Militant Longshoreman No.2
No.2, January 29, 1982
Build A Fighting Union
ELECT KEYLOR AND GOW CAUCUS DELEGATES
Brothers may be surprised that Howard Keylor and the MILITANT LONGSHOREMAN urge Local 10 members to vote for Stan Gow after his hysterical, leaflet of January 6 attacking the editor. The MILITANT LONGSHOREMAN supports candidates for union office on the basis of their program, not on their tactical sense or their effectiveness. I hope that Local 10 longshoremen will again follow my advice, as they did January 8 when they reelected both Keylor and Gow to the Executive Board with the highest percentage vote we’ve ever received.
SETBACK FOR BUILDING ALTERNATE CLASS-STRUGGLE LEADERSHIP
Their is no denying that the attempt of the LONGSHORE – WAREHOUSE MILITANT CAUCUS to destroy and discredit Keylor represents a setback in the struggle to promote those principles of Militant Trade Unionism which can help to build the alternative class-struggle leadership our union so desperately needs. The frantic and dishonest misrepresentation of Keylor’s positions on a whole range of important issues tends to discredit the Caucus, the LONGSHORE MILITANT, and Brother Gow and makes it increasingly unlikely that they will be able to build an alternative leadership.
KEYLOR’ S NON-EXISTENT “DIFFERENCES”
It’s impossible to completely counteract the lies and distortions about my positions that are contained in the MILITANT CAUCUS leaflet. For every word of slander I would have to use 10 words of factual description in order to set the record straight. Nevertheless, it could be useful to describe some of the background to my resignation from the MILITANT CAUCUS in November 1981.
Stan’s leaflet says that “Keylor no longer supports the MILITANT CAUCUS prograrn!” The fact is that until the November 1981 Caucus meeting where the votes had been lined up to pass a motion forbidding me to run for reelection to the Local 10 Executive Board and the Coast longshore Caucus, none of the issues dealt with in Stan’s leaflet were raised or discussed in a Caucus meeting: No differences on program between myself and the Caucus existed then or exist now!.
So what is behind this hysterical attack on me? I had developed differences early last year with same Caucus members on issues which did not involve the union or the Caucus program. Those differences led the Caucus leadership to engage in a campaign of character assassination outside the Caucus, leading up finally to the meeting where they demanded that I cooperate in my own political suicide in the union. At that meeting I told the Caucus that I could best advance the program of the Caucus by running independantly for reelection and. continuing to argue for those principles and actions that could defend the union and advance working class solidarity.
KEYLOR FOUGHT FOR CAUCUS PROGRAM IN 1981 CONTRACT
It would be much easier to set the record straight if Stan and I had been permitted to issue a LONGSHORE MILITANT after the April contract coast caucus, which formulated contract demands and than turned them over to the Negotiating Committee. Keylor was successful at the April Caucus in getting motions on the floor for debate and a vote on a whole range of issues vital to the union including:
100 % Cost of Living formula in pension contract
Abolish all Master Contract sections allowing steady equipment operators
Honor all union picket lines
Abolish “work as directed” and arbitration sections of the contract grievance procedure
Abolish 20.61 allowing PMA to cancel PGP for alleged union actions
I argued after the April Caucus that it was vital to issue a LONGSHORE MILITANT warning the membership that the coast caucus had failed to put together a contract program which could unite the membership for a strike to get what we need and that in fact the caucus had left everything (including the right to extend the contract past July) in the hands of a Negotiating Conmittee dominated by 6 International officers. I wrote an outline fora leaflet but the MILITANT CAUCUS refused to. allow it to be printed. The Caucus leadership dismissed the outline with the cynical comment “we’re not. an informational bureau, besides it’s boring.” This was the first tine in the history of the LONGSHORE MILITANT that we had not issued a leaflet to prepare the membership in advance for a contract fight.
LONGSHORE MILITANT SILENT ON INTERNATIONAL -CONVENTION
After the June International Convention in Hawaii I wanted to issue a LONGSHORE MILITANT, warning the membership that the union leadership was falling in behind Reagan’s anti-Soviet war drive, refused to support military victory for the worker and peasant supported leftist insurgents in El Salvador, continued to rely on the capitalist courts and cops to stop the KKK and Nazis, and blocked even a floor discussion on the need for a workers’ party. Again the Caucus refused to issue a leaflet leaving the membership in the dark about the direction the union was taking.
