Militant Longshoreman No. 19

Militant Longshoreman

No. 19,   March 13, 1987

Herman, Liddle, Estrada
Endanger Inland Boatmen’s Strike
Against Crowley!

Going into the fourth week of their strike against Crowley’s union busting the IBU-ILWU has stopped most of Crowley’s struck West Coast operations. With the help of longshoremen and clerks all Crowley tug docking and undocking and bunkering of ships worked by ILWU members has been stopped cold. A major victory was won when two struck Crowley barges brought from Hawaii by scabs sat idle in Oakland when longshoremen and clerks refused to work behind mass IBU pickets. On March 4 Coast arbitrator Sam Kagel upheld the union’s contention that Crowley had extended the struck site to his barges even when they were docked at Howard Terminal and Berth 10, and that the contract picket line language precluded PMA from forcing us to work the struck barges.

The main danger that threatens the Boatmen’s strike is the apparent fear of Jimmy Herman, Don Liddle, and the IBU leadership that a tough, effective militant strike will antagonize Crowley and make it impossible to “cut a deal” with the company. The IBU leaders tried to stop or delay a coastwise strike, kept vital information from the rank-and-file, and threw militants off the strike committee in Puget Sound and the Bay Area. IBU Regional Director, Rich Estrada, suppressed information that the two Hawaii Marine Lines barges had-been loaded in Hawaii when the longshoremen capitulated to a court injunction. We still don’t know whether Herman and Liddle ordered IBU pickets of the barges in Hawaii after the injunction came down; but you can be damn sure that Herman ordered the longshoremen to load those scab barges. IBU rank-and-filers have been unable to find out to what extent the struck Crowley barge trade to Alaska is still operating. Estrada dragged his feet, held back the documents and paperwork on the barges and handicapped the Local 34 and Local 10 officers in preparing for the arbitrations when PMA ordered clerks and longshoremen to work behind IBU picket lines.

Estrada Purges Strike Committee

Finally, on his own “authority”, Estrada removed George Gutekunst and Jack Heyman from the elected strike committee in spite of the widely recognized fact that they had organized an unusually effective strike in the Bay Area and had built excellent working relations with the clerk and longshore locals. The IBU Regional Executive Board ordered new elections and Gutekunst and Heyman were re-elected with the highest votes from their units.

One sinister and alarming result of the recent IBU elections is the placing of Estrada’s ally Doug Crute on the strike committee. Doug Crute  is the former regional Director of the IBU who was censured by his own membership for grossly racist remarks at a membership meeting. Is this an attempt to disrupt longshore local 10’s support for the boatmen’s strike?

Liddle’s Pipe Dream —Cut A Deal With Crowley

Herman, Liddle, and the IBU leadership are trying to strangle and defuse the membership’s determination to win this strike, and to save their jobs and their union. Crowley openly advertised for and hired scabs days before the strike and has made no bones about his intention to gut the union. The IBU leaders had by their own admission 15% concessions on the table when the strike broke out and have given every indication that they are willing to go even further in a desperate attempt to cut a deal. They, are afraid that militant strike tactics will escalate the conflict to where Crowley will not be open to even major give-aways.

Nice Guys Don’t Win!

What the IBU membership needs to understand is what we in longshore learned decades ago. The only way to protect the membership is to be willing to go as far as necessary to economically hurt the employer when he’s trying to smash you. It’s all a question of power – not wheeling and dealing. Crowley has departed from the fourty years of class collaboration since Taft Hartley that has dominated maritime labor relations. Crowley defeated the ILA in three ports on the Gulf and South Atlantic wiping out longspore union jurisdiction on his barge operations. When he bought Delta Lines he fired the entire Master, Mates and Pilots crews, ordering them hauled off ships by Federal Marshalls. Crowley will only sign acceptable contracts with the IBU if he’s hurt economically!

George Gutekunst and Jack Heyman issued a joint election statement which has most of the ingredients for what they call a “Program for Victory”. A) Winning support and cooperation from longshoremen and clerks. B) Mass Picketing to stop scab operations. CJ Defiance of court injunctions, that would limit mass picketing or allow scab operations.

Tell the Truth:
Herman and Liddle Will Snatch Defeat From the Jaws of Victory!

Unfortunately, the two brothers did not clearly warn their membership in their election statement that Herman, Liddle, Estrada and their cronies will sabotage such a winning strategy short of victory, because they don’t believe it’s possible to win in open battle. Gutekunst and Heyman failed to advise the IBU membership that they, the rank-and-file, will have to control the strike, overrule or replace their leadership when they try to sow confusion and demoralization in the ranks. Even if the ranks didn’t like to hear this necessary criticism of their leadership they must be told the truth if the strike is to be won.

After he purged the strike committee and took over its functions Estrada failed to inform Local 10 officers that three more H.M.L. barges had been loaded in Hawaii and were headed for the West Coast, and that Crowley had gone to the NLRB to get a Federal Court order overruling the ILWU-PMA contract grievance procedure and ordering longshoremen and clerks to work the scab barges! Crowley scab barges will shortly be tied up in three areas on the West Coast. If the IBU and the long-shore division capitulate to court injunctions it will be a major blow to an otherwise effective strike. We can expect no help from Herman and the Coast Committee. In both the Richmond Levin action and the Longshore South African cargo boycott the International sided with the PMA in finding Local 10 in violation of the contract leaving us open to legal actions.

Mass Picket Lines to Smash Court Ordered Scabbing!

If injunctions come down longshoremen and clerks will have to pull everyone out and join the IBU picket lines coastwise. If Crowley breaks the IBU he’s sure to ignore our jurisdiction and start working barges (and even ships) at so-called industrial docks utilizing non-ILWU workers at 1/4 to 1/3 our wages and benefits!