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ILWU International President Brian McWilliams' speech for WTO labor rally


The free trade advocates of the WTO have come to Seattle to further their
strategic takeover of the global economy. We in the ILWU want to give them
the welcome they deserve and let them know what we think of their plans.

So we've closed the Port of Seattle and other ports on the West Coast. There
will be no business as usual today. 

In closing these ports the ILWU is demonstrating to the corporate
CEOs and their agents here in Seattle that the global economy will not run
without the consent of the workers. And we don't just mean longshore
workers, but workers everywhere in this country and around the world.
When the ILWU boycotted cargo from El Salvador and apartheid South
Africa, when we would not work scab grapes from the California valley or
cross picket lines in support of the fired Liverpool dockers, these were
concrete expressions of our understanding that the interests of working
people transcend national and local boundaries, and that labor solidarity
truly means that when necessary we will engage in concrete action.

That is why the ILWU is here today, with all of you--to tell the
agents of global capital that we, the workers, those who care about social
justice and protecting our rights and our planet, will not sit quietly by
while they meet behind closed doors to carve up our world. We know that
what they have in mind for us is a race to the bottom, dismantling our
protective laws wherever they find us weak, that they want to pit workers of one
country against the workers of another, to erase our protections and
standards in an international corporate feeding frenzy in which workers
are not just on the menu--we are the main course. We will not cooperate!
We know our history, our legacy and our ongoing responsibility. No
one can make this statement stronger than longshore workers who make their
living moving international cargo. And what do we want? We demand fair
trade--not free trade--not the policies of the WTO that are devastating
workers everywhere and the planet that sustains us.

And let us be clear. Let's not allow the free traders to paint us as
isolationist anti-traders. We are for trade. Don't ever forget--it is the
labor of working people that produces all the wealth. When we say we
demand fair trade policies we mean we demand a world in which trade brings
dignity and fair treatment to all workers, with its benefits shared fairly and
equally, a world in which the interconnectedness of trade promotes peace
and encourages healthy and environmentally sound and sustainable development,
a world which promotes economic justice and social justice and environmental
sanity. The free traders promote economic injustice, social injustice and
environmental insanity.

We are sending the WTO this message loud and clear. We will not sit
idly by while you corporate puppets of the WTO plot this economic coup.

You will not seize control of our world without a fight.

Are you ready for the fight? Damn right!

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