Saturday, 29 February 2020

WHO Raises Coronavirus Threat Level to ‘Very High’

Workers wearing face masks rope a container ship at a port in Qingdao, Shandong province, China February 11, 2020. Picture taken February 11, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS
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By Stephanie Nebehay and Ryan Woo GENEVA/BEIJING, Feb 28 (Reuters) – The rapid spread of the coronavirus increased fears of a pandemic on Friday, with six countries reporting their first cases and the World Health Organization (WHO) raising its global spread and impact risk alert to “very high.”
World shares fell again, winding up their worst week since the 2008 global financial crisis and bringing the global wipeout to $6 trillion.
Hopes that the epidemic that started in China late last year would be over in months, and that economic activity would quickly return to normal, have been shattered.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said his organization was not underestimating the risk.
“That is why we said today the global risk is very high,” he told reporters in Geneva. “We increased it from ‘high’ to ‘very high’.”
WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said the scenario of the coronavirus reaching multiple or all countries “is something we have been looking at and warning against since quite a while.”
Switzerland joined countries banning big events to try to curb the epidemic, forcing cancellation of next week’s Geneva international car show, one of the industry’s most important gatherings.
Tedros said mainland China had reported 329 new cases in the last 24 hours, the lowest there in more than a month, taking its tally to more than 78,800 cases with almost 2,800 deaths.
China’s three biggest airlines restored some international flights and the Shanghai fashion show, initially postponed, went ahead online.
But as the outbreak eases in China, it is surging elsewhere.
Mexico, Nigeria, Estonia, Denmark, the Netherlands and Lithuania reported their first cases, all with travel history connected to Italy, the worst-affected European country. Mexico is the second Latin American country to register the virus, after Brazil.
Countries other than China now account for about three-quarters of new infections.
Bulgaria said it was ready to deploy up to 1,000 troops and military equipment to the border with Turkey to prevent illegal migrant inflows as it steps up measures against the coronavirus. It has not reported any cases.
Mongolia, which has yet to confirm a case, placed its president, Battulga Khaltmaa, in quarantine as a precaution after he returned from a trip to China, state media reported.
A Chinese official said some recovered patients had been found to be infectious, suggesting the epidemic may be even harder to eradicate than previously thought.
Lindmeier said the WHO was looking very carefully into reports of some people getting re-infected.
In addition to stockpiling medical supplies, some governments ordered schools shut and canceled big gatherings to try to halt the flu-like disease.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration was considering invoking special powers to expand production of protective gear.
In Europe, Germany warned of an impending epidemic and Greece, a gateway for refugees from the Middle East, announced tighter border controls.
The death toll in Italy rose to 17 and those testing positive rose to 655. Germany has nearly 60 cases, France about 38 and Spain 23, according to a Reuters count.
South Korea has the most cases outside China. It reported 571 new infections on Friday, bringing the total to 2,337, with 13 people killed.
The head of the WHO’s emergency program, Dr Mike Ryan, said Iran’s outbreak may be worse than realized – its toll of 34 dead is the highest outside China. Tedros said he expected a WHO team to be in Iran by Sunday or Monday.
U.S. intelligence agencies are monitoring the spread of the coronavirus in Iran and India, where only a handful of cases have been reported, sources said.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States had offered to help Iran, raising doubts about its willingness to share information.
Japan is scheduled to host the 2020 Olympics in July but Ryan said discussions were being held about whether to go ahead.
Organizers will decide next week on the ceremonial torch relay, due to arrive on March 20 for a 121-day journey. Confirmed cases in Japan have risen above 200, with four deaths, excluding more than 700 cases on a quarantined cruise liner, Diamond Princess.
A British man infected on the ship had died, bringing the death toll among passengers to six, Kyodo newswire reported.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had called for schools to close and vowed to prevent a severe blow to an economy teetering on the brink of recession.
In Moscow, authorities were deporting 88 foreigners who violated quarantine measures, the RIA news agency cited Moscow’s deputy mayor as saying.
Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, where the coronavirus has killed two and infected more than 90, quarantined a pet dog of a coronavirus patient after it tested “weak positive,” though authorities had no evidence the virus can be transmitted to pets. [Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open in an external browser.]
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Ryan Woo, Yingzhi Yang in Beijing, Lisa Lambert and Mark Hosenball in Washington, Sangmi Chai in Seoul, Leika Kihara in Tokyo, Kate Kelland in London, Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia, Michael Shields and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi in Zurich, Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City; Writing by Robert Birsel, Giles Elgood and Nick Macfie; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Jon Boyle and Timothy Heritage)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

