portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article portland metro

corporate dominance

Next Dockworker Support Action: Tuesday, Sept 3, Pioneer Square 12 Noon Sharp

This past action was such a success, we have decided to plan more!
Please try to get there by 12:15, when we head out from Pioneer Square
We're doing it again: Tuesday, Sept 3, Pioneer Square 12 Noon Sharp

Here's the surprisingly good articlw from the Oregonian about the last action:

Protest moves from the docks to area retailers



08/29/02

DYLAN RIVERA



A labor conflict previously limited to West Coast docks spilled
Wednesday into malls and retail shops primarily from Los Angeles to
Washington state.

"We're here to tell the Gap: Stay off the union's back," protesters
chanted at the Gap apparel store in downtown Portland's Pioneer Place.

The approximately 25 protesters, joining activists in several other
states who rallied the same day, were decrying the role of a shippers'
coalition in ongoing labor talks over the longshoremen who keep the West
Coast's ports running.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, representing 10,500
dock workers, and the Pacific Maritime Association, representing
shipping lines and terminal operators, have negotiated off and on since
before the union's three-year contract ended July 1.

Union negotiators have complained that officials with the Bush
administration have threatened to replace workers with military
personnel if labor talks fail and work stops.

The protesters said retailers are partly to blame for the
administration's pressure on the negotiations. The target of their ire
is the West Coast Waterfront Coalition, a group formed in 2000 to
represent importers and other shippers who have billions of dollars
worth of goods crossing docks each year. The membership list reads like
a roster of the nation's top retailers, including Wal-Mart, Best Buy and
Target Stores.

"The WCWC doesn't care who's running the docks -- scabs or union workers
-- as long as their ships run on time," said Chris Preucil, a volunteer
with the Portland-based Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the
Environment, which helped organize the protest in Portland. "If it came
down to a strike or lockout, the WCWC, because they're business
interests, would lobby for some kind of scab labor, and the president
has said it could be military."

Robin Lanier, the coalition's executive director, was not available for
comment Wednesday. But in recent weeks, she has defended the group's
right to voice shippers' concerns to Congress and the administration.
The coalition has asked that both labor and management negotiate a new
contract as soon as possible, she said.

"Shippers are not happy about the prospect of a lockout; we don't want a
slowdown," Lanier said. "We're the people whose ox gets gored."

Jack Suite, a spokesman for the Pacific Maritime Association, called the
union's clamor over the possibility of a military role on the docks an
"old chestnut" of union rhetoric.

"The likelihood of that is extremely remote," Suite said. "That's
something the union has been grabbing onto to divert attention from the
real issues at the table."

In all, hundreds of protesters on the West Coast and in Montana and
North Carolina on Wednesday chanted and passed out leaflets at giant
retailers such as Home Depot.

In Portland, the protesters chanted and handed out leaflets at Payless
ShoeSource on Southwest Sixth Avenue and Alder Street and at Pioneer
Place's Gap store. Both are members of the shippers' coalition.

Payless ShoeSource managers wouldn't comment on the protest, and
corporate officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Claudia Hawkins, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Gap Inc.,
confirmed that the apparel-maker is a member of the coalition but would
not discuss the group's work or the longshoreman negotiations in detail.


"We certainly do hope that an agreement is reached amicably and
quickly," Hawkins said.

Dylan Rivera: 503-221-8532;  dylanrivera@news.oregonian.com

phone: phone: 503-236-7916