The ILWU is trying to break the will of EGT Development, a multinational agribusiness that recently built a $200 million grain terminal in Longview. It's a state-of-the-art facility with unprecedented automation features that will speed unloading, increase shipping capacity and bring in tens of millions of dollars in lease and tax payments alone to the region.
EGT needs a nimble 21st-century workforce. The entitled overlords of the ILWU, who have ruled West Coast ports since the 1930s, are demanding a monopoly on the company's master control system, control over the work hour structure, excessive mandatory breaks and extortionist man-hour "premiums" to bail out the union's underfunded pension. "We've worked these elevators since 1934, and we've always been in that master console," local ILWU President Dan Coffman told public radio.
EGT refused and instead brought in an outside contractor with a different union to fill about 50 jobs. But the ILWU water-carriers in the Occupy movement don't care about those workers. Or the American farmers who have been hurt by the port saboteurs. Or the independent non-union truckers who were forced to forgo work in the name of worker empowerment. Trucker Hai Ngo of San Leandro, Calif., told the San Francisco Chronicle: "The Occupy people handed out flyers to us, but never asked what we thought before they planned this. I will lose about $350, and at holiday time that hurts. It's just a waste of our time and money, and won't accomplish anything."
Unfortunately, Ngo and blue-collar workers like him are collateral damage in the ILWU's ruthless battle for Big Labor survival. Coffman, who has stoked violence for months, vowed earlier this year that "we will fight to the end to secure what is rightfully our turf."
And now the gasping longshoremen's union has a whole new set of Occu-tools to do the dirty work for them.