Verizon: union win

John Gulick jlgulick at
Tue Aug 22 17:42:52 PDT 2000

Nathan Newman sez:

>One point worth emphasizing- non-union organizations can do many things
>that are completely legal for them which would be illegal for a union ...
>However, a nonunion group of lefties unaffiliated and unfunded by labor
>could legally picket at such a place without any bad legal consequences
>for the union.

A good example of this occurred at the Port of Oakland 3 years ago.

A ship w/cargo loaded by scabs arrived at the Port of Oakland. Lefty internationalists inside the longshore workers union (the ILWU) wanted a work stoppage but knew they couldn't do it under the terms of their collective bargaining agreement. Unaffiliated organizations and individuals into the global labor solidarity cause were called upon to set up a protest picket line. An arbitrator ruled that ILWU members didn't have to work the ship b/c the picketers comprised a health and safety threat to the dockers (the picketers made sure to growl and grimace when the arbitrator showed up, although in all candor the stevedores could've kicked the asses of the picketers). Despite some back and forth wrangling in the courts, the Neptune Jade never deposited the scab cargo anywhere on the U.S. West Coast.

Ironically, it was an example of quite successful collaboration between a standard (although very progressive) industrial union and a motley bunch of anarcho-syndicalists (many were members of the IWW, such as it was, but participated as sympathetic individuals so as to avoid legal harrassment). Without the juridical device of the ILWU workers being able to refuse work on the basis of health and safety dangers, the global labor solidarity activists wouldn't have been able to keep the dockers from crossing the lines (or at least if the dockers hadn't crossed the lines the ILWU would've faced stiff reprisals). A combination of 2 or 3 radicals inside the ILWU and many more outside the ILWU were able to strategically use a standard capital-labor agreement to their advantage. For those longshore workers who didn't really give a flying f*** about global solidarity, at the very least they got a paid holiday.

So maybe Nathan and ChuckO aren't that far apart after all. (Of course, my story begs many questions).

John Gulick

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list