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A brief history of the past year: Bush the Seconder declares war on:
Osama Bin Laden;
American Civil Liberties,
This week (10/8) it's
American Working Class.
In response to an alleged
by the ILWU, the PMA
lockout on 9/29/02 - creating a phony crisis,
leveraging a suspension of wages against the workers in order to
gain an upper hand in contract negotiations that have been in dispute since July 2002.
The ILWU cites
safety concerns and mismanagement
as the cause for the slowdown, but what seems clear is that a core issue behind the negotiations
has been the PMA's efforts to undermine the ILWU by making new technological positions non-union.
The PMA is backing out of the landmark 1960s
Mechanization and Modernization Agreement
that allowed the shipping industry to replace labor with machinery, but granted the new jobs
created to the union, thus allowing labor to stay organized and industry to become more
efficient - all without creating the kind of conflict we are seeing now.
The PMA would like to see the union phased out, to cease to exist, poof, so that
the interests of working men and women dissolve in a cloud of profits. This particular case
is a crack in the damn.
The Bush administration is more than happy to join in the effort.
Bush has imposed the Taft-Hartley Act,
the first such use of the act to end a lockout,
to put the workers back to work under the terms of the previous agreement for 80 days (after which the same act can
be invoked again, and again, as a so-called "cooling-off period" during which employers can escalate the
conflict, as has happened
over and over again in the past 50 years).
While the workers were stuck out in the cold, the PMA was
packing heat, and the union bosses
are forgetting about the rank and file.
For a debate on the economics involved check with Max,
or just note that cheap labor means poor consumers - which is to say
"Tracy Mullin, president of the National Retail Federation, said:
'The President has shown political courage and leadership.'" apparently by giving into the
"many business groups" that "lobbied for him to seek an injunction". What a hero. Bush's anti-union
mission is hardly unique.