Protesters hatch bold new plan: Shut down all west coast ports

By Business Insider
Monday, November 21, 2011 11:35 EDT
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Port of Los Angeles at night. Photo: Flickr user eblaser.
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By Robert Johnson and Linette Lopez

The Occupy Oakland General Assembly unanimously voted for a coordinated West Coast port shutdown to disrupt the “economic apparatus of the 1%.”

The Occupy Wall Street website calls for the “blockade and disruption of ports on the entire West Coast” of the United States.

With 19 deepwater ports on the Pacific Coast, that will prove a tall order, but if successful would seriously impede a huge portion of American commerce.

Looking at just three of the ports and what they mean to the US economy: The Port of Los Angeles handles 2,188 vessels annually, or about six-a-day, carrying 7.8 million containers a year, with a cargo valued at $236.4 billion in 2010.

The Port of Long Beach is the fifth busiest port in the US and handles 3.65 million containers a year with cargo worth $56.7 billion and supplies Southern California with 316,000 jobs.

The Port of Oakland handles more than 6,100 containers a day (2.24 million a year) brought in by 1,928 ships.

The Port of Los Angeles in the busiest port in the US, the Port of Long Beach is one of the busiest container ports in the world, and the Port of Oakland is the fifth busiest port in the US. Even a day of shutdowns will affect tens-of-thousands of workers and millions of dollars in cargo and revenue.

Longshoremen and warehouse workers in Longview, Washington were in the news recently when they shutdown ports in the Pacific Northwest and held security officers hostage, over contract disputes with EGT. And OWS mentions them specifically in their call to action.

Occupy Oakland expands this call to the entire West Coast, and calls for continuing solidarity with the Longshoremen in Longview Washington in their ongoing struggle against the EGT. The EGT is an international grain exporter led by Bunge LTD, a company constituted of 1% bankers whose practices have ruined the lives of the working class all over the world, from Argentina to the West Coast of the US. During the November 2nd General Strike, tens of thousands shutdown the Port Of Oakland as a warning shot to EGT to stop its attacks on Longview. Since the EGT has disregarded this message, and continues to attack the Longshoremen at Longview, we will now shut down ports along the entire West Coast.

OWS further says that if any action is taken against longshoremen as a result of the protest “additional actions should be prepared, and in the event of police response, shutdowns may extend “to multiple days.”

Occupy Los Angeles has also unanimously approved the movement and hastens to point out the SSA terminals at the Port of Los Angeles are owned by Goldman Sachs.

The International Longshoremen’s Association was not yet aware of the movement when we called Monday Nov. 21, but the director of public relations Jim McNamera said the action would be possible with a  legal picket line, but he would be calling other offices for more details.

Photo: Flickr user eblaser.


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