Longshore workers find more support

SEATTLE – On August 27, Governor Gary Locke sent a letter to President Bush to help keep federal troops off the docks and out of the longshore labor dispute happening on the West Coast.

The final paragraph of the letter reads, “I urge you not to intervene in this ongoing labor negotiation, as any such intervention would be harmful to the swift resolution of this labor dispute. I strongly believe the parties should be left to resolve their differences at the bargaining table.”

Eight West Coast senators, 40 members of Congress and many county and municipal elected officials have also written similar letters.

Washington State Jobs with Justice (JwJ), which helped organize the large Aug. 12 rally here, is continuing the fight. Twice this month JwJ activists will be leafleting customers in front of a local Payless Shoe Source store. Payless, along with corporations like WalMart and Nike, belongs to the West Coast Waterfront Coalition, an organization formed to break the longshore union.

At the King County Labor Council’s annual Labor Day celebration, the possible lockout of 10,500 West Coast longshore workers loomed largest in the list of local labor struggles. Union workers, labor and community leaders as well as many local politicians and candidates castigated big business and the Bush administration for meddling in the bargaining process between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association.

“We’re ready to do whatever it takes to help those guys,” said Steve Williamson, the executive secretary of the King County Labor Council.

The author can be reached at commiett@yahoo.com