West Coast Port Blockade - San Diego

author: 
compiled from folks at blockade

In response to the West Coast Port Blockade call-out (video on youtube) by Occupy Oakland, San Diego Port Shutdown staged an action on Monday at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal that resulted in the two entrances being blocked for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, many workers going home, and the north entrance blocked throughout the day. Over one hundred cops - sdpd, harbor police and dhs agents - were attempting to shut down the action. Four protesters were arrested at the south entrance.

The ports of Oakland, Portland, Longview and Vancouver were blockaded Monday morning, and the SSA terminals at LA/LB were shut down. Disruptions occurred at Seattle and Houston, and solidarity actions at numerous other locations were reported. The blockade of the port of Oakland continued into Tuesday.
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Fifty or so people gathered at 6am at Chican@ Park and marched to Cesar Chavez Park, and the numbers grew They then established a picket line, a blockade of the south entrance to the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, which was offloading bananas from Dole's operation in Ecuador. The blockade basically stopped the flow of trucks, in and out, At its peak, about 75-80 people were participating.

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Dole Bananas from Ecuador - What's the Prob?

Ecuador exports more bananas than any other country. Most of the global production of bananas - 87% - is controlled by a handful of large corporations, including Dole, Del Monte and Chiquita (==United Fruit). These corporations manage all stages production, from cultivation to import and ripening as a way of maximizing profits.

Dole focuses their cultivation efforts in countries that have the most lax labor laws, especially Ecuador and Costa Rica. Ecuador produces bananas more cheaply than any other country in Latin America. According to a Human Rights Watch report, bananas are produced in Ecuador "under appalling conditions." Children as young as eight were working twelve hours per day, earning $3.50/day, using sharp knives and machetes, carrying heavy loads of bananas, drinking unsanitary water, being sexually harassed and being exposed to toxic pesticides, including being sprayed from the air while working. Banana workers in Ecuador can be fired for union organizing without recourse, and so consequently less than 1% belong to unions.

More info:
http://www.hrw.org/news/2002/04/24/ecuador-widespread-labor-abuse-banana-plantations
http://www.elements.nb.ca/theme/food06/Henria/henria.htm
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At the same time, a group of people were gathering at the north entrance, and the numbers quickly grew, by 7am there were 25 and at peak 50-60, including cyclists going back and forth. Not bad for a monday morning in the rain! (People were coming and going, so there were probably hundreds of people overall involved.)

At 715-720am, when the north entrance was blocked, a huge line of workers trying to get in developed and they got stopped. Some of the shutdown people were passing out flyers and talking with the truck drivers and dock workers, and I think not all of the truck drivers are unionized, and there were some anti-union and anti-occupy comments, but the vast majority of the trick drivers coming in were being supportive, and several of them actuality said 'stand your ground'. They were told by the union that they had to come into work, and there was a lot of pressure on the workers that they had to show up that day. So that was pretty encouraging, we got some honks, we got some thumbs up and that went really well.

At about 745-8am, the cops - SDPD and port authority police and some DHS, formed a column and pushed us into one lane and said that if we went back we would get arrested. At about the same time, the south entrance had sent about ten folks to balance numbers, and they came in really spirited, with chants and they enlivened the crowd, they created enough chaos so we could retake the space and start circling the crowd again to block the entrance. That was really cool. They had allowed only four or five vehicles to go in when they pushed us back, but then we had the entrance blocked again for the remainder of the day.

I think because people were pouring in from the side and the cops were getting surrounded, they quickly backed up. I got the impression that those cops didn't really want to be there, and they didn't have strong authoritarian leadership at the north entrance. I don't know what kind of politics are being played amongst the cops, between the harbor police, SDPD and DHS.

People had some really good chants, like:
--When port workers get pushed around, what do we do? Stand up, Fight back!
--When truckers get exploited, what do we do? Stand up, Fight back!
--Who do you serve? Who do you protect?
--Solidarity Forever!

At the north entrance there were a group of people observing and taking pictures, a mixture maybe of workers taking a break after their shift, port authorities, other agencies and ILWU. And then it started raining really hard and they went away, and it was just the cops. So the idea that there would be a declaration of an unsafe work environment was maybe wishful thinking, perhaps because we didn't have the numbers and because of the rain.

I was kind of surprised because we were able to shut down for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, and the union made the port workers just turn off their engines and wait for a really long time. They never told them them go home. But it seems to me that a lot of the workers did end up going home. I think that those workers who were not big union supporters stuck it out and showed up to work. But i think there were a lot of power struggles going on. This thing came from way on high in the union that they needed to come out against us. At the same time amongst the workers, especially the politicized folks, there was support. But a lot of folks didn't feel they could come out publicly.

I think we were hoping that there would be a little more of an obvious message come out from the workers in support of this, but I think that a whole bunch didn't go to work was pretty powerful.

I think a lot of people got a lot of experience, and we need to do some jail support right now, there's people in jail, that would be really important to show some solidarity on that.

To jump from Occupy to Shutdown in such a short period time and it didn't not go really badly -- is a success! Hopefully we learned more than the cops learned.






Why post fotos to indybay?

author: 
anonymous

Why post fotos to indybay when we have an Indymedia here in San Diego?

Re: Why post fotos to indybay?

author: 
magon

yeah i feel the same way about this action. good job everyone. It seems like the movement that is evolving here is learning a lot real quick and moving in good directions. I wish the communication could be a little better for those who dont go to general assemblies every night. going out to GA's all the time is not realistic for large numbers of people but we should still have better ways of communicating and reflecting than what is being done on facebook. yay indymedia!

Re: Why post fotos to indybay?

author: 
Rey

So the blockades kept 99%'ers from working and making their wages that day, the people that need it most.....impressive.