this smash up is in response to - the police action, I presume? But that doesn't explain the INITIAL violence of ILWU protestors smashing down a gate and storming the facility back in July), he said it's not a valid reason to go and smash up EGT's facility.
posted by antifuse at 9:16 AM on September 9, 2011


I don't really see property damage as violence, but if we want to broaden the definition, let's be fair here. Let's also credit the slow violence of pay cuts and layoffs, of outsourcing and degradation. It erodes dignity as much as health and living standard, and if we can let that go, then we should certainly understand the occasional spirited push back.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:19 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


But then saying that the company "provoked" the illegal activity?

Apparently there's been some other stuff going on that's not being reported, like people involved with the company driving into union members picketting outside the facility and the police doing nothing. It hasn't been mentioned much except for one link somewhere in this whole mess with the video of it happening so I'm not surprised it's been missed.
posted by Hoopo at 9:20 AM on September 9, 2011


Stagger: If I go to your house and smash in your windows in an attempt to intimidate you into doing what I want, you don't see that as violence? I find that fascinating.

And Hoopo: I *did* see that link (and it's mentioned in Stagger Lee's linked article just above as well). While I agree that it's horrible that the police did nothing about it, why aren't ILWU members protesting the POLICE? And smashing up the police department? Is it just a "The police are the tool of THE MAN, man, so let's stick it to THE MAN" type situation? ILWU hasn't exactly had a stellar track record of nothing-but-peaceful protests, if they had already torn down a gate and stormed the facility back in July.
posted by antifuse at 9:28 AM on September 9, 2011


How much violence do you think it takes to keep wages deflated in the countries to which work is outsourced?
posted by gracchus at 9:30 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I look forward to the day we start outsourcing CEOs. I guarandamntee you can find someone to do that job twice as well for a quarter of the pay.
posted by Peztopiary at 9:34 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


ILWU members protesting the POLICE?

I think they are. Upthread people were saying so anyways.
posted by Hoopo at 9:36 AM on September 9, 2011




Stagger: If I go to your house and smash in your windows in an attempt to intimidate you into doing what I want, you don't see that as violence? I find that fascinating.


I'm not sure what purpose such a specific hypothetical example serves, except as some kind of mean-spirited rhetorical club.

I wouldn't call what you just described as violence. I'd call it vandalism and intimidation. And if I'd been leaving burning bags of dog-shit on your doorstep every night, I might even call it fair turn around. ;)

People almost always have an agenda when they insist on calling disruption and property damage "violence," and it's really helpful in an honest discussion to distinguish between that kind of violence, and genuine physical violence.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:39 AM on September 9, 2011


It is a little surprising to me to see MeFites, who, as a group, are fairly anti-violence and supportive of the rule of law, get all cheerleadery about some guys going around and breaking shit because they didn't get the contract that they wanted.


Look up the thread. You will see a video of an EGT employee committing assault with a deadly weapon against 2 ILWU picketers.

ILWO facebook chatter indicates that the police were on the scene and refused to make an arrest.

I will go on record to say that if the police allow people to commit violence against the persons of ILWU members, then I support the ILWU members' decision to engage in crimes against property, and I will not vote to convict any of them for vandalism, if I am on the jury.

If the EGT wants war, let them have it.
posted by ocschwar at 9:42 AM on September 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Violent provocation does not excuse violence in return, as any kindergarten teacher breaking up a playground fight will tell you.


Violence against the person on one side is more than adequate justification for vandalism on part of the other.
posted by ocschwar at 9:44 AM on September 9, 2011


ILWO facebook chatter indicates that the police were on the scene and refused to make an arrest.

Looks like they also failed to arrest anyone from ILWU too in response to the vandalism. it makes you wonder if people were really "taken hostage" or if excessively strong language is being used to describe the incident. Or at least what the hell these police officers do all day.
posted by Hoopo at 9:47 AM on September 9, 2011


I'm not sure what purpose such a specific hypothetical example serves, except as some kind of mean-spirited rhetorical club.

Well, ILWU members are breaking into EGT's facilities and smashing up their shit, in order to get EGT to do what they want. To me, that's no different from mob goons in the movies smashing up businesses that don't pay them protection money. And it seems pretty violent to me. But I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on our definitions of violent behaviour. I think you tend to see violence as strictly being against people, whereas I lean a bit more towards the typical dictionary definition, which focuses more on the behaviour and intention behind it than the target. I would tend to use the word "assault" if we're talking specifically about violence against people.

And I'm not justifying violence (of ANY kind) on EITHER side here, let me just make that clear. Neither ILWU's property damage (which seems to be the first escalation into violent behaviour, as far as I can tell from Stagger Lee's article, back in July), nor the reprehensible behaviour of the EGT contractor who ran into protestors with their car (and the police who apparently protected that person, if that's what actually happened).
posted by antifuse at 9:48 AM on September 9, 2011


It is a little surprising to me to see MeFites, who, as a group, are fairly anti-violence and supportive of the rule of law, get all cheerleadery about some guys going around and breaking shit because they didn't get the contract that they wanted.
Given you've spotted this much, does it not make you think perhaps you're missing a bigger picture here that they're not?
posted by Abiezer at 9:55 AM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, ILWU members are breaking into EGT's facilities and smashing up their shit, in order to get EGT to do what they want. To me, that's no different from mob goons in the movies smashing up businesses that don't pay them protection money

OK one more time, here's how it's different. Imagine the businesses that got smashed up by mob goons had a contract with their landlord that said these mob goons were responsible for security in the building, and then chose not to hire them and instead get some teenaged rent-a-cops to do the job on the cheap. Then, when they arrived at work in the morning to find the mob goons picketting out front, the business owners drove a car into them.

This is in addition to the fact we are lacking a shitload of context in the lead-up to this incident. It's fine to condemn violence on the whole, but if that's the position we're goign to take it can be done without the political anti-union stance.
posted by Hoopo at 10:01 AM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just don't call them "working class", because that's bullshit.

So what's your criteria for 'working class'?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:01 AM on September 9, 2011


The term "scab" is an ugly one, but I really can't think of a better term to describe someone so self-involved as to hurt his/her own long term economic being for a short term reward, and in the process hurt others. Perhaps "traitor" or "rat" or even" lackey" or "fool," might work. But it's ugly for a reason. And it is a good one. At the end of the day, it would really be healthier if that word began to actual mean something again, as we've deteriorated as a culture to the point where a ability, hard work don't mean much. This vaunted "free market" which is neither free or a market (more like an establishment of corporatist and Wall Street trusts and syndicates) does not reward those things truly any longer. What it rewards is recklessness and instability in the form of risk-taking for short term (as in milliseconds short term) automated price speculations.

