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Occupy Wall Street's Latest Plan: Occupying West Coast Ports
December 9, 2011 11:15 AM
PORT IN THE STORM
As the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to evolve, protestors have employed a myriad of ways to get their populist message across. There were the various occupations of public spaces, starting with Zuccotti Park; there was also Occupy Friday, a boycott of big retailers like
) on Black Friday and a similar Occupy Christmas planned for later this month.
The latest method of protest that Occupy Wall Street activists have come up with is a plan West Coast port blockade. On Monday, protestors on the West Coast are planning to shut down all ports along the West Coast in an effort to disrupt the businesses of the big companies like EGT (of which
) is the largest partner),
) and Maersk that do business at the ports. Blockades are planned in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland and Anchorage, among others.
According to the movement’s
, one key reason, besides the movement’s central message of fighting corporate power, behind this planned blockage, was to demonstrate solidarity with the workers at the port.
The ports play a pivotal role in the flow and growth of capital for the 1% in this country and internationally. For that reason alone it is the ideal place to disrupt their profit machine. The workers on these ports have always understood that; they have consistently staged shutdowns for political reasons, honored community picket lines, and led the labor movement. A general disruption of commerce, in protest of the nationally coordinated attacks on Occupy movements alone is warranted, but additionally, the specifically targeted attacks on workers at these ports by the 1% further necessitate this call to action.
Truck drivers on ports in southern California were fired in a union busting attack when they attempted an organizing campaign. Workers, especially in the Latino community, are organizing a “stay away” to withhold labor on December 12, the day of Our Virgin Of Guadalupe. Occupy LA voted to also blockade the SSA ports, owned by Goldman Sachs. In solidarity, Occupy Oakland voted unanimously to expand this call to all of the West Coast ports.
reports that the big union that represents a large number of dock workers, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, is far from supportive of the movement’s plans.
Any action on behalf of longshoremen today should also be led by the workers themselves, the union's current president said, "Support is one thing, organization from outside groups attempting to co-opt our struggle in order to advance a broader agenda is quite another," Robert McEllrath wrote in a Dec. 6 letter to ILWU locals.
If dock workers do not support the port occupation, it could be difficult for the movement to garner the large numbers necessary to occupy the numerous ports up and down the West Coast that may prove too big to block. There has to be enough protestors blocking terminal entrances and exits such that a local arbitrator will have no choice but to declare the scene to be a health and safety hazard, which then would halt all port activity.
With the Occupy movement momentum having been slowed after a string of police raids that have evicted protestors from many occupation sites across the country, this planned blockade will be a strong indicator of whether or not the movement will have enough public traction to continue for the foreseeable future.
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Is Wall Street Slowly But Surely Getting Swayed by the Occupy Movement?
No positions in stocks mentioned.
OCCUPY WALL STREET
OCCUPY BLACK FRIDAY
WEST COAST PORT BLOCKADE
WEST COAST PORT SHUTDOWN
INTERNATIONAL LONGSHORE AND WAREHOUSE UNION
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