Not my opinion !!! copied off a friends page

Bit of a long read, but puts this corona virus into perspective ! 
Numbers don’t lie.
So, here it goes:
80,000 People are Sick with Coronavirus at the Moment
of which 77,000 are in China.
This means that if you are not from China than this should remove 96% of your worry.
If you contract Coronavirus, this still is not a cause for alarm, because:
81% of the Cases are MILD
14% of the Cases are MODERATE
and only 5% of the Cases are CRITICAL
This means that if you do get the virus, you are most likely to recover from it.
Some say, “imma this is worse than SARS! The world is ending!” – THIS.IS.A.LIE.
SARS had a fatality rate of 10% while COVID-19 has a fatality rate of 2%!
Moreover, looking at the ages of those who are dying of this virus, the death rate for the people UNDER 50 years of age is only 0.2%!
This means that the majority of people actually recover!
This means that if you are under 50 years of age, and not living in China, you are more likely to win the lottery which is a 1 in 45,000,000 chance!
NOW, Let’s take one of the worst days so far – the 10th of February. Whilst we were enjoying our Public Holiday, 108 persons in CHINA died of Coronavirus.
BUT, on the same day
26,283 people died of Cancer
24,641 people died of Heart Disease
4,300 people died of Diabetes
and on that day, Suicide, unfortunately, took more lives than the virus did, by 28 times.
Moreover, Mosquitoes kill 2,740 people every day, HUMANS kill 1,300 fellow humans every day and Snakes kill 137 people every day.

One more coronavirus fear victim? Grimaldi’s ro-ro stuck off Casablanca for 2 days, why? UPDATE

Feb 29: Berthed late Feb 28, 2-day delay goes unexplained.
GRIMALDI’s ro-ro ship GRANDE TOGO arrived at Casablanca Anchorage, Morocco, late Feb 26, with ETA Casablanca Feb 27, from Genoa Italy. The ship didn’t anchor, she was turned back and since that time until now, 1700 UTC Feb 28, is cruising in legs off Casablanca and Casablanca Anchorage. Ro-ro piers seem to be empty, with no berthed ro-ro or car carriers. What’s up? Coronavirus fear is most likely answer. If she’s waiting for something, some cargo or whatever, why didn’t she anchor and is cruising around, burning expensive fuel and wearing mechanisms? With Italy being a Hot Zone now, GRANDE TOGO was put under some kind of Flying Dutch quarantine?

Container ship MSC LAUSANNE, meanwhile, is still at anchor at Haifa anchorage, still an outcast, it seems.

Coronavirus is becoming a real threat, not a disease though, but worldwide governmental attempts to prevent pandemic. With such preventive measures, we’d soon find ourselves in Dark Ages, with no energy, food and other vitally important supplies, and ruined infrastructure. And if China and Japan are of any lesson, the best way to get infected and fall sick is to be caught in quarantine. Italy, with all that, keeps allowing in its’ ports NGOs traffickers ships with hundreds of migrants on board.

Ro-ro cargo ship GRANDE TOGO, IMO 9465370, GT 26650, built 2011, flag Italy, manager GRIMALDI GROUP.

Port of Rostock Liebherr Cranes Salvage to Start

The “Hafen- und Seemannsamt” (Harbour and Seamans Office) in Rostock has announced today that the ‘Hebo Lift 9’ is being mobilised in Rotterdam to lift the two Liebherr harbour cranes that have been submerged in Rostock harbour since the incident during cargo operations on the Jumbo Vision earlier this month.
The ‘Hebo Lift 9’ is a large shearlegs crane with a lift of 800t to a height of 67m. The crane is due to leave Rotterdam for Rostock tomorrow, Wednesday 19 February. The voyage is due to take 5 days.
The 200t lift ‘Baltic Lift’ floating crane from Baltic Taucherei has been on site since the incident occurred and will be used to carry out preparatory work on the two lattice masts, 50m long and weighing 35t, permitting the salvage operation to start immediately the ‘Hebo Lift 9’ arrives.
It is planned that the salvage operation will be completed by the end of February.