It no longer rewards hard-work or ability or vision or caution and long-term saving and planning. What it rewards, at the end of the day is betrayal, manipulation, backroom-deals that are so codified in the GOP culture they don't even need to be spoken. It is understood that Capital is the end all and be all and Labor is the enemy that must be broken and destroyed, at any cost to ensure a return.

Really, for the past 30 years, beginning with Reagan's Hollywood folksiness the economy has become a scab economy. It's now to the point that it's glossed over with patriotism.

At the end of the day, what is the Tea Party but a party of scabs. A party dedicated to the interest of the owners and the powerful. Self-sabotaging, ignorant, looking for the short-term gain.

They should really be called the Tea Scab Party.

And for those so up in arms about the nickel and dime violence here, you really need to see that taking work away from people and threatening their well-being and their lives, economically is the ultimate form of violence. It's violence of the most profound and existential sort really. One someone is threatening your life, your dignity, your family, your home and community, your hopes for the future, are you simply going to sit there and take it??

I hope not. Anyone not blinkered by propaganda and phony patriotism, like the utterly clueless Tea Party people who have made being victimized by Corporatist an almost high-art of delusionment and denial (They are a Scab Nation unto themselves), and with even a sliver or modicum of awareness and self-respect is going fight being made victims, to do something to defend themselves.

That is the healthy response. But this is what this nation has become, what's Wall Street really if not the ultimate scab institution. And what is Fox News and the rest of the Right-wing noise machine if not a tool for producing scabs (Wall street, the banks, the CEO's, the oil co.s') and it's necessary corollary, victims.

What's left for those who neither want to be scabs or victims? Not fucking much, and it's high time this fucking psychotic situation had a wake up call, and looks like this is it.

Healthy people don't sit idly and let themselves be victimized. They fight back. They say something. And the ILGW was saying something all Summer it sounds like and they'reeither getting played for fools by EGT or they're being played for helpless bitches. And looks like they're neither.
posted by Skygazer at 10:04 AM on September 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


Well, ILWU members are breaking into EGT's facilities and smashing up their shit

Picketing means impeding the movement of citizens going about their lawful business.
That's not exactly nice either, though the consensus in the US allows it.

Vandalism does step things up, but given that this facility is funded with tax breaks, sweeteners and acquisition by eminent domain, I'm not too worked up about it. It's arguably stolen property they're smashing up.

Violence against the person crosses a red line for me. And police acquiescence in a case of violence against the person is utterly anathema.
posted by ocschwar at 10:05 AM on September 9, 2011


It's not like corporate management isn't actively committing violence against labor throughout the developing world on a regular basis. Our major corporations continue to be implicated in assassinating labor movement leaders and otherwise oppressing laborers around the world. Two wrongs don't make a right, but while corporations have been empowered in law to continue and even expand their abusive practices over recent decades, labor's been systematically stripped of its rights to put up a fuss. Well, it's about time for an historical correction, just looking at it from a systemic perspective, regardless of where your loyalties lie. This is one form of what market demand, as expressed on the labor side, can look like. The fact that this is happening just shows that management is persistently and stubbornly unresponsive to the natural demands of the labor force.

Whether it makes accounting sense looking from the management side to make profits by cutting labor costs or not, it doesn't make sense in any world for the labor side to accept such cuts without pushing back, nor does it make sense on the consumer side, since the vast majority of consumers are on the labor side (whether union-affiliated or not).

Society as a whole pays a tremendous price when workers and consumers are afraid of corporate management as a power bloc, but management doesn't fear labor. Mutual respect would make a more ideal power-sharing arrangement, but that ship sailed long before Wisconsin.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:09 AM on September 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oops. Meant to link:

It's not like corporate management isn't actively committing violence against labor throughout the developing world on a regular basis.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:10 AM on September 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Imagine the businesses that got smashed up by mob goons had a contract with their landlord that said these mob goons were responsible for security in the building, and then chose not to hire them and instead get some teenaged rent-a-cops to do the job on the cheap. Then, when they arrived at work in the morning to find the mob goons picketting out front, the business owners drove a car into them.

Except, of course, that we don't know for sure that the contract between the landlord and the business (to continue the analogy) actually says that. Which is why the case is currently waiting to be heard in court. And as I've already mentioned that I condemn the contractor AND the police who failed to arrest said person (it's unclear what kind of contractor, but Stagger Lee's article seems to imply it was one of the "scab" union's contractors), but still don't think it justifies this behaviour, I'll leave that alone.

But I *will* mention that back in July, when ILWU members first tore down gates and stormed the facility, to my knowledge nobody had been run down at that point. Nor had the new union even been hired on yet. At that point, all we had was a court case where EGT was contending (perhaps justly, if anigbrowl's reading of things above is correct) that they weren't required by their contract to hire ILWU workers and contending as well (mostly unjustly, as far as I can tell) that it would be too costly.
posted by antifuse at 10:15 AM on September 9, 2011


OK one more time, here's how it's different. Imagine the businesses that got smashed up by mob goons had a contract with their landlord that said these mob goons were responsible for security in the building, and then chose not to hire them and instead get some teenaged rent-a-cops to do the job on the cheap. Then, when they arrived at work in the morning to find the mob goons picketting out front, the business owners drove a car into them.

Yeah, no, that's still wrong. You can use violence in self-defense, but you can't use property destruction. You go to court.

Picketing means impeding the movement of citizens going about their lawful business.
That's not exactly nice either, though the consensus in the US allows it.


Legal picketing doesn't impede the movement of citizens (except perhaps very slightly). The legal picket line is a moral line that people chose to cross or not as a moral decision, not because they'll get beat up if they cross it.
posted by Jahaza at 10:16 AM on September 9, 2011


But I'm with Stagger Lee. Property destruction, alone, isn't enough to de-legitimatize a labor action anymore than destruction of property de-legitimizes the Boston Tea Party. Our Democracy has historically been more--not less--unruly. Consider the following:

In 1952 there were 470 work stoppages or strikes around the country; in 2010 there were 11.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:22 AM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Kuatto: For its own sake capitalism must be restrained.

