This morning, vmars brought our attention to the sparse news coverage of the developing port shutdown by the International Longshoremen’s Association, a protest over local jobs lost. Vmars likened the union action to the real Boston Tea Party, lamenting that if you don’t have the antics, hate or handguns of a Tea Party rally, you don’t get much news coverage.
Now, the union action is spreading, and a solidarity work stoppage is shutting down all cargo terminals at the Port of New York. A picket line was set up by members of the ILA, and New York’s dock workers are not crossing it.
Shut down now are the ports in Camden, Port Elizabeth, Newark, Bayonne and New York.
The heart of all this is the loss of jobs paying a living wage – International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1291 is set to lose 200 to 300 jobs – 400,000 labor hours a year – when when Del Monte Fresh Produce Co. shifts 75 ships and a half million tons of banana cargo from Camden to the privately-owned Gloucester Terminals L.L.C., which pays workers less, and where some workers get no benefits. The company plans to move those jobs even though the union offered considerable concessions to keep those jobs, including an offer to Del Monte that would keep business, dock and terminal workers at $21.50-$22.50 down from top rates of $31 per hour. In frustration at the loss of Del Monte’s banana-shipping jobs, dock workers dumped cases of Del Monte pineapple into the Delaware River.
There’s some talk now of solidarity actions spreading to ports in Florida and Texas.