The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) is mourning the shockingly early death of our comrade Bob Crow, general secretary of the ITF-affiliated RMT, and ITF executive board member from 2002 onwards.
ITF acting general secretary Stephen Cotton said: “Bob was such a vital, tough, campaigning tower of strength that it’s almost impossible to believe that he is no longer with us. Bob was many things: a true fighter for workers’ rights, an internationalist and an inspiration to the last. He was also a close personal friend. We are all now wishing his partner and children well even as we try to accept his passing.
“His family’s loss is also his members’ loss and the world trade union community’s loss. Bob’s untimely death has left a giant gap in our lives, both personal and as a global activist. He never faltered from the certainty that the global trade union movement could make a difference to workers’ lives. His work mobilising international support for workers, including those of Cuba and Palestine, will live on.”
ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: “Bob Crow was a worker and a leader of the working women and men in his union, in his country and in the world. His unassailable courage, moral persistence , generosity of spirit and inevitable humour inspired and encouraged trade unionists, civil rights advocates and politically progressive human beings in every field of endeavour to be more effective and try harder for a better and more equitable life for all, regardless of race, gender, age or material circumstance
“Bob was unrelenting in the active prosecution of this vision of a better world. His commitment started with the seafarers and rail workers of his union the RMT and flowed inexorably into the lives of all working people seeking affirmation and justice in the face of often extraordinary deprivation and persecution.
“He spoke with the honesty and directness of his actions and commitments. He was above all a family man who understood that the real wealth and value of our lives also springs from a loving nurturing of those closest to us: our parents, partners children and extended family.
“Our deepest and most sincere sympathies and thoughts reach out to his wife Nicky and children at this most tragic and heart-wrenching point, in the hope that this may ease their great pain in some way.
“Vale Bob our great friend and comrade, constant source of our determination for a more just and humane world. A man greatly loved, respected and admired by all those that believe that the workplace and communities of our lives belong to the many and not just the few. A man of family and friendship. A true internationalist and constant advocate for peace and true justice for all. Now at rest.”
All of the Prince Rupert Port Authority’s terminals saw a decline in the amount of product they handled in February, with the port seeing an overall decline of more than 16 per cent year-over-year.
All together 1,548,765 tonnes went through all of the Prince Rupert Port Authority’s operations last month, down 16.65 per cent from February of 2013 when 1,858,227 tonnes were handled. By the end of February 2013, port operations had moved 3,648,687.9 which is nearly 12 per cent less than this year’s year to date amount of 3,211,084.9 tonnes.
More at The Northern View
Bunge Ltd and Archer Daniels Midland Co, two of the world’s top agricultural trading houses, said recently that political tensions in Ukraine, a major grain exporter, were not affecting operations but that they were monitoring the unrest.
“We have not seen any significant impact to business and continue to monitor the situation,” ADM said in a statement.
U.S. grain futures have climbed on concerns about potential trade disruptions in Ukraine.
ADM, which has port facilities, an inland grain elevator system and an oilseed processing plant in Ukraine, said its primary concern was the safety of its employees. All were safe, according to the company.
More from Reuters
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was spurred by U.S. behind-the-scenes actions, says former Ohio congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.
Kucinich said the United States has been involved covertly and behind the scenes with the CIA and two government foreign aid groups, the National Endowment for Democracy and the United States Agency for International Development, to “stir up trouble in Ukraine.”
“What I’d do is not have USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy working with U.S. taxpayers’ money to knock off an elected government in Ukraine, which is what they did,” Kucinich answered. He said the United States should stay out of Ukraine’s affairs and let its people decide their future without outside interference.
More at Newsmax
Honduran authorities circulated this picture from the Oregonian in search of union dockworkers Carlos Alvarado, left, and Glen Galdames, as they picket outside Terminal 6 on March 4. Longshore workers walked off their jobs at the Port of Portland’s container terminal Tuesday in solidarity with the Hondurans, who are members of the SGTM union involved in a dispute with Filipino company ICTSI. (Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian)
News release from ILWU Coast Longshore Division:
ICTSI USES INFLUENCE WITH HONDURAN GOVERNMENT TO PERSECUTE DOCKWORKERS WHO PARTICIPATED IN PEACEFUL, LEGAL PICKET IN PORTLAND
AFL-CIO group urges US Embassy to take immediate action to protect workers from arrest and prosecution
PORTLAND, OR (MARCH 7, 2014) – The AFL-CIO-backed Solidarity Center sent a letter to the Ambassador of the United States in Honduras on March 6 urging him to “take immediate action and demand that the Honduran National Police cease and desist from actions it is taking in seeking to detain and arrest members of the Honduran port workers union Sindicato Gremial de Trabajadores del Muelle (SGTM) who legally and peacefully participated in a protest at the Port of Portland in Oregon, United States on March 4, 2014.”
