Rev. Jackson rallies West Coast dock workers.
September 3, 2002 10:17 AM   Subscribe

Rev. Jackson rallies West Coast dock workers. I'm proud of Jesse for this action. The workers are only averaging $80K per annum and foreman are averaging only $167K per. I'm surprised he didn't try to do the same for the MLBPA.
posted by flatlander (19 comments total)
It is always easy to belittle a potential strike among those who make what seems a very nice salary. I am old enough to recall having talked to a friend's father when I was in high school. He told me that he was a longshoreman and that when they first began to organize in NY, the cops would come around and bust up meetings...They fought back and prevailed. Those union types with nice salaries have those salaires because they have unions. Without, their jobs would now be filled by illegal aliens working at minimum wage, if that, and without benefits.
A good way to judge a salary is to ask how much management makes and note the difference.
posted by Postroad at 10:21 AM on September 3, 2002

I, too, have friends who've worked as longshoremen. It's hard and dangerous work even with the automation and monster cranes. One guy I know wrecked his back and is on disability from now on. And dragging Jesse Jackson in for the slime-by-association is rather trollish.
posted by y2karl at 10:28 AM on September 3, 2002

[A good way to judge a salary is to ask how much management makes and note the difference.]

No, a good way to judge a salary is to compare it to others in your field. Compare your responsibilities, hours involved, benefits, etc.
posted by revbrian at 10:36 AM on September 3, 2002

The best way to judge salary is to stop worrying about what other people make and confine yourself to asking if you are happy with what you make.
If you are happy, great, who cares what a longshoreman makes? If you are not happy, then perhaps you should work to change your salary and stop blaming it on the Reverend.
posted by Fabulon7 at 10:56 AM on September 3, 2002

These certainly are some of the highest-paid workers represented by unions (see also air traffic controllers). It's skilled labor, and even in the face of slumping world trade, they remain in high demand. But I'm not sure I'd want to play chicken just now. The much-discussed container pile-up {self-link} is largely due to a number of shipping concerns operating on the edge, and a work stoppage alone, let alone future wage increases, could topple a number of employers. Transportation is a pretty marginal industry; cf. CF.
posted by dhartung at 11:06 AM on September 3, 2002

Personally, I think anything the self-ordained, self-serving "Rev." Jackson does should be subject to scrutiny and critique, regardless of the seeming caring-for-the-downtrodden he'd like to exude. Based on his historical performances, his motives should always be suspect. The fact is that there's a reason causes and people he espouses get slimed-by-association - it's because he's slime. Organizations that don't want to get slimed as collateral damage should politely show him the door and represent themselves. That's why their union management gets the big bucks. Sorry, y2karl - I've got no sympathy, trollish or otherwise.
posted by Pressed Rat at 11:12 AM on September 3, 2002

Here's a great picture for some perspective.

I think this was a particularly thin AP story (and resulting post). *One line* at the bottom about the issues involved? What are we supposed to discuss here without additional links? The Seattle Times is meatier, as you might expect for West Coast news. Less snark and a few minutes of research before posting news stories to the front page, please.

Pacific Business Journal's take:
There is pressure, especially from global corporations used to more modern facilities in other nations, on West Coast ports to modernize and do a better job of coordinating cargo at the dock. But the pressure also comes from nearby residents complaining of noise and fumes from long lines of trucks waiting to load or unload freight, and, more recently, from federal homeland security officials who think lines of trucks with their engines running could conceal a security threat.

And here's more info about why the feds might get involved:
West Coast ports are a linchpin of the nation's economic prosperity. A shutdown would send a shiver through the economy, especially because many holiday-time products are imported over the summer and ever- leaner U.S. firms have slimmed inventories to keep costs down.

Port of Seattle's reaction to the strike
Past tensions between ILWU and PMA
One global shipper's response:
Should PMA [the shipping industry trade association] choose to close the ports this week [if workers begin a slowdown], we would expect the Bush Administration to take several days before invoking the Taft-Hartley law, if they choose to do so. Even under Taft-Hartley we should all expect major delays for the foreseeable future.
posted by mediareport at 11:15 AM on September 3, 2002

On judging slaries: of course it is nice to say I do such and such because I love it and I care not that I get a lousy salary and am not able to afford what many others can. Good, if that is right for you.
And judging by what others in your field make is fine if you consider cost of living etc in the city in which you live compared to less or more expensive places ...lafter all, 50 thousand in NY City is not much of an income these days; the same amount in Tampa is decent. But juding by others in your field gets complicated: a teacher in NY has "other" things to deal with compared to a much better paid teacher in Stamford, Ct.
I merely use the management standard to note the disparity between the top and those under it.
Note: The U.S. and South Africa are the only 2 industrialized nations allowing for permanent replacement of strikers by scabs. And then, too, a friend is going next week to live and work in Holland. Their medical coverage is far and away well beyond what most get in our country. They are heavily taxed to pay for it. But their view is that the lowest in the country ought to receive the best medical help that the better can also receive. Commies!
posted by Postroad at 12:45 PM on September 3, 2002

