SEIU Local 1021, consisting of 200+ port workers at the Port of Oakland, had been without a contract for more than a year. The Port’s management had demanded concessions on health care benefits and was proposing other take backs as well, all the while showing massive surpluses while having their executives caught “entertaining” at strip clubs and falsifying the expense reports.
The Local decided a couple of months ago that enough was enough (or not enough, as it were). Knowing that their membership wasn’t single-handedly capable of pulling off a major action at the Port, they reached out to other labor unions, Occupy Oakland, the Justice for Alan Blueford Coalition, and other activist groups over the weekend before Thanksgiving, bringing them in on plans to shut down the Port of Oakland in a one-day strike on November 20th. And shut it down they did. With the support of ILWU dockworkers who refused to cross the picket lines, I’m told no cargo went in or out of the port for 24 hours.
That was more than sufficient to force Mayor Quan (she who called Occupy Oakland’s identical one-day shutdown of the Port on December 12th, 2011 “economic violence”) to send her flying monkeys off to bring the two parties back to the negotiating table, claiming credit for being a peacemaker — while taking pains not to speak of economic violence.
The result of this one day action and subsequent restarted negotiations? The Port caved. Big time.
Union workers announced Saturday they had voted yes to ratify a no concessions, four-year contract with the Port of Oakland after the workers went on strike last month…
Some of the tentative agreements highlighted by the union in the contract include a 2.5 percent cost of living increase in 2013 and 2014, a signing bonus of $3,500 for each employee and all economic takeaways withdrawn, among others.
We know where the real credit lies, and it’s not with Jean Quan. It’s with the hundreds of workers and community activists who came out in the miserable wet and cold at 5:00 AM, set up the pickets lines, and didn’t leave until the all-clear was sounded late that afternoon. And with their implicit but clear threat that they were prepared to do it again if necessary, longer and with even more people.
We know what the lesson is. No one is going to take you seriously unless you are prepared to be serious, prepared to hurt the one percent in the only place it matters — in their pocketbooks.
Shut it down. Just make sure Alyssa is there to tweet about it!
Photo Credits: Occupy Oakland’s Daniel A.
Check out the original essay, with it’s discussion of the possible ramifications of this successful action on Michigan.