Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 11:49 AM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (15)
  • Print

Longshore union pulls out of national AFL-CIO

The West Coast longshore union is cutting its 25-year affiliation with the national AFL-CIO because groups affiliated with the umbrella organization have been crossing picket lines at Pacific Northwest grain terminals and trying to take jobs from dockworkers at other ports.

The Associated Press

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
Big loss for the AFL-CIO, but probably a wise move in the short term for the ILWU. This... MORE
Private sector unions don't really bother me since the private sector is competitive. ... MORE
It's okay that they want to strike and withhold their labor. But the docks aren't... MORE

advertising

PORTLAND, Ore. —

The West Coast longshore union is cutting its 25-year affiliation with the national AFL-CIO because groups affiliated with the umbrella organization have been crossing picket lines at Pacific Northwest grain terminals and trying to take jobs from dockworkers at other ports.

Robert McEllrath, president of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, explained the decision in a letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, a copy of which was obtained by The Oregonian newspaper ( http://is.gd/Y3kcoG).

Dockworkers at grain terminals in Portland and Vancouver, Wash., have been locked out of jobs for months, and McEllrath says affiliates have been "blatantly" crossing picket lines on a daily basis. He also cited offenses - he uses the word "attacks" - by other affiliates in Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma.

As an affiliate since 1988, the ILWU passed on a portion of its dues receipts to the AFL-CIO, a national federation of unions with more than 12 million members. McEllrath's letter, sent Thursday, notes that the ILWU has been independent and unaffiliated for most of its history.

"Today, the ILWU returns to that tradition," he wrote.

Besides exposing a rift in organized labor, the letter reveals the increasingly embattled status of the dockworkers' union as automation takes away jobs.

"We see this situation only getting worse as the ILWU is about to start West Coast longshore negotiations and face the challenge of the ports soon being run by robotics and computer-operated machinery over the next five to 10 years," McEllrath wrote. "The survival of the ILWU and the job security of our members depend on our having these remaining jobs, which will mostly involve the servicing and maintenance of the robotics and other machinery."

Moreover, McEllrath's letter states that the ILWU has become frustrated with the AFL-CIO's "overly compromising" policy positions on immigration, labor law reform, health care reform and international labor issues. "We feel the Federation has done a great disservice to the labor movement and all working people by going along to get along."

Tom Chamberlain, Oregon AFL-CIO president, said the ILWU's decision to leave is discouraging, but Trumka has a track record of mending fences and bringing groups back into the fold.

"Hopefully he can use some of that talent with the ILWU to find out what the true issues are and bring them back."

The departure comes a little more than a week before the AFL-CIO holds a national conference in Los Angeles, an event that occurs every four years.

---

Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Seattle Sketcher Book

Seattle Sketcher Book

Take home the Seattle Sketcher's latest book! Available now.

Advertising

Partner Video

Advertising


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►