International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 will stage a port-wide shutdown next Saturday, December 9, in support of maritime workers who have been battling the new non-union Alcatraz ferry operation for over two months now.
Maritime workers have issued a call for a mass march and picket on the same day, calling on "all union members and their allies to join us." The march will start at 9:15 AM at Harry Bridges Plaza across from the Ferry Building. The march will proceed to Hornblower's "Alcatraz Landing" at Pier 33, where mass picketing will begin at 10:00 AM.
Workers from the Inlandboatmen's Union and the International Masters' Mates and Pilots have maintained a spirited picket line for over two months, ever since the Bush administration's National Park Service turned over the Alcatraz ferry service to Hornblower -- a blatant attack on the long-standing union jurisdiction over San Francisco's port.
Well over a month ago, the San Francisco Labor Council passed a resolution declaring that they "can not allow a viciously anti-union operation to get a foothold in the heart of our labor citadel," and pledging to "mobilize the whole of the labor movement for mass picketing at Pier 33 and the San Francisco waterfront."
We will see Saturday if the deeds of the SF Labor Council match those militant words.
Hornblower was recently described by the San Francisco Business Times as a company with the "wind in its sales." A foul wind indeed, blown all the way from the stench in our nation's capital.
Despite its allies in Washington, Hornblower has encountered a bit of rough water lately. Hornblower had expected the National Park Service to approve their request for a 45% increase in the Alcatraz fare, from the current $18.75 to a whopping $27. Instead, the park service only approved a $3 increase, to $21.75.
None of that fare increase will go to Hornblower. It will all go to the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the non-profit organization that works with the park service to provide research, interpretation and conservation programs.
The denial of Hornblower's fare increase came after Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter to the park service "strongly" opposing Hornblower's request. Pelosi's letter was sent before the November election, but the decision to deny Hornblower's fare increase came after the election, and may have been motivated at least in part by the fact that Pelosi, as the soon-to-be Speaker of the House, will have some real power over the park service's budget.
Pelosi's letter also expressed her "great displeasure with the loss of a unionized workforce on the Alcatraz ferry service."
Alcatraz ferry workers, also very displeased, have "opened up a new front" by bringing "the fight into cyberspace," launching a new website at www.AlcatrazUnion.com
. This website is proudly proclaims that it is "run by rank & file workers." Check it out.
In another day and age, long before the internet, a famous labor leader summed up the state of the world this way:
"One class now owns the tools while another class uses them. One class is small and rich and the other large and poor. One wants more profit and the other more wages. One consists of capitalists and the other of workers. These two classes are at war. Every day of truce is at the expense of labor."
Those were the words of Eugene Debs, a man who got nearly a million votes when he ran for President in 1920, even though he was locked down in prison serving a ten-year sentence for his opposition to US participation in World War I.
I'd like to see Nancy Pelosi put that in her next letter.
See you all Saturday.
Copyright (c) 2006 by Marc Norton
Marc Norton is a bellman at a small hotel in downtown San Francisco. He can be reached at email@example.com, and through his website at www.MarcNorton.us.