Featured Title photograph

Hebo Lift 9 courtesy of Hebo Maritimeservice
Source Rostock Hafen- und Seemannsamt

New Liebherr cranes fall off Jumbo ship while loading in Rostock

Part of Rostock Port has been closed after two mobile harbour cranes fell off the heavy-lift vessel Jumbo Vision during loading operations. Because there are fluids leaking from the cranes, port basin B has been temporarily closed and secured with oil barriers to prevent further pollution.
The incident occurred on Friday, January 31st around 21.00 while Dutch shipping company Jumbo Maritime was loading mobile harbour cranes at Liebherr’s manufacturing facility in the port. Eyewitnesses told local media that one of the harbour cranes on deck was tipped over by one of the shipboard cranes of the 6993 dwt heavy-lift vessel. This caused the vessel to list after which the second crane on deck lost stability as well.
In a comment to Project Cargo Journal, a sister publication of SWZ|Maritime, a spokesperson of Jumbo Maritime says the cause for the accident is still under investigation. ‘During loading, the cranes rolled off the deck, subsequently into the water due to reasons yet unknown and currently under investigation.’


According to a dock worker, quoted by German media, the loading operation of the two cranes had in fact already been completed when the accident occurred. One of the ship’s cranes probably hit one of the two Liebherr cranes (type LHM 550) when turning back to its starting position, causing it to fall overboard.
A spokesman for the shipping company told Nieuwsblad Transport that this portrayal is ‘probably not quite correct’, but confirms that first the front and then the rear Liebherr crane went overboard.
Two workers sustained minor injuries and were treated by paramedics on site, the shipping company confirms. According to Nieuwsblad Transport, the ship itself has also been damaged and cannot leave for the time being.


The Rostock port authority took swift action by laying out oil barriers. Specialists from Baltic divers were called in to skim a ‘relatively small amount of leaked pollutants’ from the port’s waters. The port authority and water police estimate that around 100 litres of oil have leaked from the crane, the majority of which could be sucked off by the oil-defence vessel Flunder.
During a dive, the exact location of the cranes was explored and the ventilation ports on the hydraulic oil and diesel tanks were sealed to prevent further pollution. In total, the cranes carry around 7600 litres of hydraulic oil and 3000 litres of diesel fuel.


Salvage preparations are in full swing. The oil tanks of the cranes will soon be emptied. Meanwhile, a survey vessel has made 3D-scans of the area to document the damage to the cranes, reportedly worth about 3.5 million euros each, and identify reliable lifting points to remove the cranes from the port basin which is about eleven metres deep. The cranes reportedly weigh about 440 tonnes each.
In the coming days, all necessary measures will be summarised and coordinated in a detailed salvage concept, Rostock Port states. ‘As the port operator we are working in close cooperation with the authorities to find a solution for the early resumption of port operations in port basin B,’ says the port’s managing director Gernot Tesch.
Liebherr was not available to comment on the incident.
This article first appeared on Project Cargo Journal, and was re-published here with additions from Nieuwsblad Transport, both sister publications of SWZ|Maritime.

'Elephant racing' lorries on A14 cause huge frustration

Andrew Papworth thinks lorries overtaking on the A14 should be banned Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

With its regular logjams and accidents, driving on the A14 can be frustrating at the best of times.

Yet there is one simple thing which, in my view, could help to make life on Suffolk's biggest road both safer and less stressful - putting a roadblock on overtaking lorries. 
I'm sure I don't need to remind regular drivers along the key commuter route just how frustrating this annoying driving habit of heavy good vehicle drivers can be. 
You're pulling out into the fast lane to overtake a couple of slower moving lorries. Yet, just as you do, the lorry behind switches on its indicator and moves into the fast lane in an instant, forcing you (sometimes sharply) to apply the brakes. 
You then sit for a good couple of minutes while the lorry directly in front of you struggles for acceleration, seemingly unable to huff and puff its way past the fellow HGV it is trying to pass. 
Eventually, after what seems like an eternity, it makes it - at which point a queue of cars formed behind rushes past, each irritated at the delay but knowing they'll face exactly the same scenario just a few miles down the road. 
I heard it recently referred to as "elephant racing" - and that's exactly what it's like, two great lumbering objects fighting for what feels like the winner of the slowest race on earth. 
What's even more frustrating is when one lorry, behind two slower moving ones, tries to overtake both in one go. And when the one at the back then tries its own overtake - well, don't get me started. 
What makes it even more frustrating is that the gain for the lorries involved seems minimal, at best. 
If their slow overtakes are anything to go by, they can only be going a couple of miles an hour faster - yet cause traffic jams behind them, just so they can gain a few minutes at most on their journeys. 
You might think I'm just someone being inpatient who's not prepared to wait a few minutes myself. Who knows, maybe you'd be right. 
But my biggest concern is safety. 
While I'm sure a lot of lorry drivers take safety with the utmost seriousness, many of the overtakes I've seen have been dangerous at best and potentially lethal at worst. 
Sometimes, no matter how close you or how fast you're approaching, the lorries just seem to pull out anyway and expect you back off. 
I guess the biggest vehicle wins the day, but a lot of time you're put into a situation where you're given the choice of braking or crashing. 
The Highway Code already bans any vehicle towing a trailer or vehicles above 7.5tonnes from using the right-hand on motorways. 
This should apply on the A14 as well, which may not be a motorway but is as busy as one.
Posted by Luke Smout Felixstowe

