Militant Longshoreman No. 18

Militant Longshoreman

No. 18    February 6, 1987

Industrial Docks — A Knife Our Throats

When the Coast Longshore Caucus meets in April the delegates will be faced with defending the union against take-aways and concessions. Even if we are successful in stopping PMA’s appetite for more profits and more control over longshoremen, the greatest threat to our jobs, welfare benefits and pensions is from the non-PMA industrial docks. Nonunion shipping lines, tug and barge operations have already cut into West Coast maritime unions control of the waterfront. Thee outfits have an appetite to move into longshore operations replacing union conditions with labor costs, 1/2 to 1/3 of standard ILWU contracts.

On the Gulf Coast new industrial docks, floating docks and barges have taken a large chunk of ILA longshore work. Half the ILA longshoremen in the Houston local work for non-union companies at grossly sub-standard conditions.

Levin Again Threatens Longshore

Here at Richmond Paar 5 (Yard 1) Levin Terminals now has a completely non-ILWU operation on scrap iron: no linemen, not even the few turn around jobs we get on the bulk cargoes. None of Levin’s workers are even covered by the sub-standard Laborers Union and Operating Engineers contracts they had three years ago when we put up mass pickets at the gate. Our tenuous toe-hold at Richmond Yard 1 can only tempt Levin into another confrontation uith the ILWU to totally get rid of us and move into autos, barges, break bulk cargo, and containers with no longshoremen working. Levin’s non-union bulk operations have already destroyed most of the Longshore covered bulk jobs in Stockton, Sacramento and Redwood City.

The International officers have no answer to this threat. When a huge non-union barge operation opened up in Puget Sound several years ago the ILWU members were limited to months of informational picketing.

Organize the Unorganized

There is only one answer – organize! Only a massive joint ILWU, AFL-CIO, Teamster organizing campaign to organize all waterfront cargo-handling operations and barge traffic can stop the certain weakening and destruction of maritime union conditions on the West Coast. But a massive organizing campaign can only take place if workers get rid of the fearful, ossified leadership of the unions and replace them with a leadership that isn’t afraid of old-fashioned class struggle.

Crowley Moves to Break IBU-ILWU

When the Inland Boatmens’ Union (IBU) affiliated to the ILWU that gave us an important tool to defend longshore and to organize industrial docks, As we described in the last Militant Longshoreman the heart of the IBU is threatened by Crowley Maritime whose demands for 50% take-aways and elimination of the hiring hall puts, the existence of the union at stake. 13 contracts are up for renegotiation including the important Alaska barge trade. If the IBU is smashed the Longshore contracts with Crowley and even the  existence of the Alaskan Longshore locals are threatened. Crowley has already been successful over the past few years in forcing the Longshore Division to accept sub-standard contracts.

The strike deadline is approaching. There are indications that Crowley is trying to split up the IBU front and force one or more regions into separate negotiations and separate strikes. Even more alarming is that the ILWU International and IBU top-leadership have tried to discredit and defeat demands from the IBU locals for a united coastwise strike to defeat Crowley’s union busting. Herman and IBU President Liddle’s fear of an all-out confrontation with Crowley could lead them to seperate negotiations by region or even contract by contract. That “strategy” can only result in a disastrous defeat for the IBU.

For A Coastwide Strike Against Crowley!
For Mass Pickets to Stop Scabbing!

A militant coastwise strike backed up by mass ILWU pickets to defeat scabbing would be a signal to PMA not to try take-aways, and could discourage terminals and shippers from trying to set up non-union longshore operations undermining our jurisdiction on the waterfront. While Local 10 has very good relations with the IBU there are alarming signs of a crack in ILWU solidarity. A few days ago a tug manned by scabs pulled into C & H Sugar at Crocker. The IBU had a picket boat out on the water and was prepared to put up pickets at the plant gate to stop the barge from docking. Longshore maintenance won at C & H were prepared to observe the pickets but Local 6 President Al Lannon refused to commit the warehousemen not to cross IBU picket lines! This is the same Al Lannon who as a Local 6 B.A. tried to raid longshore work in Redwood City some years ago. Only if the full strength of the ILWU is brought out to man mass picket lines and stop scabbing can Crowley be stopped from breaking the back of the IBU.