Amerikanske havnearbejdere lockoutet: En kamp af principiel betydning

Skibene ligger stille i alle 29 havne på den amerikanske vestkyst. Siden lørdag har arbejdsgiverne lockoutet alle 11000 havnearbejdere fra ILWU – International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Den amerikanske præsident har truet med at sætte militær ind i konflikten. International solidaritet nødvendig.

Igennem lang tid har der været optræk til konflikt i de amerikanske havne. Præsident Bush har tidligere truet med at sætte militær ind til losning af skibene, hvis havnearbejderne, der også i USA har en tradition for stærk faglig kamp, gik i strejke. Men det var arbejdskøberne, der tog et dramatisk middel i brug, da de lockoutede alle 11000 medlemmer af ILWU på den amerikanske vestkyst.

Generalsekretæren for Det internationale Transportarbejderforbund (ITF) David Cockroft betegner lockouten af fagforeningsmedlemmer som ‘galskab’. I går sagde han:
– Hvordan kan dette anti-fagforenings-tyranni overhoevedet fremme bestræbelserne for at nå til en forhandlingsløsning. Historien viser at forhandling med lås og kæder er den sidste måde, man kan opnå ro på i de økonomisk centrale amerikanske vestkysthavne.

For fem uger siden afholdt ITF kongres ik Vancouver, hvor havnearbejder- og sømandsforbund fra hele verden forpligtede sig til at støtte ILWU og dens medlemmer i konflikten. Kees Marges, faglig sekretær i ITF, opfordrer nu til verdensomspændede praktisk solidaritet med de amerikanske havnearbejdere. Han beder alle havnearbejfdere i verden om at gennemføre en arbejds-efter-reglerne aktion:

– Vi behøver ikke en 24 timer, syv dage om ugen lang boykot. Hvis nogle få skibe forsinkes blot nogle få timer som følge af arbejd efter reglerne-aktionen, kan vi ruinere hele systemet, siger han ifølge det internationale shippingblad Fairplay.

Konflikten koster amerikansk økonomi omkring otte milliarder kr. pr. dag, og i Danmark er regningen også ved at løbe op for aktionærerne i A.P. Møller, hvis selskab Maersk-Sealand var et af de rederier, der iværksatte lockouten i lørdags: Her er selskabets aktier dykket med næsten seks procent på Københavns Fondsbørs på grund af arbejdskonflikten.
Foreløbelig har rederiet fem skibe hængende på reden efter en lock-out af havnearbejderne på USA’s vestkyst. A.P. Møller har netop åbnet verdens største containerterminal i Los Angeles, den såkaldte Pier 400.

Selv en kortvarig konflikt vil løbe op i meget store summer. Fem dages lukning af de 29 havne på vestkysten vil koste USA’s økonomi 4,7 mia. dollars (35 mia. kr.) Tilsammen håndterer de berørte havne halvdelen af USA’s hav-baserede varetransport. Bl.a. importen af biler, elektronik, tøj, husholdningsartikler og sportsudstyr. Flere grossister er begyndt at klage deres nød over udsigten til tabte fortjenester.

En mæglingskommission har opfordret ILWU og arbejdsgiverforeningen Pacific Maritime Association at drøfte en mulig regeringsmæglet løsning. Men da ILWUs fem-mands delegation ankom til mødet opdagede den, at arbejdsgiverne havde medbragt pistolbevæbnede sikkerhedsfolk – og forlod det, før det kom i gang:

ILWUs Internationale præsident Jim Spinosa kaldte det en ‘horribel handling’ fra arbejdsgivernes side:
– Det viser hvordan de forholder sig til forhandlinger, i ly bag regeringen og væbnede bøller. PMAs lockout sætter en pistol for tindingen af den amerikanske økonomi – og nu går de i gang med at sigte på os med rigtige pistoler. Vi vil ikke lade os skræmme af den taktik og vi vil aldrig nå en overenskomst, så længe PMA optræder, som om den kan opnå en aftale med våben snarere end gennem forhandling.

De amerikanske medier kalder de hårdtarbejdende havnearbejdere i ILWU for ‘højtlønnede’ og ‘forkælede’. Deres relativt høje lønninger er imidlertid resultat af en militant fagforeningspolitik gennem årene, bakket op af aktioner. Derfor søger arbejdskøberne og regeringen at knægte og smadre ILWU.

