Militant Longshoreman No. 21

Militant Longshoreman

No. 21,   June 1, 1987



As the Inland Boatmen’s Strike against Crowley Maritime goes into the fourth month with the ranks solid, Crowley has begun to perform longshore work with scabs. Saturday, May 19, Crowley worked a barge with commercial cargo for Alaska at the non-union Seaways terminal in Seattle using a company called MEGA to do the stevedoring. The IBU picketed Seaways but the barge got loaded. When we shut down the port and ran off the scabs in Redwood City, Crowley was effectively put out of the lucrative Hawaiian barge trade. One of the three barges we stopped was worked under a court order in Portland in April, but the other two barges remained tied up at Redwood City. Encouraged by the failure of the IBU and longshore division to stop the Seaways scab operations Crowley took those two barges from Redwood City last Thursday. They are headed north, probably to Seaways in Seattle or some other industrial dock.

Meanwhile Crowley is moving in the courts and before the NLRB to challenge the right of IBU to picket their operations and to challenge the right of longshoremen to refuse to scab on the IBU.

International Tries to Defuse Strike

Picketing of oil barges was ordered stopped over a month ago. When the San Francisco Region IBU members picketed in Long Beach to stop Crowley’s bunkering and oil barge operations Rubio lied to the longshoremen and clerks, telling them that there was a blanket injunction against the IBU in Los Angeles, He then ordered locals 13 and 64 to go through IBU picket lines! It didn’t work. Clerks and longshoremen walked off two ships. Since then Crowley’s L.A.bunkering operations have been stopped cold.

The International has been begging top Crowley officials to offer, any kind of a take-away, union-busting contract which they can then force on the union. There are indications that Herman is even willing to abandon the 153 Masters, Mates A Pilots who have been honoring the IBU picket lines against Crowley in the Puget Sound area. The International apparently believes that the only way to get Crowley to abandon their union-busting campaign is to act like reasonable gentlemen, to pull down picket lines and allow Crowley to make money with scabs. In early April the International allowed over 150 vans with Crowley cargo to go Hawaii on US Lines ships. Crowley has a 10% in US Lines. The San Francisco IBU strike committee and ranks weren’t even informed that the vans had been “cleared”.

When the IBU members protested this sabotage of their strike the International began to to completely take over running the strike. In a trick that has “Herman” written all over it, the IBU called an election (within four days!) for a coastwise “Strike Director’, with the power to overrule any decision of the rank and file or elected strike committee. San Francisco elected strike committee members and militants were warned that if they put their criticism of the leadership on paper they would be brought up on charges. Longshore and clerk locals were told by the International to talk only to the top IBU leadership and to take a “hands off” attitude toward the strike.

The IBU Strike Is Our Strike

The “Journal of Commerce” recently had a long article describing how Crowley successfully broke the ILA longshoremen in three East Coast ports and that he is building more docks and facilities to take away even more work from the ILA. A Crowley promotional document issued in May describes how the company is in stevedoring business on the West Coast. When the Hyundai-controlled Pittsburgh steel plant finishes putting up those  container cranes, we can expect Crowley to take over the stevedoring there — not just to handle steel products – but general stevedoring, Crowley recently bought two ships, manned by $40 a day CMU seamen, which are on their way to the West. Coast

The very existence of our union is at stake. If Crowley is not stopped now other non–PMA companies will go into business taking our work away. PMA will demand major concessions from us so that they can compete with non-union sub-standard stevedoring companies.

The only way to defeat Crowley’s union busting is to escalate the strike, to shut down all Crowley operations on the West Coast. The IBU rank and file will have to insurrect, to take back control of their own strike, and to stop Crowley’s 450 oil barges at Richmond, Martinez, and Pittsburgh. Only mass pickets can stop the cops from smashing picket lines. That means we’ll have to shut down all West Coast ports where Crowley is operating and bring all men out to defend the IBU picket lines. We must get support of other workers from organized labor on the picket lines to defend our unions against court orders and police attacks. The militant action of Boatmen and waterfront ILWU members in running the scabs off the dock in Redwood City sent a wave of hope and enthusiasm through the Bay Area labor movement. Workers who have seen their strikes broken or who have been forced by their timid leaders to accept major take-aways are waiting for someone to resurrect the tactics of union solidarity/mass pickets to stop scabbing and to defeat court and police strike breaking.

The first line of defense of our own jobs starts on the IBU picket lines. Every Crowley scab operation must be stopped, beginning with Seaways. This is the most severe task our union has faced since the 1948 strike. If we don’t stop Crowley now our jobs will disappear, our pensions will be undermined, and the wages and conditions for the few remaining PMA jobs will be forced down to non-union levels.