West Coast port shutdown today?

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Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
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Dec 12 2011 18:54
West Coast port shutdown today?

So I know the Occupy movement has called for coordinated blockades of all US West Coast ports today, anyone heard anything or able to give us updates?

action_now
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Dec 12 2011 19:10

https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23d12

Black Badger
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Dec 12 2011 19:12

I was there early to help set up a first aid station, which was not used except by a few folks needing some drinking water. Received news from two different sources at parts of the Port of Oakland within the last twenty minutes (around 11am local time) that the ILWU arbitrator told the morning shift to go home. Folks are requesting a regrouping this afternoon to shut out the afternoon shift as well. Mood is festive despite some rain and cold.

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Juan Conatz
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Dec 12 2011 19:39

From Facebook

Quote:
Oakland Port: shut down.
Portland Port: shut down.
Long Beach: partly shut down.
Longview, WA: shut down.
Vancouver: shut down.
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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 12 2011 19:50

Wow, that's really impressive! How's the mainstream media coverage?

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fnbrill
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Dec 12 2011 19:51

Is Vancouver Vancouver, WA? Or BC?

Press says 700-1000 folks shut down Portland Container facilities for AM shift. they'll be back at 4.

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Juan Conatz
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Dec 12 2011 19:57

-200 Occupy protesters threatened with arrest at Port of Long Beach

99% rhetoric used against itself....by the vice president of external affairs for the California Trucking Association....

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 12 2011 19:58

http://www.livestream.com/globalrevolution

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Juan Conatz
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Dec 12 2011 20:08

There's a shitload of various links, pictures, and status updates on the shutdown coming up on Facebook and Twitter, so I'll just post what I see. Don't have much time to check the quality though.

-AN OPEN LETTER FROM AMERICA’S PORT TRUCK DRIVERS ON OCCUPY THE PORTS
http://cleanandsafeports.org/blog/2011/12/12/an-open-letter-from-america%E2%80%99s-port-truck-drivers-on-occupy-the-ports/

-Portland shutdown liveblog
http://www.portlandoccupier.org/2011/12/12/liveblog-d12/

Some Mainstream media coverage (all were on front page of respective sites, with the CNN one being more prominant than FoxNews' and MSNBC being more prominent than both)

-Occupy protesters disrupt West Coast ports
http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/12/us/occupy-ports/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

-'Occupy' Protesters Halt Operations at Some West Coast Ports
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/12/12/occupy-protesters-seek-to-shut-down-west-coast-ports/#ixzz1gLw30rQN

-Occupy disrupts West Coast ports; 17 arrested in NYC
http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/12/9389446-occupy-disrupts-west-coast-ports-17-arrested-in-nyc

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Dec 12 2011 20:21

There's mixed responses coming out of ILWU it seems.

Maritime unions oppose Occupy Seattle 'port shutdown'

Quote:
"Support is one thing, organization from outside groups attempting to co-opt our struggle in order to advance a broader agenda is quite another and one that is destructive to our democratic process," wrote Robert McEllrath, the president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).

Locally, King County Labor Council Executive Secretary David Freiboth said ILWU Local 19 asked the labor council not to participate at the Port of Seattle.

"We're not supporting the shutdown, and we're not participating in it," he said.

scottydont
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Dec 12 2011 21:18

Terminals 5 and 6 (grain and containers, respectivley) in Portland were shut down totally this morning, and the mood seemed high. Folks started out not actually blockading but rather "symbolically picketing" (wtf?) and asking the longshoremen to respect the line, but quickly moved towards a more active blockade after some brief encouragement. In one bizarre moment someone who had been previously yelling to let workers through if they wanted, literally came up to a group of anarchists and y thanked them "for the lesson in solidarity" after they refused to back down and let a scab cross the line. The Union called off work for the morning shift by 9 or so. At least some of the rank and file longshoremen are in favor, and apparently some even brought pizza to the blockade.
Some slightly heated disagreements between folks over whether the non-unionized truckers who work as independent contractors and thus lose their pay for the day, yet still have to pay for gas etc., should be allowed to cross pickets. (Seems like a moot question to me, but...)

Leaving for the evening shift block soon. Keep ya'll updated....

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Ed
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Dec 12 2011 22:11

Cheers scotty, great stuff!