Bush-regeringen har åbent truet med at støtte arbejdsgiverne mod ILWU ved at anvende den arbejderfjendske Taft-Hartley-lovgivning mod fagforeningen og med at gennemføre en lovgivning, som begrænser ILWUs legale kollektive overenskomstrettigheder – og ved at true med at lade nationalgarden overtage havnene.
ILWU udtrykker særlig bekymring over, at regeringen bruger 11. september og de skærpede sikkerhedsforanstaltninger som påskud for at retfærdigegøre denne fagforeningsfjendske virksomhed.

De amerikanske havnearbejdere har brug for international støtte.
De skal have den!

Se også:
Arbejdsgiverne medbringer pistolsvingende vagter til forhandlingsmøde – ILWU udvandrer
Pressemeddelelse ILWU 01.10.02

Nedenfor findes en række modeller for støtteudtalelser samt breve til præsident Bush og andre (engelsk)

Pledge of Support for Dock Workers

For more than 65 years the members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have provided critical services to our nation through the committed performance of their duties in ports throughout the West Coast.

The work of these men and women from southern California to the far reaches of Alaska and Hawaii has helped drive the development of international markets for American goods and loyally supported the needs of national security.

They have worked effectively with employer organizations to improve the technological capacity of our major shipping and transportation businesses and to enhance the economic vitality of the communities in which they work and live.

As the nature of dock work changes and ports face serious constraints on their growth and capacity, the members of the ILWU have demonstrated flexibility in evolving their work and creativity in working cooperatively with employers to find collectively bargained solutions to the problems arising from technological change.

For the last three decades the ILWU has successfully settled every contract negotiation without outside interference and they seek to continue working through the collective bargaining process to achieve another effective agreement with the Pacific Maritime Association.

We pledge to assist the ILWU and the PMA in achieving their goal of a negotiated settlement of their 2002 West Coast Master Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The ILWU and the PMA have an outstanding record of providing efficient operations at our West Coast ports, especially in times of war, emergency, and national crisis.

As our nation works to enhance homeland security and revitalize our economy we will work to ensure that the rights of all parties are protected and that economic recovery can continue.

We urge the current administration to continue their focus on rooting out renegade corporate executives more committed to personal gain than economic growth, rather than undermining the collective bargaining process through interference.

We will best protect the fragile national and West Coast economies by allowing the natural course of the collective bargaining process to unfold and by working to avoid federal intervention in the private sector negotiations currently underway between PMA and ILWU.

Resolution in support of the ILWU’s contract negotiations

WHEREAS: the ILWU is engaged in contentious contract negotiations with the shipping and stevedoring employer group, the Pacific Maritime Association; and

WHEREAS: the PMA has consistently refused to negotiate seriously, demanding numerous concessions and proposing offers designed to be rejected; and

WHEREAS: the PMA is using these stalling tactics waiting for the federal government to intervene on its behalf to achieve advantages it could not get in collective bargaining: and

WHEREAS: The Bush administration is attempting to exploit the nation’s legitimate 9-11 national security concerns to undermine the collective bargaining process by threatening to pass special legislation to take away the ILWU’s legal rights to negotiate and strike; and

WHEREAS: the Bush administration has threatened to impose a Taft-Hartley injunction against the ILWU and to send National Guard troops to the West Coast docks to assist the PMA in a lockout of ILWU longshore workers; and

WHEREAS: the ILWU has always been a leader in the American labor movement, pioneering and setting the standards for good wages, benefits and pensions: and

WHEREAS: the ILWU has always been a union with a strong sense of worker solidarity and has taken many crucial and effective actions in support of other workers’ struggles around the country and the world; and

WHEREAS: if the employers and the government are able to break the ILWU, no union in the U.S. is safe;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] affirm its members’ support for the ILWU in its contract negotiations and pledge all resources needed to fight the attack on the ILWU; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the members of [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] support the ILWU’s legal right to collectively bargain and to strike without government intervention; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] will write letters to President Bush demanding that the federal government stay out of the negotiations and to PMA demanding it bargaining seriously with the ILWU; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the members of [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] will lobby their Senators and Congressional representatives to sign a pledge not to vote for any measure that would outlaw or restrict the ILWU’s legal rights.