On Tuesday, March 4, three elected leaders of the Honduran Port Workers Union (SGTM by its Spanish acronym) established a picket line in front of the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) operation at Terminal 6 in Portland. They held picket signs that read, “SGTM LOCKED OUT ICTSI” and explained that they are facing physical assault, military repression, death threats, and anti-union attacks since ICTSI won a concession to operate their cargo terminal in Puerto Cortes, Honduras, in February of 2013. Portland’s ILWU-represented dockworkers refused to cross the picket line in solidarity, and an arbitrator ruled that the work stoppage was not illegal under the collective bargaining agreement. When the port workers returned home to Honduras two days later, they learned that the Honduran National Police were seeking their detention and arrest for exercising their free speech rights at the ICTSI gate in Portland.
In its March 6 letter to the US Embassy, the Solidarity Center stated, “As a result of SGTM’s advocacy to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with ICTSI and improve working conditions for port workers in Puerto Cortes, the president of SGTM, Victor Crespo, received numerous threats, was assaulted, and fled the country to protect his life.” The letter explains that ICTSI recently fired SGTM-affiliated members and replaced them with new and less experienced workers, which resulted in a protest that was followed by police and military repression.
The Solidarity Center also accused ICTSI of using its influence with Honduran authorities to conduct reprisals against port workers: “It is also disturbing that the Honduran government and police appear to be acting on behalf of and under the direction of ICTSI, and that the company provided the Honduran government and police with the information of the protest in Portland and the picture of the SGTM members from the Oregonian.” The Solidarity Center further stated, “That ICTSI is utilizing its influence with the Honduran police to conduct reprisals on SGTM members raises even further concern about issues of corruption within the Honduran police and a continued failure by the Honduran police to respect and uphold human rights.”
ILWU International President Robert McEllrath said, “There is an urgent need to protect the Honduran port workers from persecution by the Honduran authorities on behalf of ICTSI. This is what we have come to expect from ICTSI – the company is a serial labor rights abuser doing what it wants when it wants regardless of the workers and communities it plunders. I give credit to the AFL-CIO for stepping up here and taking an immediate stand to protect these three good men: Victor Crespo, Carlos Alvarado and Glen Galdames. The situation is dire and requires immediate intervention.”
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s Coast Longshore Division represents the interests of approximately 25,000 men and women working on the docks in 30 ports on the West Coast of the United States. The ILWU was formed in 1934, and the Coast Longshore Division negotiates a coast-wide collective bargaining agreement with the approximately 75 waterfront employers that comprise the Pacific Maritime Association.
The dilapidated Berth 4 was once operated by Continental Grain Company until it was shuttered in the 1980s. Attempts to restart the terminal date back to the 1990s, but port officials abandoned those plans when they started pursuing the EGT grain terminal for the new Berth 9 site downriver.
Workers have started demolition work at the Port of Longview’s Berth 4, clearing out wooden decks to kick off redevelopment of one of the port’s oldest properties.
Port officials have identified the $12 million redevelopment of Berth 4 as a top priority to attract new industries and jobs to the area. In recent months, port officials have said they need to spend more than $70 million to upgrade aging equipment and facilities, and a divided port commission doubled the port’s tax collections in December to generate money for some of these projects.
More at the Daily News
Father Jeremy Lucas said he doesn’t hate the people who run United Grain but that he feels sorry and pity for them. ”Hate gets us nowhere,” he said. Lucas also called on the Port of Vancouver and on the city of Vancouver to repent their sins, including the city’s sin of choosing to send the police ”which you all pay the salaries of to harass you.” (Troy Wayrynen/The Columbian)
Excerpts from The Columbian:
Standing in the back of a Ford F-250 Ranger pickup, United Grain looming in the distance behind him, the Rev. Brooks Berndt of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Vancouver on Wednesday morning took aim at what he called the company’s greed. He urged the company to repent sins, including “the sin of barbarity in demanding a 12-hour workday to satisfy their lust for profit.”
A bullhorn magnifying his voice, Berndt, joined by the Rev. Jeremy Lucas of Christ Church Episcopal Parish in Lake Oswego, spoke on Ash Wednesday to some 75 members of the ILWU and their supporters who’d gathered outside United Grain’s gate on the Port of Vancouver’s east side.
Berndt accused United Grain of some 13 sins, including the sin of “theft in stealing the right to work,” the sin of “heartlessness in failing to acknowledge the humanity of their workers” and the sin of “manipulation in hiring replacement workers who need the money.”
Every time Berndt spoke of a sin, those who’d gathered replied, “O Lord, may they repent their sins.”
Both Berndt and Lucas quoted from Scripture.