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Dec 12 2011 22:51

Another Portland Perspective: Was with some Anarcho Syndicalist, IWW and Radical Caucus folk blocking Port Entrance Berth 607 (The Longshoreman designated this to be the most important place for our picket, the other terminals being simply symbolic, this is the entrance for private contractors and mechanics). While the other rallies distracted the Police we picketed the terminal entrance and within 30 minutes of our presence, the workers were sent home. Soon after the entire port was shut down.

The tactic of holding a Picket VS. Blockaiding was a tactic chosen by folks within the radical caucus. We respect the Union and their choice to work, but more importantly when choosing this tactic we were really thinking of the truck drivers, who, unlike the Longshoreman (who get paid even if they don't cross the picket line) need to get into the Port to feed their familes.

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ludd
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Dec 12 2011 23:20

Occupy San Diego had about 100-200 people coming to shut down the our fairly small port for 2 hours in the morning. It took that long for the cops to break down and route around the community pickets lines without employing much violence. Once that was done, the occupiers took to the streets in a rowdy march with non-aggressive police escort. We marched through the giant San Diego Convention Center, chanting and bewildering thousands of hematologists gathered there.

Dock workers did not cross the lines for the most part, except for one instance when a bunch of scabby workers and cops gathered in a group and all crossed the line in one shot.

I've also heard Occupy LA shut down town their port for 4 hours

Video from San Diego early morning picket:

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Dec 12 2011 23:26

How long was Portland's Terminal 5 and 6 shutdown for? I couldn't make it as I had to work.

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Dec 13 2011 00:15

Terminal 6 is permanently shutdown. Tankers are still moving into 5, but Longshoreman have the day off from Terminal 5. March moving to terminal 4 to shutdown that terminal. Mechanics are still home last I checked. Only a few shifts are still around at the remaining Terminals, actions are planned to stop them. Overall, the Port is closed.

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Soapy
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Dec 13 2011 01:34

Evening shift at Oakland port has gone home.

DeridingPolyphemus
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Dec 13 2011 02:09

This has received dramatically less attention (in the major media outlets) than the Occupy Oakland General Strike... But it seems to me that the action has been far more significant, especially with respects to some rather ambitious goals.

It looks like Occupy Seattle got pretty heated, with reports of police use of flashbangs, teargas, etc.

Occupy Oakland Is about to vote to extend the blockade past 3 AM in response to police actions across the country.

Claremont Solidarity
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Dec 13 2011 04:56

About 600 of us blockaded the SSA terminal at the Long Beach / Los Angeles port for three or four hours before getting slowly pushed out by escalating police forces. And by a miserable downpour. The action was a good deal shorter than it was intended to be, but also more intense during its duration. I was impressed by the level of militancy and solidarity here in Long Beach; the black bloc and masked up anarchists, and the rest of the occupiers were working really well together and seemed to have the same ideas about tactics. The IWW had the biggest organized contingent at the action, which was a pleasant surprise since they haven't been much of a force in LA before.

Ya_Pasta
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Dec 13 2011 05:51

Oakland goes all night. At least that's the plan

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syndicalistcat
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Dec 13 2011 06:01

When i left Oakland was about to have a GA to make decisions. But the attacks at Seattle and San Diego (I think) were mentioned as reasons to extend the blockade to the late shift. There was supposed to be a shift of longshoremen to arrive at 3:30 AM. and people were being asked to stay long enough to picket out that shift. the port was closed when I was there, as part of the 4 pm march. I'd say about 2,000 to 3,000 in the 4 pm march, and then some hundreds of reinforcements from the BART station at around 6 pm.. At one point a large group...about 100...people on bicycles were mobilized as a flying squad to shutdown one of the more distant terminals where riot police had showed up.

the point to the middle of the night picket was solidarity against the police attacks at the other ports.

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Dec 14 2011 06:19

Prior to the a.m. shift this morning , there were only 2 ships at the Port of Oakland. One at the TraPac Terminal (berths 30-32) and the other at the Hanjin Terminal (berths 55-56). We assembled at West Oakland BART station at 5:30 a.m. and soon after a half dozen charted buses left for the 2 terminals, as well as a bicycle bloc and a march. Over the morning there were probably around 1,000 picketers at each terminal gate. Apparently that was enough for the arbitrator chosen jointly by PMA (Pacific Maritime Association: the collective group of the shipping line bosses) and the ILWU to rule the picket line a "health & safety" issue serious enough to send the longshore workers home with pay.

The number of troqueros lined up before the port opened at 7:00 seemed to be only about 20% of what it should be. So some of us drifted down to the next gate and blockaded the SSA gate (berths 57-59). When most vehicular traffic at the port was reduced to a trickle, many of us marched the 3.6 miles around the port to come back 7th Street back to get to Oscar Grant Plaza downtown.