It’s apparent now that the real reason for the refusal to issue leaflets on the caucus and convention was to “disappear” Keylor as much as possible, making it easier to rewrite later the history of Keylor’s role as Local 10 delegate.
HOW TO DEFEAT THE SEO CANCER – ACTION OR ABSTRACTION
Keylor was the only Local 10 delegate to vote against attempts to modify the SEO system at the April Caucus. Brother Gow has been making a big thing out of the fact that in Item 1 of my program I demand: “Call all SEO men back to the hall. Dispatch all skilled equipulent jobs from the hall.” Is Brother Gow, opposed, to this action? Does he advise us to wait until the contract is open in 1984? Doesn’t Stan remember that in previous non-cmtract years we, the LONGSHORE MILITANT, advised smashing this section of the contract in practice rather than suffering three more years?
After the September membership meeting I realized that I had made a mistake when I said that I would probably vote for Brother Reg Theriault’s motion to limit SEO men from driving rolling stock against the ship. At that meeting I argued (to a lot of applause) that it was impossible to simply modify the system; that any fight could only succeed if it upped the ante to call all SEO men back to the hall. I spoke before Brother Gow whose comments were largely unintelligible, so I don’t know what he said. After that meeting I argued that when the issue came before the Executive Board, we should vote against Brother Theriault’s motion and came up with a practical alternative motion to call SEO men back to the hall.
POLAND – INTERNATIONAL OFFICERS LINE UP WITH COUNTERREVOLUTION
Brother Gow’s January 6 leaflet tries. to link Keylor’s June 1981 position on Poland with Reagan’s anti-Soviet war drive. But it is unclear from his leaflet how Brother Gow sees the International officers December 21 statement deploring the Polish Anny’s smashing of Solidarity’s moves toward counterrevolution.
I have no intention of ducking the issue of Polish Solidarity. It is a tragedy that the bulk of the Polish working class was led by their hatred of the incompetent, repressive, Polish government bureaucracy to support the clerical-nationalist moves to take Poland out of the Warsaw Pact and lay the basis for the restoration of capitalism. The Polish. workers would have been in far worse shape if Solidarity had brought the Polish economy under western capitalist control, and a civil war had developed, in which the most right-wing catholic-nationalists had seized political power.
KEYLOR AND THE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLER’S STRIKE – A DELIBERATE LIE
It’s painful to have to say that Brother Gow’s January 6 leaflet lies when it says that Keylor was for consumer boycotts and against labor solidarity action to shut down the airports. At strike support meetings, at Executive Board meetings, and elsewhere Keylor argued vehenently that only the united power of mass labor picket lines could shut down the airports and win the strike of the air traffic controllers.
MILITANT CAUCUS ATTACK ON KEYLOR – THE REAL PURPOSE
Some Brothers commented that the famous January 6 MILITANT CAUCUS attack on Keylor sounded unbelievable and at times incomprehensible.
That’s right – the leaflet was not written for longshoremen! The leaflet was written for a wider audience than Local 10; it was designed to be reprinted and quoted from in publications addressed to the left in Chicago, Toronto, Melbourne, Hamburg, Paris and London. The lies and distortions contained therein could be used to discredit Keylor outside the union. Waterfront workers know enough about these issues to detect the inaccuracies strained arguments and conclusions.
RUN OFF ELECTION – NO CHOICE
The January primary election showed that none of the leading contenders for full time union office have anything approaching a real mandate from the membership. This is not surprising, since none of the leading candidates or groups competing for office have a program to unite the membership, in defending us against the employers and their government.
THE GIBSON CASE – COAST UNITY AGAINST THE CAPITALIST COURTS IS THE ISSUE
Brother Gow in his election leaflet ducked the question of the Gibson case, where the issue is coast longshore unity against lawsuits, which threaten our hiring hall. The Local 10 politicians have cynically created such anger and hysteria around this issue that it’s not surprising that Brothers who know better have hidden out on this question. I hope Brother Gow will see fit to publicly support a move for local 10 to pay our share of the coastwise costs of this anti-union lawsuit.
WHERE IS THE MILITANT CAUCUS GOING?
The LONGSHORE – WAREHOUSE MILITANT CALICUS, appears to be giving up on the task of building a principled class-struggle caucus in longshore. Their attitude towards Keylor reveals a position that no one who does not subject himself to the discipline of the MILITANT CAUCUS can provide honest leadership to the union – that anyone who finds it counter-productive to militant trade unionism to remain in the Caucus must be discredited and destroyed.
We still face the task of building the core of an alternative class-struggle leadership in the ILWU.