from Labornet-Seattle ILWU 19 Tops Cut Deal Eliminating Unit Breaks
|From: "ranknfile19" firstname.lastname@example.org
Wed, 15 Aug 2007
Unprecedented Sell-Out by Ugles & Co. in Seattle
By Joe Dockerman
Seattle, Aug. 15 -- IN A STUNNING betrayal of the militant rank-and-file
ideals upon which the ILWU was founded, Local 19's officers duped a tiny
minority of the local's membership present at last Thursday's stop-work
meeting into a sell-out of unparalleled proportions.
On August 9th, on behalf of the Port Labor Relations Committee, President
Herald Ugles tabled a "Continuous Operation Document" between
the local union and Stevedoring Services of America Terminals, which will
eliminate unit breaks at Terminal 18 in the Port of Seattle. The motion to
adopt the new work rules, in exchange for at most five more jobs on
container operations "although the memorandum's language itself is so vague
that even this slight gain in manning is not even for sure "was passed by a
slim majority at the tiny and unrepresentative meeting.
The underhanded tactics used by the Ugles/Manwell/Ventoza regime to ensure
the membership meeting would be tiny and then to blackmail those members who
did show up into passing the give-back measure have been the subject of
lively debate around the Seattle waterfront in the days since the August 9th
These new work rules will make it basically impossible for semi tractor
drivers and other equipment operators on gangs to communicate with each
other regarding safety code and contract violations and thereby keep them
from working together to enforce their contract rights on the job.
Moreover, these new rules clearly violate the provisions of Section 2.3 of
the Pacific Coast Longshore Contract Document, paving the way for a further
erosion of the Coastwise master contract and raising the specter of
port-by-port or company-by-company agreements, just in time for early
Coastwise contract talks, set to begin early in 2008.
Waterfront rumors have it that SSA will begin implementing these new work
rules today, Wednesday, August 15th.
To make matters even worse, had a single brave Local 19 member not called
for the quorum and thereby shut down the stop-work meeting, the next thing
on the agenda was to have been a Port LRC motion to install computer screens
in the dispatch hall an ominous step towards the electronic dispatching of
longshoremen's work. This narrowly-averted motion would have represented a
first step towards the total dismantling of the union hiring hall.
Unions around the world admire the ILWU for its democratic hiring hall and
its tradition of effective job control, in which dispatchers are elected by
the workers themselves, and which allows workers to pick their jobs on a
daily basis. This system allows individual longshoremen a freedom which is
unparalleled among other members of the American workforce. It has long been
a dream of the West Coast maritime employers to do away with the hiring hall
system that the ILWU won through militant strikes beginning in 1934.
This past year, our brothers and sisters of the ILWU Canada, the organized
longshore workers in British Columbia ports, began contract negotiations
with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association, the Canadian
subsidiary of the Pacific Maritime Association. The employers tabled a set
of unheard-of demands, including continuous operations, port-by-port or
company-by-company agreements, and electronic or phone dispatching of
The members of ILWU Canada considered this set of employer contract demands
to be a declaration of war, and vowed a fight to the death to preserve the
historic gains of the ILWU which the employers had indicated their desir
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