The afternoon action had a march from Oscar Grant Plaza at 4:00 that had more than 2,000. Then a convergence and march from West Oakland BART at 5:00 followed it, with a smaller group, over the Adeline Street bridge to the port as well. We all converged where we'd been in the morning, at the Hanjin Terminal. While both groups were en route, word went out from ILWU that the whole port was shut for the evening shift. This was exactly what we had intended to do, so we successfully shut the mutha down.

The convergence in front of Hanjin ended up in a giant street party of at least 5,000. The 4:00 march had at least 3 sound trucks, so once we got to the destination there were 3 impromptu stages: 1.) with a live hardcore band and a mosh pit in the center of Middle Harbor Road; 2.) a stage on the flatbed of a sound truck with hip-hop; and 3.) some kind of dance music with a heavy bass beat on the other side.

The GA seemed confused and the attempt to shut down the 3:00 a.m. shift seemed ill advised as people would have to wait around for 8 hours until the graveyard shift of longshore workers arrived. Since that's 3 1/2 hours from now, it doesn't seem probable.

This whole series of actions at the Port of Oakland is amazing. Everyone I talked with expected the cops to try to prevent us from blocking the gates, but despite their fairly large numbers waiting in the wings, they were unable -- or unwilling -- to do anything to stop us. But we still need the troqueros to pull another wildcat action (like they did in 1993, 2004 and 2006 at the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex; the 2004 action spread to an 8-day wildcat blockade at the APL gate in Oakland) and for that to pull out the longshore workers in an unauthorized strike. That cross-sectoral solidarity would be a step toward making the action more like a real industrial strike.

As I've said before, the new mantra should be:

The only illegal strike is one that loses!

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Dec 13 2011 08:43

It is shocking the lack of media attention this seems to be getting. When I started this thread, it was because I had only checked nytimes.com and they had nothing at all about it.

Big props to all those who helped pull this off. Impressive stuff.

wojtek
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Dec 13 2011 13:05
Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
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Dec 13 2011 18:16

West Coast Port Shutdown Sparks Heated Debate between Unions, Occupy
http://labornotes.org/2011/12/west-coast-port-shutdown-sparks-heated-debate-between-unions-occupy

Oakland

scottydont
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Dec 13 2011 20:53

Terminal's 5 and 6 in Portland were shut down with no blockades for the evening shift as the union called of work prior to the start of blocking. And so the blockade was moved to Terminal 4 which was blocked with little to no confrontation, rally with a sound truck, etc afterwords and general milling about. Still some back and forth in the crowd whether to let trucks through. The one trucker who I interacted with in more extensively in the evening turned around, apparently out of support, after being talked to for a bit, which, from what I have heard, happened quite a bit throughout the day.

All and all, I would call it a very successful event.

Also:

Quote:
3.) some kind of dance music with a heavy bass beat on the other side.

H, you officially win the left communist grandpa award! (In a good way)

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Dec 13 2011 20:59

Here is Occupy Seattle's statement about the action here:
http://occupyseattle.org/blog/2011-12-13/press-release-121211-port-action-occupy-seattle-new-phase-workers%E2%80%99-movement

Here is Puget Sound Anarchists' report:
http://pugetsoundanarchists.org/node/1193

The video posted by wojtek is the i've seen. There's another that shows the skirmish with police at terminal 18, but I can't find it now. Haven't look at the livestream.

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Dec 13 2011 21:26

Occupy Seattle also picketed at 6:30am today (I had to work so didn't go) and were applauded by longshore workers, who did not go in to work. This was after ILWU members who waited in the hall last night were not paid (they normally do get paid for waiting)... there was an unofficial hint by certain longshore workers that an additional morning picket might be appreciated since they didn't get paid.

Boris Badenov
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Dec 13 2011 21:34
fnbrill wrote:
Is Vancouver Vancouver, WA? Or BC?

I was wondering that myself, but I doubt it's BC. From what I've seen on the news, there was an effort by a small group of Occupy folks to shut down the Deltaport terminal, but they were immediately confronted by police and forced to disperse (or arrested).

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Dec 13 2011 21:46
scottydont wrote:
Hieronymous wrote:
3.) some kind of dance music with a heavy bass beat on the other side.

