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Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia.
~Kurt Vonnegut
Thursday, November 06, 2003

ILWU Local 23 Endorses Kucinich

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 23 in Tacoma, Wa., has endorsed by popular vote the candidacy of Dennis J. Kucinich for president. Representatives of Local 23 will present Kucinich with the formal endorsement this Saturday.

The presentation will take place in conjunction with a Labor Roundtable scheduled for 7:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. on Nov. 8 in Seattle. Congressman Kucinich is scheduled to participate in a forum with union members, to include representatives of the ILWU, the SEIU, and several other unions. Location: Seattle Airport Hilton Hotel, Spencer's Restaurant, 17620 Pacific Highway South, Seattle, WA 98188.

Vance Lelli, a member of ILWU, President of Pierce County Central Labor Council, and Vice President of Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, said:

"This is the first step toward having the ILWU international endorse Kucinich. His principles are right in line with those of the ILWU. He is the only candidate working for repeal of the Taft Hartley Act. We were locked out last year. The Taft Hartley Act handcuffs workers, and Dennis Kucinich is the only candidate from a major party to say so. We want to give Dennis a bigger voice.

"He's the only candidate who voted against the 'PATRIOT Act,' and the only one who has a 100 percent plan for health care, not a pieced together hope-to-get-to-98-percent plan for health care, but 100 percent! I've been a longshoreman since I was 16. I don't want to end up an unemployed longshoreman because of health care. Contract negotiations are all about health care. I want it off the table. I want everyone to have it.

"When you look at Dennis's positions, you see right away that he's our candidate. We opposed the war on Iraq. We're the people who load the war ships and we're speaking out against the war. Our movement for Dennis is truly from the rank and file. We're the only union that's beaten Bush. We were locked out. Everybody's doing recession bargaining, but we challenged and with the solidarity of the AFL-CIO, we won."

Earlier this year, the union emerged victorious in its battle with West Coast shipping companies, signing a contract locking in 7% pay increases, large pension hikes, and no-cost health-care. The contract signing followed a lockout last year and a 10-day shutdown of West Coast ports. The White House invoked the Taft-Hartley Act and mandated arbitration.

The ILWU has a long history of effective political action. In 1938, the ILWU refused to ship any more scrap metal to Japan, because it was being turned into bombs. In the 1980's the ILWU took a stand for imprisoned South Korean President and future Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kim Dae-Jung, refusing to load Korean goods until he was released. Kim Dae-Jung credits the ILWU with helping to save his life. In 1984 the ILWU refused to work on South African shipping to help end Apartheid; following his 1990 release, Nelson Mandela saluted the union in an Oakland, CA speech. In 1989 the ILWU refused to unload coffee from El Salvador to protest union-busting Salvadoran coffee plantations. In 1999, the ILWU refused to load ships unless student demonstrators against the WTO were freed by the police; they were freed.

"Some believe that international policy should be left to government," said Lelli. "The ILWU believes ordinary people should be involved."


Kucinich has also been endorsed by a long list of labor leaders:
posted by Cyndy | link | | |


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