"For me, the most important lesson
[of the Freedom Movement] is that by respecting the fact that fellow activists could passionately disagree over strategy and tactics—yet remain allies—they strengthened SNCC and the Movement as a whole."
From Bruce Hartford's article in the current issue of Urban Habitat.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Occupy West Coast Ports - December 12

The whole point of STRATEGIC direct action is to 
  1. dramatize the injustice to a larger audience 
  2. gain the sympathy of a larger audience to the point they want to join you and 
  3. provide a VARIETY of ways in which they can support you. 
For example, I am not willing to go out and get arrested, but I can give food and money. How do I do that? IS THE OCCUPY WALL STREET MOVEMENT  building an infrastructure to recruit people like make it obvious where I can contribute?

It is also crucial that activists understand the difference between organizing and mobilizing.  
READ BELOW AND DECIDE for yourself what is the degree to which the Occupy Ports succeeded in keeping the movement MOVING. and what needs to happen next...  MY EMPHASIS ADDED.

FROM   An Open Letter from America’s Port Truck Drivers on Occupy the Ports
We are the front-line workers who haul container rigs full of imported and exported goods to and from the docks and warehouses every day....We are inspired that a non-violent democratic movement that insists on basic economic fairness is capturing the hearts and minds of so many working people. Thank you “99 Percenters” for hearing our call for justice. We are humbled and overwhelmed by recent attention. Normally we are invisible.

Today’s demonstrations will impact us. While we cannot officially speak for every worker who shares our occupation, we can use this opportunity to reveal what it’s like to walk a day in our shoes for the 110,000 of us in America whose job it is to be a port truck driver. It may be tempting for media to ask questions about whether we support a shutdown, but there are no easy answers. Instead, we ask you, are you willing to listen and learn why a one-word response is impossible?....

It may be difficult to comprehend the complex issues and nature of our employment. For us too. When businesses disguise workers like us as contractors, the Department of Labor calls it misclassification. We call it illegal. Those who profit from global trade and goods movement are getting away with it because everyone is doing it. One journalist took the time to talk to us this week and she explains it very well to outsiders. We hope you will read the enclosed articleHow Goldman Sachs and Other Companies Exploit Port Truck Drivers.”....
But we believe in the power and potential behind a truly united 99%. We admire the strength and perseverance of the longshoremen. We are fighting like mad to overcome our exploitation, so please, stick by us long after December 12. Our friends in the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports created a pledge you can sign to support us here

...Long the most militant Occupy branch, Occupy Oakland has continued to push the movement’s campaign against the wealthiest 1 percent even after losing its perch in front of City Hall. It spearheaded a one-day action on Monday in which thousands of protesters rallied at West Coast ports from San Diego to Anchorage, effectively closing the Ports of Portland and Longview, Wash., and largely shutting the Port of Oakland. ...

Several labor leaders criticized the plan to disrupt the ports, which cost many longshoremen and truck drivers a day’s pay. And union officials were irked by Occupy Oakland’s claim that it was advancing the cause of port workers even though several unions opposed the protests. For example, several days before the disruptions, Robert McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, issued a statement warning: “Support is one thing. Organizing from outside groups attempting to co-opt our struggle in order to advance a broader agenda is quite another.” Organizers at Occupy Oakland shrugged off the criticism, saying many union leaders are afraid of bold action. The Occupy movement, they say, is doing more for working people than some unions and union leaders are. ...

The Oakland protesters also made regular visits to the longshore union’s hiring hall in San Francisco to gather support from rank-and-file workers. They printed 50,000 fliers about the protest and went to the Oakland port, one of the nation’s busiest, to distribute them and talk to nonunion truck drivers.  ...

But the Occupy planners also knew that they had chosen a target that was symbolic of multinational corporations, including the investment bank Goldman Sachs, which owns a major interest in a company that operates many port terminals. They also figured that disrupting ports was relatively easy and likely to bring them lots of attention. ...

While praising the Occupy movement’s goal of helping the 99 percent, Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association, faulted the protesters’ tactics, saying, “I don’t know how you call a strike without involving the union or the workers.” But the Occupy activists said unions were too timid about pushing the interests of workers. 

“The 1 percent has been able to write and pass labor laws that are designed to restrict the amount of action that can legally be taken by a union. Most union officials today refuse to challenge those laws,” Occupy organizers wrote on a Web site explaining the port shutdown. “It is the responsibility of rank-and-file workers and their allies to escalate the labor struggle. Occupy can spearhead this movement.” 

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