Model letter from CLCs, state feds and union locals to
Senators and Congressional representatives

Dear Representative ______:

I am writing on behalf of the __# members of the [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] to express our alarm at the reports we have seen in the media about White House plans to intervene in West Coast longshore negotiations.

We understand the Bush administration has already weighed in unduly on the negotiations by threatening to support the employers against the ILWU, by imposing a Taft-Hartley injunction against the union, by passing legislation restricting the ILWU’s legal collective bargaining rights and by sending National Guard troops to take over the docks. And we are very disturbed by how the Bush administration is using the legitimate post 9-11 national security concerns to justify this anti-union activity.

The union’s legitimate concerns deserve the legal due process of collective bargaining without the government’s interference. The employers will never bargain in good faith while they know the government is ready to act on its behalf. We fear this is why negotiations have dragged on unproductively for this long.

The [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] finds this matter of concern not only to West Coast dockers, but to workers throughout America. The Bush administration’s policy to take away the union representation and rights of government workers moved into the new Department of Homeland Security-a clear message that the White House sees unions as a national security threat-is an ominous sign. If basic civil rights are outlawed in the name of national security and international commerce, the terrorists have won.

With these concerns the [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] urges you to sign the enclosed pledge in support of the ILWU’s legal rights-basic worker rights American society recognized and legalized 68 years ago. Please cc us a copy of your signed pledge and whatever correspondence you send to the President on this matter.

Model letter from CLCs, state feds and union locals to
President Bush

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing on behalf of the __# members of the [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] to express our alarm at the reports we have seen in the media about White House plans to intervene in West Coast longshore negotiations.

We understand your administration has already weighed in unduly on the negotiations by threatening to support the employers against the ILWU, by imposing a Taft-Hartley injunction against the union, by passing legislation restricting the ILWU’s legal collective bargaining rights and by sending National Guard troops to take over the docks. And we are very disturbed by how your administration is using the legitimate post 9-11 national security concerns to justify this anti-union activity.

The union’s legitimate concerns deserve the legal due process of collective bargaining without the government’s interference. The employers will never bargain in good faith while they know the government is ready to act on its behalf. We fear this is why negotiations have dragged on unproductively for this long.

The [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] finds this matter of concern not only to West Coast dockers, but to workers throughout America. Your administration’s policy to take away the union representation and rights of government workers moved into the new Department of Homeland Security-a clear message that the White House sees unions as a national security threat-is an ominous sign. If basic civil rights are outlawed in the name of national security and international commerce, the terrorists have won.

The [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] urges you to not only stay out of the longshore negotiations, but to publicly pledge to allow the ILWU’s legal rights-basic worker rights American society recognized and legalized 68 years ago-to collectively bargain without outside interference. This, we feel, is the only way to break the current negotiation deadlock.
cwa39521

Model letter from CLCs, state feds and union locals to
PMA CEO Joseph Miniace

Joseph Miniace
Pacific Maritime Association
550 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94104

Dear Mr. Miniace:

I am writing on behalf of the __# members of the [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] to express our alarm at the reports we have seen in the media about your employer group’s dependence on the White House to intervene in your negotiations with the ILWU.

We understand the Bush administration has already weighed in unduly on the negotiations by threatening to support the employers against the ILWU, by imposing a Taft-Hartley injunction against the union, by passing legislation restricting the ILWU’s legal collective bargaining rights and by sending National Guard troops to take over the docks. And we are very disturbed by how the Bush administration is using the legitimate post 9-11 national security concerns to justify this anti-union activity.

The union’s legitimate concerns deserve the legal due process of collective bargaining without the government’s interference. We feel this is the only way real, productive bargaining can proceed. We fear these threats are why negotiations have dragged on unproductively for this long.

The [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] finds this matter of concern not only to West Coast dockers, but to workers throughout America. The Bush administration’s policy to take away the union representation and rights of government workers moved into the new Department of Homeland Security-a clear message that the White House sees unions as a national security threat-is an ominous sign. This demonizing of American workers cannot be tolerated. If basic civil rights are outlawed in the name of national security and international commerce, the terrorists have won.

We urge you to reconsider your negotiating strategy. We hope you will recognize the ILWU’s legitimate concerns and its legal right to collectively bargain without government interference and find a way to make a reasonable accommodation with the union. We want you to know that we join the rest of the American labor movement in giving these contract negotiations our outmost concern.

Netavisen 2. oktober 2002