H, you officially win the left communist grandpa award! (In a good way)

Thanks. But if I could've hobbled over there on my cane, I would've danced too! Like Emma said, "If I can't dance, I ain't coming to your revolution." If I wasn't so tired (and old), I would have preferred the mosh pit.

But as to Chili's comment about the media blackout, that has been heaviest in the Bay Area and continues today as the media continues to blast our efforts. I listened to community non-commercial radio station KPFA this morning and on the "Letters & Politics" show, the host said that yesterday morning the San Francisco Chronicle reported only 200 protestors shut down the 2 working terminals, when with his own eyes he saw at least a thousand. Since I was on bicycle and was able to rove around the port to the different pickets, I saw at least 2,000.

Today's San Francisco Chronicle has a cover story titled "Occupy movement fails to connect with blacks" as it continues to malign us. Another issue is saying that the West Coast Port Shutdown was called by the Occupy Movement, when in truth the call came from short-haul truckers at the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex. A common theme in the media is that our blockade was costing these low-paid workers their wage -- never questioning why longshore workers make the best industrial wages in the U.S. side-by-side with troqueros making some of the worst. As an attempt to counteract the this spectacular misinformation, some port truckers have been circulating the open letter below (since it's aimed at a mainstream audience, some of it is populist work-fetishizing bullshit; as for Teamster organizing, many of the L.A./Long Beach troqueros have rejected their business unionism, especially since there's a $700 initiation fee and $60 monthly dues; many of them have worked with the IWW in the past):

Quote:
An Open Letter from America’s Port Truck Drivers on Occupy the Ports

December 12, 2011

We are the front-line workers who haul container rigs full of imported and exported goods to and from the docks and warehouses every day.

We have been elected by committees of our co-workers at the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York and New Jersey to tell our collective story. We have accepted the honor to speak up for our brothers and sisters about our working conditions despite the risk of retaliation we face. One of us is a mother, the rest of us fathers. Between the five of us we have 11children and one more baby on the way. We have a combined 46 years of experience driving cargo from our shores for America’s stores.

We are inspired that a non-violent democratic movement that insists on basic economic fairness is capturing the hearts and minds of so many working people. Thank you “99 Percenters” for hearing our call for justice. We are humbled and overwhelmed by recent attention. Normally we are invisible.

Today’s demonstrations will impact us. While we cannot officially speak for every worker who shares our occupation, we can use this opportunity to reveal what it’s like to walk a day in our shoes for the 110,000 of us in America whose job it is to be a port truck driver. It may be tempting for media to ask questions about whether we support a shutdown, but there are no easy answers. Instead, we ask you, are you willing to listen and learn why a one-word response is impossible?

We love being behind the wheel. We are proud of the work we do to keep America’s economy moving. But we feel humiliated when we receive paychecks that suggest we work part time at a fast-food counter. Especially when we work an average of 60 or more hours a week, away from our families.

There is so much at stake in our industry. It is one of the nation’s most dangerous occupations. We don’t think truck driving should be a dead-end road in America. It should be a good job with a middle-class paycheck like it used to be decades ago.

We desperately want to drive clean and safe vehicles. Rigs that do not fill our lungs with deadly toxins, or dirty the air in the communities we haul in.

Poverty and pollution are like a plague at the ports. Our economic conditions are what led to the environmental crisis.

You, the public, have paid a severe price along with us.

Why? Just like Wall Street doesn’t have to abide by rules, our industry isn’t bound to regulation. So the market is run by con artists. The companies we work for call us independent contractors, as if we were our own bosses, but they boss us around. We receive Third World wages and drive sweatshops on wheels. We cannot negotiate our rates. (Usually we are not allowed to even see them.) We are paid by the load, not by the hour. So when we sit in those long lines at the terminals, or if we are stuck in traffic, we become volunteers who basically donate our time to the trucking and shipping companies. That’s the nice way to put it. We have all heard the words “modern-day slaves” at the lunch stops.

There are no restrooms for drivers. We keep empty bottles in our cabs. Plastic bags too. We feel like dogs. An Oakland driver was recently banned from the terminal because he was spied relieving himself behind a container. Neither the port, nor the terminal operators or anyone in the industry thinks it is their responsibility to provide humane and hygienic facilities for us. It is absolutely horrible for drivers who are women, who risk infection when they try to hold it until they can find a place to go.

The companies demand we cut corners to compete. It makes our roads less safe. When we try to blow the whistle about skipped inspections, faulty equipment, or falsified logs, then we are “starved out.” That means we are either fired outright, or more likely, we never get dispatched to haul a load again.