Truly, It's like a CRACK (eg: Money) addict destroying all good things in his life, family, friends, it's own sanity and physical health all for the sweet fantasy of the CRACK/CAPITAL pipe.

It's way way overdue for an intervention.

I'll start:
Look, Capitalism, I care about you, I think you can do some great things but, honestly the way you've been acting these last 30 years I'm kinda embarrassed to be seen with you. I don't like you or trust you and also you really need to bathe more and stop talking such and endless streak of total fantasist bullshit. Also you're getting dangerously reckless and you threaten to ruin other people's lives and that's intolerable. And you need to begin to take responsibility for yourself.
posted by Skygazer at 10:23 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just to throw this out there, my impression is that being a longshoreman is a highly physical job with a lousy hiring outlook and a high potential for injury. It routinely makes lists of the worst jobs in the USA (often at something like #10, where #1 is usually oil rig worker). I think that has to enter into any discussion about how much they make, and also what it would mean for them to work mandatory 12hr shifts with unpaid overtime.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:25 AM on September 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


From Politico: Despite violence, judge won't stop protest at Wash. port
posted by saulgoodman at 10:30 AM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I forgot to address this:

This is in addition to the fact we are lacking a shitload of context in the lead-up to this incident. It's fine to condemn violence on the whole, but if that's the position we're goign to take it can be done without the political anti-union stance.

I have never said that I am anti-union. I firmly support the rights of ILWU members to picket EGT all they want, IN A LEGAL FASHION. I am anti-asshole, and these guys are kinda acting like assholes for smashing shit up, blocking trains, etc. And as far as I can tell, EGT as a company is being a giant asshole as well, with regards to how they are attempting to get around hiring ILWU workers (among other things). If they managed to score a contract that allows them to get around hiring ILWU workers though, I'm sort of ambivalent about that. Poor work on the part of the Port's lawyers, at the very least. But I guess I'm just not cynical enough to believe that the system is completely rigged to support the big guys, at least not in this case. But we'll see how the court case pans out next year.
posted by antifuse at 10:35 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Property destruction, alone, isn't enough to de-legitimatize a labor action anymore than destruction of property de-legitimizes the Boston Tea Party.

The Boston Tea Party was a revolutionary act against the government. If you're suggesting that breaking the law is a legitimate action, then you must either being saying that the laws you are breaking themselves are unjust or that the government that enforces them is illegitimate. I don't think a lot of people are going to follow you over that hill.
posted by empath at 10:36 AM on September 9, 2011


The longshoremen are back on the job today at the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, but I'm hearing some reports that they're working really slowly, exacerbating the problem of the congestion from the ports having been closed yesterday. If it's true, it's surely not an organized union directive, just individual members taking it upon themselves to make a statement. I look forward to the union leaders holding them to a higher standard of professionalism.
posted by Balonious Assault at 10:38 AM on September 9, 2011


Yeah, no, that's still wrong.

Um, OK? Never said it was the best course of action, and neither has anyone else actually. What I'm saying is that it's nowhere near the same thing as the mafia running extortion rackets, which is a comparison many apparently take no issue with. There has been a lot of equivalence made in this thread between the mafia and labor unions. It's disturbing.


Except, of course, that we don't know for sure that the contract between the landlord and the business (to continue the analogy) actually says that.

It's actually pretty clear in my mind that this was either the intention or the intended appearance of the contract. "...expressly refers the Lessee to..." is not really the same thing as "whatevs, just look it over, you know, no pressure." If EGT is correct in that it was intentionally left vague, then EGT and the Port were being intentionally misleading to the union about the labor agreement. And the port has continued to mislead the union with its letter to EGT expressing that it was clear to them that the agreement and the lease specified the work was to be done with ILWU.

There are times when doing things "in a legal fashion" aren't enough. Sometimes court will allow for a bit of leeway in interpreting contracts when the sophistication of the parties involved is in question. Presumably all parties involved should be expected to be able to handle lease contracts for ports. Maybe someone's lawyers fucked up. Maybe EGT is fucking with them and exploiting what they hope is a loophole. In any event the ILWU workers are getting fucked here, and they are fighting back.
posted by Hoopo at 10:42 AM on September 9, 2011


There are times when doing things "in a legal fashion" aren't enough.

I don't think anyone in this thread disagrees with this statement, but I think some of the "anti-union" (and I am not anti-union generally; I just happen to be unsympathetic to the ILWU in this specific case) crowd in this thread do not think that this is one of those times. Contractual disputes about the terms of work for about 50 employees should be settled in the courts, not with violent direct action.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:51 AM on September 9, 2011


Contractual disputes about the terms of work for about 50 employees should be settled in the courts

I would agree if there wasn't the possibility that this becomes the new norm for ports going forward. There is more at stake here than 50 jobs at this particular facility.
posted by Hoopo at 10:54 AM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Boston Tea Party was a revolutionary act against the government.

Okay, then how about all these others? If you discount every major civil uprising in US history that involved property destruction or economic losses to industry as illegitimate (let alone previous such labor actions), then that really doesn't leave many historical examples of civic activism in the US that actually led to concrete social and political reforms at all. Violence is one thing; economic disruption, holding picket lines, etc., are the standard tools of last resort of organized labor, and have been since the outset (and this was especially true back when the US labor movement made its biggest social and political gains).
posted by saulgoodman at 10:59 AM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Son, we live in a world that has protections for the working class, and those have to be guarded by men with guts. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for EGT, and you curse the longshoremen. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That EGT's profits, though perhaps slipping, would be nothing without our sweat. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, may save our middle class. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on the picket line, you need me spilling that grain. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man and a country that were nourished at the tit of organized labor, and now question the manner in which it is organized. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a club, and stand on the line. Either way, I don’t give a damn what think about property damage.
posted by LiteOpera at 11:03 AM on September 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


That? No, this is violence.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:13 AM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, and if those were the kinds of conditions they were dealing with, I'd be okay with them stringing up their bosses in a noose. But it's a joke to compare the two.
posted by empath at 11:26 AM on September 9, 2011


I would agree if there wasn't the possibility that this becomes the new norm for ports going forward. There is more at stake here than 50 jobs at this particular facility.

