On Monday, December 12, Occupy Wall Street protests will center around a West Coast Port Blockade, in which protesters plan to “shut down Wall Street on the Waterfront.”
According to the organization’s website:
The goal is to disrupt commerce to make the 1 percent, who own the shipping, business, and goods going through the ports, pay for their global austerity attack on working people.
Occupy Oakland is seeking a repeat of the “general strike” it achieved back on November 2. On Monday, Occupy Oakland seeks to create a greater “port blockade” with more than a dozen occupations all along the West Coast.
As Gavin Aronsen explains:
Occupy Oakland’s renewed call to shut down “Wall Street on the Waterfront” was sparked in large part by the October firing of 26 port truckers in Los Angeles and Long Beach who wore Teamster T-shirts to work in defiance of their anti-union employer, the Australia-based Toll Group.
Monday’s protests are also being billed as a protest against port terminals run by the Goldman Sachs-owned Stevedoring Services of America (SSA) and a show of solidarity with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s rank-and-file – particularly in Longview, Washington, where the union is engaged in a contract fight with Export Grain Terminal, a subsidiary of the agribusiness giant Bunge.
Union leaders sent this statement to all of its locals and affiliates:
While there can be no doubt that the ILWU shares the Occupy movement’s concerns about the future of the middle class and corporate abuses, we must be clear that our struggle against EGT is our struggle…Support is one thing, organization from outside groups attempting to co-opt our struggle is quite another and one that is destructive to our democratic process and jeopardizes our own two-year struggle in Longview.
The Port of Oakland is definitely opposed to any shutdown, stating that it would only hurt average citizens by diverting cargo, tax revenue, and jobs to other communities.
The Occupy movement’s response?
The ports are an issue for all working class people, not just the tiny percentage of unionized workers, or even the smaller group of port and longshore workers. Alliances can be formed between all these groups of workers.
The fact is, though, that this call for a port shutdown is being met with opposition from some union members and even by some within the Occupy movement. Some union members say that shutting down the ports to punish the 1% makes no sense and will cause hardship to workers who would lose a day’s wages as a result.
Some Occupy protesters also disagree with any kind of confrontation with port unions and feel that port shutdowns, confrontations with police, and encampments have outlived their usefulness.
On the other hand, there are guys like Joe Yovanny, who told the San Francisco Chronicle:
I’ll be losing about $700 for the day, and I have to use that to pay for my fuel and truck and all my expenses, but I’m glad they’re going to shut the port down. They need to make a statement. We truckers need better treatment.