AFL-CIO steps up support for West Coast dockers

SAN FRANCISCO – The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) just received a huge solidarity commitment from the national AFL-CIO as the West Coast dockers continue to face one of the most challenging contract negotiations in the union’s history. Last Tuesday, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson told the ILWU Longshore Caucus that the AFL-CIO will do “everything and anything the ILWU needs to get the contract you are entitled to.” This includes a team of AFL-CIO staff that will fly into the Bay Area to work by the ILWU’s side.

Chavez-Thompson’s solidarity words were met with a standing ovation from the 85-member caucus. James Spinosa, ILWU international president, expressed to Chavez-Thompson his deep appreciation for the AFL-CIO’s solidarity.

As we went to press, the AFL-CIO vice president was expected to repeat the solidarity message publicly at a July 24 rally here in solidarity with the ILWU. The rally, called by the California Federation of Labor, was held during that organization’s convention, with hundreds of labor delegates from throughout the state participating.

These solidarity actions are significant, since the ILWU employers, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), continue to put forth demands that would outsource jobs, violate ILWU jurisdiction and weaken the union’s health care and other benefits.

Steve Stallone, ILWU communications director, told the World that the caucus voted unanimously to reject the PMA’s package of proposals, which include refusing to give the ILWU the jobs where work is expanding off the docks.

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