SEATTLE – After a several-block march along the Elliot Bay waterfront, 2,000 supporters and members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) rallied outside the Port of Seattle offices.
Downtown traffic was blocked for miles as the rally went on to the street from Pier 37. Many of the stalled motorists, bus and truck drivers honked their horns and gave a “thumbs up” in support of the longshore workers.
This was not the only illustration that Seattle is still a union city. Earlier in the day, a press conference was called by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and King County Executive Ron Sims at the King County Courthouse. Their message was clear: George W. Bush, keep the troops out of our port!
Sims, who took the podium first, declared, “We are here to urge the administration not to intervene in the negotiations.” He talked about the need to create an environment that would allow the collective bargaining process to succeed.
Nickels followed up saying that there had been no strike by the longshore workers in 30 years. He said, “Bush is giving the idea that there another avenue to collective bargaining – the threat of the National Guard replacing the workers.” To this notion, Nickels stated, “Bush shouldn’t get in the way.”
When asked about the idea of the National Guard doing the job of longshore workers, Sims said, “Port jobs are skilled jobs. Just like I couldn’t be a opera singer, the National Guard cannot do the work of longshore workers.”
Support for the longshore workers was also given by King County Council President, Cynthia Sullivan and Seattle City Council President Peter Steinbrueck. The mayor of Tacoma has also stood with the ILWU in their struggle.
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