*IS* there the possibility that this becomes the new norm for ports going forward, really? It sounds to me like EGT managed to (maybe) score themselves a sweetheart deal with some (possible) legal loopholes. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing that will work twice.
posted by antifuse at 11:31 AM on September 9, 2011


Yes? If one large port project is able to circumvent 80 year-old labour agreements, then I would expect in order to be competitive that other port developpers would use this one as a reason why they shouldn't be required to use ILWU too.
posted by Hoopo at 11:35 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


And it would also give existing ports leverage in any future contract negotiations with ILWU. It very seriously undermines the union's position.
posted by Hoopo at 11:43 AM on September 9, 2011


Yeah, and if those were the kinds of conditions they were dealing with, I'd be okay with them stringing up their bosses in a noose. But it's a joke to compare the two.

Then we don't disagree in principle. Mine was only meant to be the narrower point about the potential legitimacy of these kinds of actions as a matter of principle. Whether it's justified in this particular case is a separate question we might have differing opinions on, because I think you're inclined to view this case very narrowly as concerning one particular union shop's immediate contractual concerns (which is definitely what this is about, on one level), but it's bigger than that. IMO this action has to be viewed in the context of a much broader and longer-term developing conflict between anti-labor interests on the capital side and organized labor in the US. To my mind, the ILWU is making a stand for the cause of equal protection of rights on both sides of contract law, since the courts no longer seem to have an interest in defending that principle.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:48 AM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


ok, now where's Woody Guthrie and his kick ass guitar?

Hey hey Woody Guthrie I wrote you a song
About a funny old world that's coming along
Seems sick and it's hungry, it's tired and it's torn
It looks like it's dying and it's hardly been born.

posted by sweetmarie at 11:50 AM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Violence is one thing; economic disruption, holding picket lines, etc., are the standard tools of last resort of organized labor, and have been since the outset (and this was especially true back when the US labor movement made its biggest social and political gains).

But the people in this thread aren't objecting to picket lines and mostly aren't objecting to economic disruption (which unions do legally by refusing to work). But vandalism, trespassing, and physical intimidation aren't picket lines and refusal to work.
posted by Jahaza at 11:51 AM on September 9, 2011


10 year veteran of the port industry. Lot of odd misconceptions in thread, but the worst is that some people are discussing whether "longshoremen" is a blue collar job or not. That this unironically broached means the person is so out of touch with the entire industry I would discount all of their assertions.

"If they managed to score a contract that allows them to get around hiring ILWU workers though, I'm sort of ambivalent about that"

You support a system that allows the working class to be undermined if the lawyers are quick about it? That trickery should allow people to be screwed. Without hostility, your attitude is a large part of the problem.
posted by anti social order at 11:59 AM on September 9, 2011 [20 favorites]



But the people in this thread aren't objecting to picket lines and mostly aren't objecting to economic disruption (which unions do legally by refusing to work). But vandalism, trespassing, and physical intimidation aren't picket lines and refusal to work.



As I said earlier, the kind of actions you're describing probably aren't being passed down from the union, they're more likely the result of spontaneous shop floor organizing. These people feel that their livelihoods are threatened, and they have more than enough examples in recent American history to back that up. It's one thing to moralize about it on the internet, but keep it in context. These aren't easy choices being made, these are people making hard decisions while under a lot of pressure. Nobody enjoys picket lines and workplace disruption. I really hope that it works out for them.

It's both encouraging to watch and terribly distressing, and maybe that's why things are so charged and polarized even here. The anti-labor elements in the states have been going hog wild in the last couple years, and it's tearing the place apart. Now I'm no American, but I doubt you guys should be using Detroit as a model for your economic future.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:06 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes? If one large port project is able to circumvent 80 year-old labour agreements, then I would expect in order to be competitive that other port developpers would use this one as a reason why they shouldn't be required to use ILWU too.

I would argue that it's not an 80 year old labour agreement that's being circumvented (unless the ILWU was granted a contract 80 years ago to work the port, that is just being granted in perpetuity, which I would also feel like I would have a problem with), but rather the more recent Port/ILWU contract. And presumably, other port developers could TRY to use this as a reason why they shouldn't be required to use ILWU, to which the Port (and ILWU) can quite easily say "Listen, we made a mistake in the drafting of our contract with EGT. A mistake that we are not going to make again. Please go suck a lemon" - of course, this is presuming that they actually DID make a mistake in the contract that they drafted with EGT, which I am not convinced is the case. Nor are the courts convinced. Yet, any way.

You support a system that allows the working class to be undermined if the lawyers are quick about it? That trickery should allow people to be screwed. Without hostility, your attitude is a large part of the problem.

If the Port's lawyers fucked up and allowed a contract with EGT to go through that somehow legally voids ILWU's contract with the Port to work Port lands? Yes, unfortunately I do support a system that upholds legal binding contracts. I also support a system that has the ability to look at said contracts and decide if they actually ARE legal contracts, or if they should be interpreted as the parties say they should, as is happening in this case.
posted by antifuse at 12:11 PM on September 9, 2011


trespassing, and physical intimidation aren't picket lines

What, do you think that the management in previous strikes throughout US history invited the workers to come form a picket line around their building to keep scab workers out and then left out milk and cookies for the striking workers? Because picket lines have always involved at least two of those things, you know... Picketing by definition has always involved trespassing and physical intimidation (since the whole point of a picket line is to keep others from breaking through the line and either working or doing business with the company under a strike), and from the perspective of someone trying to break a picket line, the line itself might be interpreted to represent a form of physical intimidation. Picket lines are not just for show. They're meant to stop business, and always have been. You don't do that by politely getting out of the way.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:12 PM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


And Stagger Lee - I appreciate where you're coming from, but I don't think that most of us condemning the actions of these workers are condemning them from an anti-union standpoint, but rather from an anti-violence standpoint. At least I, personally, am not. I feel like it is a grossly inappropriate reaction to the situation. But I'm not in the situation, I'm just some guy talking about it on the internet, so my opinion isn't really worth shit to anybody but myself. :)
posted by antifuse at 12:13 PM on September 9, 2011


As I said earlier, the kind of actions you're describing probably aren't being passed down from the union, they're more likely the result of spontaneous shop floor organizing.

From the ILWU web site:
Hundreds of port workers stood on railroad tracks today at 4pm, blocking a train carrying grain to a foreign-owned loading facility in Longview, Washington. Workers took action to protest the failure by big grain companies to honor agreements with the local community to provide good jobs in Longview.

