Militant Longshoreman No. 1
No. 1 December 31, 1981
Re-Elect KEYLOR and GOW to Executive Board
This is the first issue of the MILITANT LONGSHOREMAN edited and published by Howard Keylor. For more than six years Keylor (along with Brother Stan Gow) published the LONGSHORE MILITANT. We presented a working class analysis of longshoremen’s place in the world and put forward a class struggle program for waterfront workers. The MILITANT LONGSHOREMAN endorses the re-election of Brother Gow to the Executive Board of Local 10 and supports the program outlined in the December 18 issue of the LONGSHOIRE MILITANT.
REAGAN’ S ANTI -SOVI ET WAR DRIVE
It’s becom comunplace for some brothers to argue that the union has no business discussing and taking positions or actions on El Salvador, South Africa, or Poland since the union is growing weaker and less effective in even defending our own jobs and working conditions. But it’s the same kind of union leadership which refuses to take on PMA that also refuses to take effective solidarity actions to defend workers in the U.S. and refuses to take positions that would point the way to defending the interests of workers internationally.
Reagan’s moves to strangle Nicaragua, support the junta.’s butchery of El Salvadorian workers and peasants, and blockade Cuba lead directly toward nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The vast U.S. arms build-up represents the goal of American capitalism to eliminate the U.S.S.R. as the main deterrant to U.S. imperialism’s drive to wipe out the gains of workers everywhere.
The unwillingness of the ILWU leadership to confront Reagan’s war drive was made clear at the April International Convention. Herman, McClain and conpany supported an “adequate” U.S. arm budget and refused to take sides in El Salvador. They uncritically endorsed the Polish “Solidarity” movement and took sides with Reagan against the U.S.S.R.. warning the Soviets not to interfere (even if capitalism was being restored?)
The editor submitted a minority report on Poland and argued for a “wait and see” attitude at that time. Keylor warned that the church-influenced, anti-Soviet, Polish nationalist leadership of Solidarity could mislead the Polish workers into laying the basis tor bringing back capitalism. Brother Keylor argued for a policy of support to those elements of Solidarity that were groping towards a working class political revolution against the governing bureaucracy, a revolution committed to socialist property forms, and appealing to Soviet workers toward the same goals.
The hour is getting very late to mobilize labor action to stop Reagan’s attacks on workers’ hard-won gains. Keylor alone among the delegates to the June Caucus voted against the Coast Committees resolution which effectively blocked our union fram taking the lead to organize work stoppages by maritime workers in order to block cuts in the Longshoremen, and Harbor workers Act. Only labor strike action can stop the cuts in Social Security and other social legislation and to stop the thinly veiled racist attacks on the gains of black people. Reagan’s wrecking of the air traffic controllers union is a clear warning that only massive acts of workers’ solidarity can prevent the destruction of the labor movement.
SOME PEOPLE NEVER LEARN
THE GIBSON CASE
It’s never been more urgent than now to keep the government and the capitalist courts out of our internal union affairs to prevent pro-employer judges from interfering in the hiring hall and registration system. The longshore division has been besieged with lawsuits attacking our contractual dispatch and registration systems, some of which the union has lost. In the Gibson case, which started 13 years ago, the Portland Clerks Local lost. Local 10’s pro-rated share of the cost, $ 30,000, has not been paid. If this policy of refusing to defend all longshore and clerk locals against lawsuits continues coastwise unity will be broken and every local, including our own, will be left to defend itself. This is the disastrous policy of most of the officers and Executive Board some of whom even openly support the bringing of lawsuits against locals and local officers.
Without a program of fighting the P.M.A. to maintain and expand waterfront jobs, which would allow the registration of women, blacks, and national minorities, we can expect even more Title 7 lawsuits including suits against Local 10.
DECLINE OF THE UNION
It’s always depressing to try to describe at each election time the state of the local and find that it’s gone down hill during the preceding year. Where are we now? Smaller, shorter and more infrequent membership meetings; fewer jobs, more longshoremen living on P.G.P.; P.M.A. chiseling on the contract, backed up by the arbitrary; unsafe working conditions, not enough manning; P.G.P. cut when men get fed up and take even individual job action; encroachment on our jurisdiction; and finally, men becoming desperate and going steady as S.E.O. skilled equipment operators.
