Thursday, December 1, 2011

Occupy LA

2012-12-01 "Why we are occupying the ports in solidarity with port workers and communities" from "Anti-Racist Action - LA" and "Occupy LA"
We are occupying the ports, as part of a day of action, boycott and march for full legalization and good jobs for all to draw attention to and protest the criminal system of concentrated wealth that depends on local and global exploitation of working people, and the denial of workers' rights to organize for decent pay, working conditions and benefits, in disregard for the environment and the health and safety of surrounding communities. Port workers, particularly port truck drivers, have repeatedly shut down the ports around similar demands of migrant rights and workers' rights which have not yet been met.
A group of truck drivers recently attempting to organize for representation with the Teamsters were summarily fired by an Australian shipping company here in the LA/LB harbor. ILWU workers at the Longview WA port have been displaced by scabs. Most port truck drivers in the harbor are denied the right to organize because they are treated as independent contractors who are forced to bear all the costs of their work, their benefits and any delays out of their own pockets from their piece-rate pay. We are demanding better pay for the drivers, standing up for workers' rights, and seeking to rebuild the economy so that there are good jobs for all. Currently in the ports locally, about 8 containers of imports come in as imports for every one that goes out as exports. Community residents are concerned about the rat-infested graveyard of unused shipping containers that has piled up. If the US had balanced trade, with as much going out in exports as comes in, there would be plentiful work and good, well-paying jobs for all, on and off the waterfront.

Why we are focusing on SSA Marine terminals and facilities -
SSA Marine, a company owned by the investment bank Goldman Sachs, exemplifies the rising corporate greed that sinks all boats and that is ruining our economy for its own selfish profits. SSA Marine is a war profiteer, that got a contract under the occupation of Iraq to run the port there to off load US war materiel. SSA Marine is a criminal despoiler of the environment. They were recently convicted in Bellingham WA of illegally building an unpermitted access road to the site of the proposed terminal. SSA Marine is unconcerned about worker safety. They were recently exposed in Oakland of having failed to notify longshore workers of a potentially explosive cargo they were working on, air conditioners that had been recharged in Vietnam with the wrong gas, and some which had already exploded.
SSA Marine is anti-union. Their Shippers container trans-shipment facility, located in Carson on Sepulveda, is jurisdictionally considered part of the port under the law, and therefore should fall under the ILWU contract with the Pacific Maritime Association, but its workers are not so represented. Goldman Sachs, the parent company, got billions in bail-out funds, particularly via insurance giant AIG, which nearly failed because of its "credit default swaps" that helped fuel the housing bubble and then deepen its collapse. They are currently in the process of trying to evict a group of mostly migrant residents from a property (built on public land with public funds) in Harbor City that they control.

Why we are acting independently of organized labor -
Although we are working with and reaching out to rank and file port workers, we understand that labor unions are constrained under reactionary, anti-union federal legislation such as Taft-Hartley, passed during the Cold War to reverse the gains of labor under the Depression era Wagner Act, from taking job actions on the basis of solidarity or for political causes or demands. As concerned working people organizing for direct action to express and exert our civic concerns and responsibility, we will be engaging in a public, legal mass protest and rally, and a community picket line at SSA facilities to press our exposure of the above-cited depradation by greedy corporations, our support of working people and the 99%, and to stand up for migrant rights against the scapegoat mentality that blames poor immigrant workers for the flaws and crimes that the wealthy are really responsible for.

How you can join us -
Meet at Harry Bridges Park in Long Beach (near the Queen Mary at the foot of the 710 freeway, or a short shuttle bus ride from the end of the Blue Line) at 5:00 AM on Monday Dec. 12. Host a discussion in your home or at your school, union or neighborhood or religious group. Contact us at or call 323-901-4269 to get a flyer that you can share. Or come out to one of the occupation general assemblies in Los Angeles, Long Beach or neighboring communities (start your own if there is none).

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