“Everyone came to the tracks on their own free will to stand up for justice and protect good jobs in this community, said ILWU President Bob McEllrath, who stood with the volunteers on Wednesday afternoon. “It shouldn’t be a crime to fight for good jobs in America."
When the union president participates and the union brags about it on their web site, the union can't disclaim it's backing of illegal action.
posted by Jahaza at 12:15 PM on September 9, 2011


Saulgoodman, picketing does not by definition involve trespass and physical intimidation. It simply doesn't. Here in New York City, union picketing is usually done on public property (e.g. sidewalks). There's usually lots of people around and it's clear to everyone that no one's going to get a beating if they cross the picket line.

Legal pickets are meant to stop business by persuading people not to cross the picket line. I recognize that that hasn't always been the situation on the ground (indeed, that's the very thing to which I'm objecting).
posted by Jahaza at 12:21 PM on September 9, 2011


While I'm not particularly fond of the smashy-trashy antics, I really fail to see what the big deal is about blocking the train. Blocking the train is high-five-worthy in my book.

But it looks like we're dealing with people arguing for the infallibility of contracts and laws here, so I guess I'm done.
posted by Hoopo at 12:25 PM on September 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


When the union president participates and the union brags about it on their web site, the union can't disclaim it's backing of illegal action.
posted by Jahaza at 12:15 PM on September 9 [+] [!]


Blocking the train isn't "vandalism and physical intimidation" though, that's a lot closer to standard picket line behavior.

My experience has been that trade unions tend to be fairly conservative, and easily coerced. They're subject to massive fines for illegal strikes and such. It tends to be the workers that push the envelope, if you can see the distinction I'm trying to make.

Conversely, if the union itself is actually risking serious legal ramifications to support this strike, then this is serious business indeed.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:32 PM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


When the union president participates and the union brags about it on their web site, the union can't disclaim it's backing of illegal action.

According to published reports, McEllrath also instructed the Longshoremen to leave the tracks, which they then did, save 16 who were arrested and cited.

Leadership can still disclaim responsibility and, indeed, went further by demonstrating its willingness to discourage illegal action.
posted by notyou at 12:36 PM on September 9, 2011


But it looks like we're dealing with people arguing for the infallibility of contracts and laws here, so I guess I'm done.

I'm all for civil disobedience, when the law is unjust. But laws against trespass, vandalism, obstructing trains, etc. aren't unjust.

According to published reports, McEllrath also instructed the Longshoremen to leave the tracks, which they then did, save 16 who were arrested and cited.

He doesn't get a pass on encouraging illegal behaviour just because after he encouraged it he then decided they'd done enough of it.

Leadership can still disclaim responsibility and, indeed, went further by demonstrating its willingness to discourage illegal action.

And then they encourage it again by celebrating it on their web site after the fact.
posted by Jahaza at 12:41 PM on September 9, 2011


I'm all for civil disobedience, when the law is unjust. But laws against trespass, vandalism, obstructing trains, etc. aren't unjust.

The laws that are being violated in acts of civil disobedience aren't always the laws that are the reason for the acts of civil disobedience. Trespassing and obstruction are actually some of the most commonly used forms of peaceful civil disobedience. I think it's possible you do not understand civil disobedience.
posted by Hoopo at 12:49 PM on September 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


Really? Because I've heard lots of people characterize even the most innocuous kinds of picket lines as "physically intimidating." And in recent decades, courts, conservative think tanks and policymakers have been engaged in an all out assault on historical American cultural standards and legal notions of what constitutes public space, too, making it much easier for management to keep striking workers from having any ability to effectively disrupt their business without running afoul of current law.

Most US strikes before the 1980s, when labor began its decline, certainly did involve picketing on private property or far worse forms of civil unrest. Just step through any one of the various online timelines of the US labor movement, and you'll start to get a much more realistic sense for just how common labor actions you might characterize as "illegal" were in the US prior to the concerted efforts to undermine US organized labor in the 80s.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:49 PM on September 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


some of you have too much love for the law -- calling tresspassing vandalism and obstructing trains an 'illegal action' that should be discouraged? Laws against tresspassing / vandalism / and obstructing trains were made to protect the capitalists. How often do you drive your train down the tracks and think, man I'm sure glad it's against the law for people to block my train? When someone takes possession of public lands as part of an agreement to help the public good and then renigs on the deal, you are concerned about the propriety of trespassing on this land?
posted by garlic at 12:49 PM on September 9, 2011 [15 favorites]


sorry. that was meant in response to jahaza here.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:51 PM on September 9, 2011


The laws that are being violated in acts of civil disobedience aren't always the laws that are the reason for the acts of civil disobedience. Trespassing and obstruction are actually some of the most commonly used forms of peaceful civil disobedience. I think it's possible you do not understand civil disobedience.

I think it's possible there is more than one theory of what makes civil disobedience legitimate.

I'm fully aware that trespassing and obstruction are used as peaceful civil disobedience, but I also think it's a distortion of the legitimate form of civil disobedience and immoral.

My point was that I'm not "arguing for the infallibility of contracts and laws."
posted by Jahaza at 1:14 PM on September 9, 2011


some of you have too much love for the law -- calling tresspassing vandalism and obstructing trains an 'illegal action' that should be discouraged? Laws against tresspassing / vandalism / and obstructing trains were made to protect the capitalists. How often do you drive your train down the tracks and think, man I'm sure glad it's against the law for people to block my train?

I bet you eat food delivered by train, drive a car delivered by train (or ride to work on a train), get part of your electricity from power generated by coal delivered by train.

And I bet lots of these longshoreman own houses and wouldn't let me just camp out on their front yard because I feel like it or slash their cars' brake lines.

That's how laws against vandalism, blocking trains, and tresspass protect everyone. Unless you want to overthrow the whole system. But that's a whole 'nother conversation and not the one the ILWU is engaging in, since they're insisting that the contract be enforced in their favor in accordance with its terms (as they see it).
posted by Jahaza at 1:18 PM on September 9, 2011


That's how laws against vandalism, blocking trains, and tresspass protect everyone.

I think you have fallen for the now-common trap of conflating people with corporations. In my mind, Exxon's front lawn is not comparable to Bob's front lawn, though they're both considered "private" property.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:22 PM on September 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


For those downloading documents from PACER: Please consider using the RECAP Firefox extension. It will automatically upload them to the internet archive and the RECAPthelaw archive, and others can download them for free.

