Second Major Labor Group Condemns Occupy Movement’s Planned West Coast “Solidarity” Port Shutdown

by Marc Scribner on December 9, 2011

in Economy, Labor, Mobility

The Occupy movement is planning to force a shutdown of West Coast ports, claiming they are standing in solidarity with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) over the group’s ongoing labor dispute at the Port of Longview, Washington. But as I previously noted, the ILWU has called on the Occupiers to stand down and to stop interfering in their affairs. Now a second major labor organization is condemning the Occupiers’ planned blockade, which is scheduled for this coming Monday:

Alameda County Building and Constructions Trades Council, which represents unions whose workers are employed by companies serving the Port of Oakland, joined the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in rejecting calls by protesters to have organized labor’s support in blocking work at the ports on Dec. 12.

The council’s move widens the division between labor groups and an Occupy movement that claims to speak for the principles and goals of union workers. The announced effort to shut down ports up and down the U.S. West Coast would be the most ambitious effort yet by a protest that began in New York as Occupy Wall Street.

“Unions affiliated with this council represent hundreds of workers who are working and have worked at the Port of Oakland. Not one of these unions has endorsed the call to shut down the port,” the San Francisco Bay-area trades council stated Friday.

While the Council notes that it supports many of the claimed goals of the Occupy movement, “the call to shut down operations at the Port of Oakland, where many of our unemployed workers and newly-indentured apprentices have recently been able to get back to work, makes no sense.” Jeff Smith, president of ILWU Local 8 in Portland, told the Portland Tribune that his members will not honor the Occupiers’ picket lines: “This is a third-party strike. We have to go to work.”

There has been some internal dissent within the ranks of the Occupy movement, but the realization that they will be actively fighting against the very people they claim to support does not yet appear to be widespread.

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