Well, back in Nebraska 80k may sound like a lot, but out in the SF Bay Area it's barely a living wage(I make 70k and live 70 miles from where I work because housing is so expensive). You can't own a house on the peninsula with that salary unless you live in East Palo Alto or something, and then you deal with gangs and gunfire and such. Alternately you force the significant other to work, nobody watches the kids, and they grow up like Lord of the Flies. I think LA is a little better but still, 80k in Costal CA doesn't buy nearly what 80k in the heartland, or even the CA central valley does... And of course it's a little impractical for a longshoreman to live in the heartland or central valley, the commute is murder...
posted by ehintz at 12:48 PM on September 3, 2002

"cf. CF."

Dan, you've been waiting for months to use that, haven't you?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:52 PM on September 3, 2002

Is it just me or does anyone else here find it more than just a little bit ironic, not to say outright disingenuous, that over on Fark, is this article bout the Teamster's building their new Houson union hall with non-union labor because using the union would have cost too much?
posted by Pressed Rat at 12:58 PM on September 3, 2002

Uh, that would be this
I believe
posted by Pressed Rat at 1:01 PM on September 3, 2002

workers of the world unite!,6903,764328,00.html
posted by Postroad at 1:32 PM on September 3, 2002

Would it be disingenuous for someone to support unions but also acknowledge that unions lead to higher costs? I don't think so. If costs are important to you, then you can work to eliminate unions, I suppose. Or, you could make sure to hire illegal imm igrants to drive costs down. Hell, maybe child labor or slaves would drive costs even lower. Exclusive reliance on the cost arguments leads to a world of pretty awful working conditions (for everyone).

Unions aren't there to cut costs, they're there to assure decent working conditions for their members. The Teamsters in Texas seem to have other ideas. Jesse Jackson is right to support the Longshoremen on the West Coast. After all, what's the advantage of an $80K salary if you've lost your job? That is, after all, partly what is at stake in the current negotiations.Ï
posted by smrtsch at 2:46 PM on September 3, 2002

but out in the SF Bay Area it's barely a living wage(I make 70k and live 70 miles from where I work because housing is so expensive)

man, hate to be so OT, but i make well under half that (wellllll under) and i live in the city itself. Sure: you've got to give up some things, like living in the "nicest" (most gentrified) neighborhood in sf, and heck no, I couldn't have any dependents (not even a dog, really) on that sort of salary, but to say that 70k is not a living wage??? If I was making 70k i'd be living it up! of course, this is all applicable to your situation (i'm guessing you have a family to support, otherwise -- well, i'm not shedding any tears.)

home ownership in CA? Let's just say a *lot* of people are going to be disappointed soon. If you don't want to start moving into "the ghettos" (which you should, because i'm guessing they're going to gentrify right quick during the next 10 years or so, as people get pushed out of what is now, essentially, prime real estate) i think you'd be lucky to even get a place in Sacramento. Or even *near* Sacramento.

myself? i'm moving to newfoundland... Keep in mind those prices are in Canadian dollars, so figure about 2/3rds is US dollar value.

check out this article for more on newfoundland. i don't know, i'm sold. I just have to figure out how to freelance from an island.

posted by fishfucker at 3:09 PM on September 3, 2002

oops. meant to say "this might not be applicable to your situation".
posted by fishfucker at 3:37 PM on September 3, 2002

crash: Nah, pure serendipity. But solve cryptic crosswords all the time and your mind just naturally starts working like that.
posted by dhartung at 4:35 PM on September 3, 2002

No, a good way to judge a salary is to compare it to others in your field.

Well, you have to judge others in your field, first; and the accident record of dock managers who've replaced union labour with temporary and contract workers is, consistently, shameful. Same with the contracting-out of river pilots. But deaths and injuries usually don't make too much of a dent in the cost-benefit analysis, particularly when the victims are casual labour, without the legal protection of full-timers. Because I'm sure that those who begrudge the dockers' wages wouldn't have the balls to do their jobs, even for that money.
posted by riviera at 4:36 PM on September 3, 2002

Pressed Rat: Thanks for that story. With pardonyou?'s link in the Labor Day thread, it's a perfect reminders of the corruption and hypocrisy that have been part of U.S. labor history for decades. Still doesn't invalidate the importance of worker organizing against cruel workplaces and/or greedy managers, though.
posted by mediareport at 7:54 PM on September 3, 2002

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