See, RECAP the law.
posted by GPF at 1:23 PM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Saulgoodman, historically, we let the Coal and Iron police beat people to death too.

There's no payoff in an argument "labor struggles have always been violent/physical," except in an ethics of "the ends justify the means."

policymakers have been engaged in an all out assault on historical American cultural standards and legal notions of what constitutes public space, too, making it much easier for management to keep striking workers from having any ability to effectively disrupt their business without running afoul of current law.

That's not at all the kind of trespass we're talking about here. The ILWU has explicitly not been prohibited from picketing, they've been prohibited from blockading and from going onto the port to sabatoge equipment. That's not privitization of public space.
posted by Jahaza at 1:27 PM on September 9, 2011


And I bet lots of these longshoreman own houses and wouldn't let me just camp out on their front yard because I feel like it or slash their cars' brake lines.

There's a big difference between someone's yard and a space occupied by an active, public held multinational corporation like EGT.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:29 PM on September 9, 2011


I know you won't agree, but I tend to think if you want to enjoy the privilege of doing business on a large scale with the public, then you have to accept the possibility of the public doing the business right back to you.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:30 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a big difference between someone's yard and a space occupied by an active, public held multinational corporation like EGT.

There needs to be more than a "big difference," there needs to be a relevant difference.
posted by Jahaza at 1:30 PM on September 9, 2011


Most of us see the big difference as relevant. Or the relevant difference as big. I'm not sure what you're saying here.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:36 PM on September 9, 2011


I think you're arguing for "civil obedience," Jahaza. No one "let" the longshoremen block the train. They got arrested. They expected to. That's the whole point. If you are opposing tresspassing and obstruction as a distortion of legitimate civil disobedience, you are opposing some of the tactics that were employed by civil rights activists like Martin Luther King and you are wrong.
posted by Hoopo at 1:40 PM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Most of us see the big difference as relevant. Or the relevant difference as big. I'm not sure what you're saying here.

To make an argument that two ethical cases are different, you have to describe the relevant difference and why it should lead to different ethical rules, not merely assert the undeniable fact that the two cases are different.
posted by Jahaza at 1:43 PM on September 9, 2011


Well, the relevant difference in my mind is what I allude to in my second comment. It's a social and legal privilege to operate a large, publicly-held concern, and it's one that comes with extraordinary reciprocal responsibilities to the public. If you want to exploit the public labor force and public resources to do business, then you shouldn't get to pretend you're throwing a private party.

On the other hand, if you're willing to assume full personal legal and financial responsibility for doing business--i.e., if you don't seek the additional limited personal liability benefits of incorporation and assume the full risks of doing business for yourself, rather than asking the public to assume some of the risks of doings business on your behalf--than that might be a slightly different matter.

But limited liability type organizations really ask a lot of the public, in minimizing the personal liability of their owners and in many cases implicitly leaving it to the public to deal with any catastrophic consequences of their business models. I'd hope we learned that lesson at some point during the financial crisis, Fukushima, and the BP Gulf oil spill.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:46 PM on September 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


And I bet lots of these longshoreman own houses and wouldn't let me just camp out on their front yard because I feel like it or slash their cars' brake lines.


At this point I suspect they're anticipating it.
posted by ocschwar at 1:47 PM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I work for an unrelated company in any unrelated field that employs union technicians. For jobs requiring "Prevailing Wage" A Foreman and an Apprentice are required minimum to do the work. Depending on the project you could have a General Foreman in charge instead, that's the highest pay level. So let's say PW Standard hourly time for a General Foreman is $75 an hour (or $144,000 annual salary). Now out of that $75, $11 goes to Workers Comp and General Liability Insurance, $8 goes to Taxes like FICA, $13 goes to Benefits like Health Insurance, Pension, Vacation/Sick Days, Union Training, and stuff like Union Dues. So the take home wages are $43 an hour. Or $82,560 a year. For the highest possible pay scale. Now these rates are not the ILWU rates, I dont know them. It's still way more than I make but really, things are not always as they appear to be.
posted by sweetmarie at 1:51 PM on September 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


Shoot, I wish I'd known about RECAP yesterday. Well, I've installed it now, at least, and uploaded a few documents. I'll see if it's possible to upload the rest from yesterday manually.
posted by hades at 1:51 PM on September 9, 2011


I think you're arguing for "civil obedience," Jahaza.

No, I'm just arguing for a different understanding of civil disobedience.

No one "let" the longshoremen block the train. They got arrested.

Actually, most of them didn't

They expected to. That's the whole point.

Clearly not, since the ILWU web site is currently indignant about the detenion of their president.

If you are opposing tresspassing and obstruction as a distortion of legitimate civil disobedience, you are opposing some of the tactics that were employed by civil rights activists like Martin Luther King and you are wrong.

The main laws King broke were laws mandating segregation (unjust in their essence) and laws prohibiting parading without a permit, unjust in their application, because they were being used for viewpoint discrimination.

The civil rights protestors who society generally commends today didn't go into segregated stores and break stuff. Laws against breaking stuff weren't unjust.
posted by Jahaza at 1:56 PM on September 9, 2011


Well, the relevant difference in my mind is what I allude to in my second comment. It's a social and legal privilege to operate a large, publicly-held concern, and it's one that comes with extraordinary reciprocal responsibilities to the public. If you want to exploit the public labor force and public resources to do business, then you shouldn't get to pretend you're throwing a private party.

Sure, but how do you get from there to "It's ok to cross their fences, lock up their guards, dump their grain on the ground, block their trains, and sabatoge their equipment." This is not the kind of engagement that they should be required to accept. The kind of engagment they should be required to accept is peaceful non-destructive viewpoint expression protesting, which the court has refused to enjoin and they're free to go on doing.
posted by Jahaza at 1:58 PM on September 9, 2011


This is ridiculous. I actually can't believe what I'm reading right now.
posted by Hoopo at 2:06 PM on September 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is ridiculous. I actually can't believe what I'm reading right now.

I agree. In fact, I'm so incredulous and shocked that I'm mostly staying out of the thread.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:26 PM on September 9, 2011



Sure, but how do you get from there to "It's ok to cross their fences, lock up their guards, dump their grain on the ground, block their trains, and sabatoge their equipment."


