Labor Representation On Port Commissions except in Oakland
|ILWU Local 10 Challenges Oakland Mayor Dellums On Refusal to Have ILWU
Representation On Port Commission
Longshoremen on Port Commissions are Common Occurrences except in Oakland
THE MARITIME DIVISION of the Port of Oakland is the 4th largest in the
nation. It is an economic engine for both the local and regional economy.
The Portıs maritime division is under performing and not functioning up to
its full capacity. With the top 10 container ports enjoying an 8.2% growth
rate (2000 to 2005), Oaklandıs growth has been below average over the same
period. There is currently no port commissioner who has a shipping
industry background. The new commissioners must be able to meet the
challenges the maritime division now faces.
The International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) has had representation
on all the major Port Commissions on the West Coast including Los Angeles,
Seattle, Tacoma, Portland and San Francisco. ILWU members have served for
decades starting with the legendary founder of the ILWU Harry Bridges who
was appointed to the San Francisco Port Commission in the 1970ıs. The Port
of Los Angeles along with Long Beach is the largest container port in
America. Last year Mayor Villarigosa of Los Angeles appointed a Local 13
longshoreman. Recently the governor of Oregon, with approval from the state
legislature, appointed an ILWU member to the Portland Port Commission.
The Port of Oakland is the only major port on the West Coast that has never
had an ILWU member to serve. During the course of his mayoral campaign
candidate Dellums articulated his support for an ILWU member to serve on the
Port Commission. The ILWU Local 10 membership representing some 1,200
Longshoremen who move cargo at the Port, submitted a member who has been
extensively involved with Port matters and the community, for consideration.
The ILWU is a unique entity intersecting with labor, the shipping industry
and the community.
Local 10 is an integral stake holder of the Port: it has lobbied elected
officials in Washington, DC for dredging funding to keep the Port
competitive; in 1999, it implemented an employment provision to ensure
Oakland residents receive Longshore jobs; it worked with the Port to build
community support for Port expansion; it was a key coalition builder for the
project labor agreement; it works with the community, environmental groups,
and regulatory agencies to reduce pollution at the Port; and it has a member
serving on Mayor Dellumsı Port Task Force.
The ILWU is in a most strategic position, it provides the labor for all 29
ports on the West Coast and is primarily responsible for making maritime
ports productive, safe and efficient. For the past 73 years it has
negotiated contracts with the most powerful segments of the corporate
sector, the shipping industry, which that makes billions of dollars in
Local 10ıs economic and social justice activism is well documented. Its
history includes making Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. an honorary member in
1967 and providing financial support to the civil rights movement; refusing
to load or unload cargo in the 1970ıs and 80ıs to protest apartheid in South
Africa; obtaining containers for the shipment of humanitarian and
educational materials to countries in southern Africa and Latin America in
the1980ıs; securing containers at the request of Congresswoman Barbara Lee
so that much needed supplies could be shipped to Katrina survivors which
prompted other Longshore locals on the West Cost to donate money,
construction supplies, and vehicles; and donating $10,000 to Local 6 workers
of Waste Management who honored the picket line during the recent lockout.
Our member was contacted by one of the mayorıs aides and was informed that
he was not selected by Dellums for the Port Commission. Upon further
inquiry on the process used, it was revealed that the mayor did not sit-in
on any of the interviews. The union found his actions extremely
disappointing. One would think that the mayor would be more hands on in
this process due to the significance of the appointment. Our members think
that it is unconscionable that Dellums would not be apart of interviews for
port appointments. His actions suggest to our membership that this was his
way of having plausible denial for failing to keep his commitment of putting
an ILWU member on the Port Commission.
Why didnıt the mayor interview the most viable candidates? Who was consulted
other than the mayorıs inner circle and staff (some of his key staffers are
not longtime city residents). This begs the question of what criteria was
used for selecting the port nominees? If it was the mayorıs intent to bring
representation from labor and the community to the Port Commission one would
be hard pressed to understand why an ILWU member was not one of the nominees
sent to the Oakland City Council.
ILWU Local 10 is willing, ready, and able to serve on the Port Commission no
matter what the final outcome of the mayorıs hycurrent nominees. If not
now, when will you appoint an ILWU member Mr. Mayor?
ILWU Local 10 Public Relations Committee
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