It may be difficult to comprehend the complex issues and nature of our employment. For us too. When businesses disguise workers like us as contractors, the Department of Labor calls it misclassification. We call it illegal. Those who profit from global trade and goods movement are getting away with it because everyone is doing it. One journalist took the time to talk to us this week and she explains it very well to outsiders. We hope you will read the enclosed article “How Goldman Sachs and Other Companies Exploit Port Truck Drivers.

But the short answer to the question: Why are companies like SSA Marine, the Seattle-based global terminal operator that runs one of the West Coast’s major trucking carriers, Shippers’ Transport Express, doing this? Why would mega-rich Maersk, a huge Danish shipping and trucking conglomerate that wants to drill for more oil with Exxon Mobil in the Gulf Coast conduct business this way too?

To cheat on taxes, drive down business costs, and deny us the right to belong to a union, that’s why.

The typical arrangement works like this: Everything comes out of our pockets or is deducted from our paychecks. The truck or lease, fuel, insurance, registration, you name it. Our employers do not have to pay the costs of meeting emissions-compliant regulations; that is our financial burden to bear. Clean trucks cost about four to five times more than what we take home in a year. A few of us haul our company’s trucks for a tiny fraction of what the shippers pay per load instead of an hourly wage. They still call us independent owner-operators and give us a 1099 rather than a W-2.

We have never recovered from losing our basic rights as employees in America. Every year it literally goes from bad to worse to the unimaginable. We were ground zero for the government’s first major experiment into letting big business call the shots. Since it worked so well for the CEOs in transportation, why not the mortgage and banking industry too?

Even the few of us who are hired as legitimate employees are routinely denied our legal rights under this system. Just ask our co-workers who haul clothing brands like Guess?, Under Armour, and Ralph Lauren’s Polo. The carrier they work for in Los Angeles is called Toll Group and is headquartered in Australia. At the busiest time of the holiday shopping season, 26 drivers were axed after wearing Teamster T-shirts to work. They were protesting the lack of access to clean, indoor restrooms with running water. The company hired an anti-union consultant to intimidate the drivers. Down Under, the same company bargains with 12,000 of our counterparts in good faith.

Despite our great hardships, many of us cannot — or refuse to, as some of the most well-intentioned suggest — “just quit.” First, we want to work and do not have a safety net. Many of us are tied to one-sided leases. But more importantly, why should we have to leave? Truck driving is what we do, and we do it well.

We are the skilled, specially-licensed professionals who guarantee that Target, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart are all stocked with just-in-time delivery for consumers. Take a look at all the stuff in your house. The things you see advertised on TV. Chances are a port truck driver brought that special holiday gift to the store you bought it.

We would rather stick together and transform our industry from within. We deserve to be fairly rewarded and valued. That is why we have united to stage convoys, park our trucks, marched on the boss, and even shut down these ports.

It’s like our hero Dutch Prior, a Shipper’s/SSA Marine driver, told CBS Early Morning this month: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

The more underwater we are, the more our restlessness grows. We are being thoughtful about how best to organize ourselves and do what is needed to win dignity, respect, and justice.

Nowadays greedy corporations are treated as “people” while the politicians they bankroll cast union members who try to improve their workplaces as “thugs.”

But we believe in the power and potential behind a truly united 99%. We admire the strength and perseverance of the longshoremen. We are fighting like mad to overcome our exploitation, so please, stick by us long after December 12. Our friends in the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports created a pledge you can sign to support us here.

We drivers have a saying, “We may not have a union yet, but no one can stop us from acting like one.”

The brothers and sisters of the Teamsters have our backs. They help us make our voices heard. But we need your help too so we can achieve the day where we raise our fists and together declare: “No one could stop us from forming a union.”

Thank you.

In solidarity,

Leonardo Mejia
SSA Marine/Shippers Transport Express
Port of Long Beach
10-year driver

Yemane Berhane
Ports of Seattle & Tacoma
6-year port driver

Xiomara Perez
Toll Group
Port of Los Angeles
8-year driver

Abdul Khan
Port of Oakland
7-year port driver

Ramiro Gotay
Ports of New York & New Jersey
15-year port driver

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husunzi
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Dec 13 2011 21:52

Here's a good reflection on the nationwide event in general:
http://nothingiseverlost.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/against-the-bosses-against-the-unions-for-occupations-with-teeth-thoughts-on-west-coast-port-shutdown/