Easy. An EGT employee ran over two ILWU picketers and the police refused to arrest him.

Cry 'havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war, as far as I'm concerned.
posted by ocschwar at 2:27 PM on September 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Well, I'm not sure that's exactly where I'm getting to, but basically, I might look at it like this.

To the extent the public at large has an active stake in any limited liability concern, it isn't exactly clear in my mind to whom those physical assets you're talking about actually "belong," in the strictest sense. I mean, they don't belong to any one individual, do they? Private property rights historically inhered to individuals, not to collectives or other kinds of legal entities. Through the legal fiction of corporate personhood, we've granted incorporated entities legal standing to act as if they enjoy the same private property rights, to exactly the same unqualified degree, as private citizens, but that's a logical error. It ignores the limits on personal financial liability that come with limited liability status. A corporation isn't just a group of individuals, whose individual rights extend by logical necessity up to the incorporated entity unaltered: it's a group of individuals who've entered into a special legal arrangement with the state to enjoy certain protections from personal financial liability in order to engage in large scale operations with less personal financial risk.

No one personally owns any of those facilities or equipment that were destroyed; they are owned by a legal entity that should be held answerable to the public it serves. Now obviously, there have to be reasonable limits to this line of thought. But in a hypothetical case where the public clearly does have a legitimate complaint against a going public concern, if the complaints are legitimate, and the amount of economic harm done to the company isn't substantially disproportionate to the economic harm the company has done or is proposing to do to the public (in this case, replacing X number of higher paying jobs with lower paying ones, effectively lowering the overall quality of the labor market, which does not serve the public interest), then all the legal brightlines you want to draw look an awful lot duller to me.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:29 PM on September 9, 2011


Jahaza, your supposition that corporations are due the same rights, privileges, and respect due to them as private citizens is the new one that needs explanation and justification. Historically corporations have had to be granted the privilege of existing by the US government, and originally, those charters could be revoked if the corporations were shown to be acting against the public good. In theory, this is still possible, though one of the Bush administrations tried to get rid of corporate charters on the grounds that they were obsolete. Originally, corporate law was based on protecting the public, not the shareholders.

In the last 10 (20?) years this has been changing at a rate that's shocking to those of us who remember when corporations still tried to pretend they existed for the public good. Thus the onus of explaining why corporations should exist when they are clearly only out for themselves, and not for the community, or the community's workers (one and the same) should on them, not us.

The part that's surprising to me is how quickly this history is being forgotten. If your profile is accurate, you're only 9 years younger than me.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:39 PM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Walmart did a lot more damage to my neighborhood than me stealing a pepsi would do to them, but that doesn't give the right to steal a pepsi, nor should it.

The thing about the social contract is that you give up your right to exact personal revenge for harm done to you as part of the price of living in a relatively free and safe society. If everyone goes around doing whatever the fuck they want because otherwise it's just not fair, you have chaos, looting and (eventually) civil war an the end of civilization.

I'm not saying that this is a slippery slope here, but I'm saying barring incredibly unusual circumstances, people should limit themselves to legal actions, especially, as in the case, when the court case is actually ongoing -- that is, the government enforcers of the social contract havn't even had a chance to live up to their part of the bargain yet.
posted by empath at 2:40 PM on September 9, 2011


Historically corporations have had to be granted the privilege of existing by the US government, and originally, those charters could be revoked if the corporations were shown to be acting against the public good.

If you want to revoke corporate personhood CHANGE THE LAW. It's really that simple Your failure to convince your fellow americans of your policy goals isn't a valid justification to just break shit that doesn't belong to you.

(and for what it's worth, I also would like to see corporate personhood revoked, or at least drastically reduced in scope).
posted by empath at 2:43 PM on September 9, 2011



I'm not saying that this is a slippery slope here, but I'm saying barring incredibly unusual circumstances,


The police allowed an EGT employee to nearly kill two ILWU members.

I fucking hope that's an unusual circumstance.
posted by ocschwar at 2:44 PM on September 9, 2011


CHANGE THE LAW. It's really that simple

Which part is simple? When the power imbalance is this great, that doesn't work the way it's supposed to.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:01 PM on September 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Really, for the past 30 years [...] the economy has become a scab economy. It's now to the point that it's glossed over with patriotism.

And with sophistic defenses of property rights as though they were the highest good, and with descriptions of anticorporate property damage as apocalyptic "violence" while actual police and scab violence are minimized by euphemism or by . Scab Nation, as you've so nicely put it, isn't just Fox News and the Tea Party, but most of American political discourse outside some remaining union strongholds — it's a recognizable faction among soi-disant liberals, even right here on MeFi.
posted by RogerB at 3:04 PM on September 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


sorry, that should be "minimized by euphemism or by being depicted as just."
posted by RogerB at 3:05 PM on September 9, 2011


If you want to revoke corporate personhood CHANGE THE LAW. It's really that simple Your failure to convince your fellow americans of your policy goals isn't a valid justification to just break shit that doesn't belong to you.

Holy crap, you're right! It's a personal failure on my part. Maybe I can get them to legalize pot while I'm at it; that one's really been bugging me. Off to write letters to my MP and sort out all of these labour issues once and for all.
posted by Hoopo at 3:11 PM on September 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


While you're at it, please change the law that makes breaking shit a crime, too.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:13 PM on September 9, 2011


And change the law which makes general and sympathetic strikes unlawful....

And I want a pony! And this time it better be pink!
posted by mikelieman at 3:19 PM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Give me my right to break shit or give me death! They can have my shit-breaking stick when they pry it from my cold, dead hand!
posted by Hoopo at 3:20 PM on September 9, 2011


I'm going to try to link to a few hopefully useful resources that could inject some facts/context into this debate.

There's a long history here, one that a few people have alluded to. In 1916, the Everett Massacre happened. 16-20 Wobblies (IWW) died, along with two citizen deputies. After the massacre, IWW members were essentially run out of the ports, and charged with the murder. Although the charges ultimately didn't really stick, this was a massive blow to the Wobblies in resulted in a round-up based on political ideology. This is important to understanding the current violence- this comes from a long history. Throughout the 20th century there were long, protracted and violent strikes.

If you want to know about the "occupational outlook" for this industry, check the Bureau of Labor Statistics- although the categories are a bit hard to read.