Cager Clabaugh, president of the ILWU’s local unit in Vancouver, said the union has expectant mothers hurting from the loss of work at United Grain and “people struggling to put food on their tables.”
Excerpts from the Journal of Commerce:
The chief negotiator for waterfront employers on the West Coast is optimistic that the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union will reach a contract agreement this summer without a strike or lockout.
PMA President Jim McKenna predicted that an agreement will be reached in mid to late July. This prediction may still make cargo interests nervous, given the fact that the current six-year contract will expire on July 1, but it reflects the reality of the negotiation process.
McKenna emphasized that the 2014 contract negotiations will center on costly issues such as the Cadillac tax on the ILWU’s generous health-care plan, the dockworker pension plan and jurisdictional disputes, but the more controversial issues of technology and automation were largely resolved in the 2002 and 2008 contracts.
Read the rest at the JOC
Excerpts from The Oregonian:
The Port of Portland’s Terminal 6 shut down again Wednesday, this time after a verbal altercation between container-yard employees and longshore workers.
“Today ICTSI and Port supervisors threatened top loader drivers with physical violence, showing once again that ICTSI and the Port are working in collusion against union members,” said ILWU spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent, in an emailed statement.
“ICTSI has a global reputation for being heavy-handed, and they are failing at their first attempt at running a U.S. port,” Sargent said. “If Hanjin leaves Portland, it’s because ICTSI has created a toxic environment for Terminal 6′s longtime workforce.”
Read the rest here
Honduran dockworkers have suffered massive job losses, violence and militarization of their cargo terminal since ICTSI took over operations at Puerto Cortes in 2013.
This Associated Press article was published in news outlets in Oregon, Washington, California, Texas, Indiana and beyond:
Labor turmoil continues at the Port of Portland as longshoreman refused to cross a picket line established by Central American port workers.
The container terminal at the Port of Portland is operated by ICTSI Oregon, Inc., subsidiary of a Philippines-based company that operates a port in Honduras that has had a labor-management dispute.
Union members from Honduras established a picket line in Portland on Tuesday and local longshoremen honored it.
An International Longshore & Warehouse Union spokeswoman says longshoremen have a contractual right to not cross picket lines.
Read the rest here
Global grain giant Louis Dreyfus Corp, a Western Canadian canola crusher and grain handler, estimates the region’s canola area at 21.51 million acres in 2014/15, up 7 percent from a year ago.
Based on a return to normal yields, that area should result in a 16.7 million tonne crop, down nearly 9 percent, said Tracy Lussier, manager of canola trading at Louis Dreyfus, speaking at the Wild Oats Grainworld conference in Winnipeg.
From First Perspective:
Community, local and regional initiatives can often be lost in the larger dialogue of multinational corporations and the work they do.
The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business hopes to change that by providing the opportunity for that dialogue to happen between big business and the entrepreneurial spirit of the First Nations people through a series of aboriginal business luncheons.
At a luncheon in Regina on March 5 at First Nations University, the keynote speaker will be Alex Archilla, asset president for BHP Billiton Potash, who, this past summer took charge of the $2.6-billion Jansen Project in the Treaty 4 Territory of Saskatchewan.
Jansen, the world’s best undeveloped potash resource, is capable of supporting a mine with capacity of 10 million tonnes a year for more than 50 years.
More at First Perspective
The Panama Canal Authority expects to formally sign a deal next week with a Spanish-led consortium to finish work on expansion of the waterway after a dispute over cost overruns held up completion, an official said on Friday.
“We expect that by Thursday we should be signing said document,” Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Quijano told reporters a day after announcing a deal with the GUPC consortium, which is led by Spanish builder Sacyr and Italy’s Salini Impregilo.
The deal, which was outlined on Thursday, foresees the consortium finishing work by December 2015 and would require both the Panama Canal Authority and GUPC to each inject $100 million for immediate cash flow needs to fully resume work.
More at Chicago Tribune
Excerpts from The Oregonian:
The West Coast longshore union is blasting a review requested by Gov. John Kitzhaber of conditions at the Port of Portland’s container terminal before it even gets started.
The timing and nature of the longshore statement, which describes the Port’s probe as a case of “the fox guarding the hen house,” is further evidence of deeply toxic relations between the union and its adversaries: the Port and terminal operator ICTSI Oregon Inc.
Port officials are scrambling to hire a consultant and define the scope of the review. In response to questions Friday, Jennifer Sargent, a spokeswoman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, emailed a statement condemning the process.
“The Port and ICTSI collude on lawsuits against the union, and any report they commission will lack neutrality and produce whatever result they’re paying for,” Sargent said. “ICTSI has continually ignored the union’s suggestions for improvement, and the Port has not consulted with the union for information on equipment failures at Terminal 6.”
More at the Oregonian