Victory to the Charleston Longshoremen!
Date: 02/27 1:53 PM
From: Jack Heyman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Victory to the Charleston Longshoremen!
February 27, 2000
For the first time since the January 20 police riot against
Charleston dockworkers, ILA Local 1422 members picketed a scab Nordana
ship, the M/V Stjernborg. This time, on February 24, they were joined on the
picket line by representatives of International Longshore and Warehouse
Union Local 10, its President Lawrence Thibeaux and Executive Board member
Jack Heyman, at the Columbus Street Terminal. Confronted again by a
massive display of police force, the picketers limited to 19 by a court
marched and chanted defiantly, "ILA!, ILA! ILA!" and "Ain't
no power like
the power of the union, 'cause the power of the union won't stop!"
The South Carolina States Port Authority had delayed the ship's
for fear that union longshoremen and checkers would try to stop the scab
loading operation by nonunion Winyah Stevedoring or it would interfere
with the dock operations of other larger ships in port.
Solidarity Can Defeat Union-busting!
ILWU Local 10, along with the other ILWU locals in Northern
the Liverpool dockers and the Coordinadora Dockworkers Union of Spain had
responded to ILA Local 1422 president Kenneth Riley's appeal for support.
At a Local 1422 press conference the previous day President Thibeaux
presented a check from Local 10 for $5,000 to the Dockworkers Defense
Fund to assist in the legal battle of the Charleston longshoremen, clerks
maintenance workers. At the rally on the picket line Heyman was
applauded when he said that West Coast longshoremen stand solidly with the
embattled Charleston longshoremen. These acts of solidarity clearly
heartened the rank and file longshore workers.
The ILA had a signed collective bargaining agreement with
Danish shipping line, until last year when the shipping line paid its
unfunded liability in pension and welfare contributions, broke the
contract and started using nonunion Winyah Stevedoring. In 1989, when
stevedoring outfit tried to start up in Wilmington, North Carolina just
across the border it was met by hundreds of protesting longshoremen from
South Atlantic ports. Unfortunately, scab operations have hit the ILA
hard in the so-called "right-to-work" South. Reportedly, the
port of New
Orleans has 50% nonunion longshore operations, while Houston is 80%
The increased globalization of the economy can be seen in the
international amalgamation of shipowners (Maersk and Sealand, OOCL and
APL) and the establishment of global shipping alliances. Waterfront
located at the critical point of international transportation have been
targeted by governments and employers as restraints against their policies
of "free trade".
The successful anti-union attacks on dockworkers in Britain,
Mexico, Holland and Brazil have whetted their appetites for more. Now
waters are being tested in Charleston, South Carolina. Apparently, the
ILA leadership has deemed this attack a "local" problem.
The Real Story Behind the Charleston Police Riot
Longshore action on January 2 forced a Nordana ship to leave the port
Charleston with 25 boxes and heavy equipment still on the dock and
unloaded by the scab Winyah Stevedoring company. When the M/V
Skodsborg arrived on January 20, the state provocatively mobilized a massive
display of police
power-several hundred riot police (SWAT and SLED) and local police,
tanks, armored cars, helicopters, concussion grenades, shotguns, dogs and
gas-all in an effort to intimidate and repress longshore workers from
demonstrating. Police saber rattling had already begun before the midnight
picketing when the longshore union was informed that police were amassing
riot gear and clearing out the county and city jails. It didn't stop the
courageous longshoremen and clerks.
As hundreds of union picketers approached the phalanx of police
gear, one cop lunged forward with his club. A longshoreman pulled the
cop's club and both tumbled to the ground. Immediately a swarm of cops
and beat the beleaguered longshoreman. A melee ensued. Local
intervened to try to quell their members. When President Kenneth
who had been facing the longshoremen with his back to the cops, turned to
police to ask their restraint, he was clubbed over the head. Seeing
blood streaming down the face of their president, Local 1422 members
justifiably flew into a rage. One longshoreman confronted by a state
trooper pointing the barrell of a shotgun at him, bared his chest and cried
"Pull the trigger, 'cause we ain't gonna stop fightin' for our
trooper declined to fire rather than create a martyr for the struggle.
Another picketer was struck by a police car careening into the
demonstrators and landed on top of the vehicle. Ten were hospitalized.
Eight longshore workers were initially arrested for
charges were later increased to "rioting and conspiracy".
dismissed the charges once he realized that the first several minutes
the police video were suspiciously edited out. Four ILA men have now
indicted by anti-labor, anti-black and pro-cop South Carolina Attorney
General Condon. The African American newspaper of Charleston in its
February 23 issue ran a banner headline: "ILA, Cops Melee Planned By
Cops?", while the viciously anti-union Post and Courier (whose front
helped frame a longshoreman) pontificated in an editorial (January 21)
"Labor violence on Charleston's waterfront must not be rewarded."
internationally must come to the aid of our black and white brothers and
They're being railroaded by a racist, anti-union Attorney General
ambitions to run for governor on a "right-to-work" and
platform. Simultaneously, the longshore unions are under attack
politically in the state legislature. Attempts are being made to
"right-to-work" law to make it more difficult for unions to
or fees and also ban union members from positions on the State Ports
Labor Unity and the Fight Against Racism
A few days before the dock clash on January 20, forty members of ILA
Local 1422 with their union banner travelled to Columbia to
participate in a
mass protest against the battle flag of the Confederacy, the symbol of
being flown over the state capitol building. The port of Charleston is
also a tourist mecca. It showcases beautiful palm tree-lined streets
magnificently restored colonial buildings, including its old slave market
where the ancestors of today's longshoremen were shamefully bought and
sold like cattle. It took a civil war to end slavery.
Then, in 1867, black
dockworkers in Charleston formed the first labor organization of freed
slaves, the Longshoremen's Protective Union Association, and won a strike
for higher wages.
The first shot in the Civil War was fired in Charleston at Fort
then under control of the Union army. Ironically, it is once again in
port of Charleston where the class war-to defend unions and the decent
living standards and working conditions they provide-is being fought.
Victory to the Charleston longshoremen!
To help the Charleston longshoremen in their legal battle please send
your contribution to:
Dockworkers Defense Fund
c/o Robert J. Ford,
Treasurer of the Fund
910 Morrison Drive
Jack Heyman #8780
ILWU Local 10
San Francisco, California