Anyone who thinks stevedores are on their way out has possibly been watching too much of The Wire (R.I.P. Subotka) and not enough Wal-Mart. As long as we're buying cheap Asian-made goods, and Wal-Mart is still the largest company and biggest employer in the US, stevedores will have plenty of work. Wal-Mart had to push (successfully) for the widening of the Panama Canal, to keep up with demand. Who do you think is unloading those Panamax ships?

Don't assumer that traditional "ports" are the place for these jobs. The Port of Chicago is at a crucial node of rivers and major intercontinental railway lines. Tens of thousands of people work there, and almost a trillion dollars worth of goods pass through there every year. A lot of the work is subcontracted and ultimately performed by undocumented workers with illegal wages and working conditions. Most of these workers are temps, making minimum wage or lower.

Also, this case is really complicated because it involves both a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and a commercial lease.
posted by cushie at 3:39 PM on September 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


empath writes "If you want to revoke corporate personhood CHANGE THE LAW. "

Seems like this is a complete non starter short of a successful civil war.
posted by Mitheral at 5:31 PM on September 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's sad how many people will blindly support corporations.
posted by schyler523 at 6:12 PM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm an educated professional, in a salaried job, who can shift jobs fairly easily, and have a lot of my income invested in stocks and bonds... yet I pull less take-home pay than a foreman Longshoreman, if the numbers in this thread are to be believed.

I support the ILWU.

Why?

Nobody wins in a race to the bottom, that's why. The radical right doesn't get it, but I'm protecting my investments.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:38 PM on September 9, 2011 [15 favorites]


Nobody wins in a race to the bottom

That's loser talk. you're just jealous cuz I got there first.
posted by Hoopo at 7:51 PM on September 9, 2011


When you get to the bottom, you'll see me looking up.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:11 PM on September 9, 2011


Standing on the shoulders of the truly oppressed! (Giants)
posted by Peztopiary at 10:53 PM on September 9, 2011


Glad I wasn't around when this thread started because I'm fairly sure I would have flamed out by now at some of the idiocy being bandied around.

Then I was going to write about my personal journey from anti-union to pro-union to illustrate just how wrong some of you are but fuck it, if you can't see it and you're over 22 years of age, then you're a privileged, spoiled schmuck. Put down the Ayn Rand and stop listening to Ann Coulter. And pray your life of privilege never goes down the shitter.

Finally, those of you tut-tutting over the very minor violence that occurred, let me say that when a giant, highly profitable, faceless corporation tells you that they're intent on keeping you in a rented apartment, making sure you have to drive a ten year old car and that the only vacations you'll ever have involves going tent camping for the three days a year that you're allowed as contiguous days off AND they're doing their damnedest to make sure your children go to shit schools, eat shit food, see their two working parents rarely and the only way they're going to college is to acquire $150k in debt because you're not going to be able to chip in and your first reaction isn't to demonstrate against these corporate assholes then you deserve exactly what you're going to get. And if a couple of windows get broken or some security guards wet themselves, that's just the price of moving the cause of labor forward.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 2:11 AM on September 10, 2011 [15 favorites]


...if you can't see it and you're over 22 years of age, then you're a privileged, spoiled schmuck. Put down the Ayn Rand and stop listening to Ann Coulter. And pray your life of privilege never goes down the shitter.

If you're really trying to bring people around to your side of the debate here, this is not the kind of language that is going to do it.

- a 24 year-old privileged, spoiled shmuck
posted by Aizkolari at 8:08 AM on September 10, 2011


stop listening to Ann Coulter.

But she's the only one with the courage to fight America's real enemies, like those horrible kindergarten teachers.
posted by homunculus at 10:56 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you're really trying to bring people around to your side of the debate here, this is not the kind of language that is going to do it.

There IS no way to bring some of you around. People here are bending over backwards to justify taking an anti-union stance here. We have seen people comparing unions to the mafia and and anyone discussing the relationship of labor to management as Marxists. We have seen people arguing against all of the established weapons in unions' arsenals that they have always used to fight for their workers, that the only avenues available to them should be going to court, and if workers get totally screwed in a misleading contract it's just too fucking bad. I don't know anyone that would even take this stance with a cell phone provider, let alone your fucking only source of income. I'm seeing people imply that it's OK for EGT to put unions in competition with one another and that if one undercuts another that's OK and you shouldn't look down on the interloper. I'm pretty sure someone has even argued that the support for the ILWU is at odds civil society when my understanding was that labour unions are an established part of it, but I'm not sure I really understood the comment.

Some of you have convinced yourselves that holding these views doesn't make you anti-union. You would declaw unions and you say they lack morals for fighting to maintain workers rights. I don't think you can be left of center and not support labor unions. This thread has been a real eye-opener for me.
posted by Hoopo at 2:28 PM on September 10, 2011 [17 favorites]


I don't think you can be left of center and not support labor unions.

You mean 'not support everything labor unions do.' In the real world, people sometimes care about details and don't automatically pick sides based on who is doing the arguing.
posted by empath at 4:14 PM on September 10, 2011


No, that's not what I mean at all and that's not what I'm doing. I don't see many people here advocating what these guys did, and I've actually spoken against it if you've been reading what I've put in here..

BTW I'm not the one who came in here picking sides based on some bullshit about mafia ties, so don't tell me about "in the real world."
posted by Hoopo at 6:01 PM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Life being perpetually unfair does not excuse vandalism, or any other crime.

At some point in the distant past, land became property when someone took something that should have belonged to everyone. I suppose I'm a bit of a hypocrite, since I now own my own house. Nonetheless, I am sympathetic to the notion that property is theft, or at least that often, greatly centralized wealth and property is probably theft.

Either way, the only reason that the general populace has things like workers' rights, social services, education, etc. is because in the past they made it sufficiently painful (through violence, vandalism, protests, and strikes) for the ruling class to not offer these things. Conservatives can go ahead and bemoan the New Deal as much as they'd like, but without it the USA could easily have become a socialist state. During the late 20s and early 30s there really was a sufficient amount of sympathy to that cause; it was only when the US started getting serious about providing jobs and wealth to the poor that the danger of a strong socialist movement dissipated.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:03 PM on September 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, in Britain: The head of Britain's biggest union has urged a campaign of strikes and civil disobedience to fight government cuts.
posted by homunculus at 4:09 PM on September 11, 2011


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