Most dangerous and alarming of all is the fact that longshoremen are losing confidence in the ability of the union to defend their interests and same men are competing with each other for favors from P.M.A. representatives.
These conditions can be laid squarly at the door of a leadership which has accepted the 9.43 and S.E.O. system, refused to fight for manning and a shorter work shift, and has conformed to the policy of “no illegal work stoppages”, “work now and grieve later”, and “everything.is subject to arbitration”. The editor, Howard Keylor, submitted resolutions on all these issues to the April pre-contract Coast Caucus but got very little support from other Local 10 delegates.
Our local officers are reduced to complaining that Jerry Sutliff, area arbitrator, is “unfair” and holding up the vain hope, that if he shows himself to be very biased that he will be replaced. There’s only one answer: mobilize the membership to take on P.M.A. with job action to defend our conditions and to appeal to the coast locals for support.
THE S.E.O. MESS
THE CANCER GROWS BIGGER
The 1981 contract made the S.E.O. system even worse. The steady equipment operator system is further expanded and extended into the hall eating up more skilled jobs. Stevedoring companies can now order their “own” men from the S.E.O. Board and P.M.A. refuses to recognize a stop line on the S.E.O. Board; if one job goes outside the S.E.O. board all S.E.O. men qualified for that job flop and lose the guarantee.
All attempts to modify the S.E.O. system are simply doomed to failure. Brother Reg Theriault’s motion to stop S.E.O. men from driving tractors and other rolling stock against the ship was clearly in violation of the contract and would have led to.a major confrontation with P.M.A. Brothers Keylor and Gow voted against this motion at the Executive Board warning that this motion gives the illusion that it’s possible to modify the S.E.O. system without a fight. We put up a motion at that time to prepare the membership fora fight to finally end this cancer by calling all S.E.O. men back to the hall. No vote took place on our motion because Executive Board members promptly took a hike eliminating the quorum of 10 members.
FOR A CLASS-STRUGGLE LEADERSHIP
As only two people on the Executive Board Keylor and Gow can’t make any decisive difference in the course of the union. The most we can do is continue to expose what’s going on and to point the way out. Not until the union develops an alternative leadership committed to a class struggle program will we see a change in the downhill motion of the union. the following program includes those measures and principles which could show the way out of the dilemma in which we find ourselves.
A CLASS-STRUGGLE PROGRAM
1.DEFEND THE HIRING HALL – Call all SEO men back to the hall. Dispatch all skilled equipuent jobs from the hall.
2.DEFEND UNION CONDITIONS – Job action to protect union conditions and safety. No dependance on arbitrators.
3. DEFEND OUR JOBS – Build now toward a contract fight in 1984 for manning scales on all ship operations, 6 hours shift for 8 hours pay, one man – one job.
4. DEFEND OUR UNION – No “B” or “C” Registration lists. Keep the racist anti-labor government and courts out of our union. Support all ILWU locals defense against court suits and government “investigations”. No lawsuits against any union.
5. BUILD LABOR SOLIDARITY against government/employer strikebreaking. Honor all picket lines. Don’t handle struck or diverted cargo.
6.STOP NAZI/KLAN TERROR through union organized mass labor/black/ Latino defense action. No dependance on capitalist police or courts to smash fascism.
7. WORKING CLASS ACTION TO STOP REAGAN’S NAR DRIVE AGAINST THE SOVIET UNION – Oppose reactionary boycotts against Soviet cargo an shippment. Labor strikes against military blockades of Cuba or Nicaragua. Boycott all military cargo to Chile, South Africa, El Salvador.
8. INTERNATIONAL LABOR SOLIDARITY – Labor support to military victory for leftist insurgents in El Salvador. Oppose protectionist trade restrictions. International support to anti-capitalist workers struggles.
9. LABOR STRIKES TO SMASH REAGAN’s ANTI-LABOR/BLACK DRIVE – National maritime strikes to defend the Longshoremen and Harborworker’s Act.
10. BREAK FINALLY AND COMPLETLEY WITH STRIKE-BREAKING DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN PARTIES – Start now to build a workers.party based on the unions to fight for a workers government which will seize all major industry Without payment to the capitalists and establish a planned economy to end exploitation, racism, poverty, and war.