Gerda Maersk arrives to the Port of Felixstowe Port swing for Trinity Terminal. 27th February 2020

Container ship MSC LAUSANNE coronavirus fears victim. UPDATE.

Feb 26: Container ship is probably, having problem with her next port of call on schedule, Ashdod, Israel. One of ship’s crew was recently in South Korea and 14 or 27 day incubation period didn’t yet expire. It was enough for Ashdod Port Authority to reportedly, deny or postpone ship’s docking in port. The crew including seaman in question are healthy in all respects, the the ship already traveled half of Europe with no problems whatsoever, but it doesn’t convince Ashdod officials. Trading companies already sent letters and requests to Israel industry association, asking association to assist, and allow the ship to dock in port. A lot of goods they expect and count on, may finish up in limbo. Final decision is to be made by Ministry of Health.

The ship undocked Lymassol Cyprus, early in the morning Feb 26, her next port of call being Ashdod, ETA Feb 26. She anchored at Lymassol anchorage, and as of 0500 UTC Feb 26, remained at anchor.

Feb 27 UPDATE: As of 0800 UTC Feb 27, the ship remained anchored at Lymassol anchorage, apparently waiting for Israeli authorities decision either to allow her to dock at Ashdod and offload containers destined for Israel, or conditions she will have to comply with in order to be cleared, or whatever. It’s insanity. Preventing coronavirus is becoming more harmful and dangerous, considering lockdowns consequences, than coronavirus.

Container ship MSC LAUSANNE,IMO 9320398, dwt 79403, capacity 6336 TEU, built 2005, flag Malta.

Hi! My name is Stepan Kotcherga, I’m Merchant Marine Navigation Officer, now a Second Officer working on dry cargo ships. My home is in Ukraine. I’m contributing maritime news and inside info.

Maritime and Crimean Shipping News

Friday, 28 February 2020

Haulage boss's anger at freight firm closure

Go Freight liveried vehicles in a yard near its headquarters in The Havens, Ipswich Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

A haulage operator is up in arms at the shock closure of an Ipswich freight firm, claiming he had to cut back on staffing and vehicles as a result.

Go Freight liveried vehicles in a yard near its headquarters in The Havens, Ipswich  Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS
Creditor Richard Bryant of Quickfreight, Felixstowe, said his firm was a sub-contractor to Go Freight at Ransomes Europark. Its sudden shutdown early in February had left his business out of pocket to the tune of £62k for work as yet unpaid, he claimed.
As a result, he has cut his fleet from 25 to 18, and dropped from 18 drivers to 10. He owns some trucks but also leases others. He employs 10 drivers, but takes on agency staff to complement the workforce, so he has slashed his agency workforce and leased vehicles.
"I'm downsizing. I have just got to trade out of it, and we have lost all our profit. Everybody here works hard, works long hours, and obviously there'll be no pay rises - there'll be nothing," he said.
Lorry driver Pete Bland, who worked for Go Freight  Picture: SANTANA ROUSE
Creditors and what's thought to be dozens of lorry drivers working for Go Freight learnt on Tuesday, February 11, that it had shut down. Prior to that, Go Freight had delivered container loads from the Port of Felixstowe to destinations all over the country.
Insolvency firm LB Insolvency wrote to employees and business creditors on February 13 to inform them that it has been instructed to assist the directors in placing the company into creditors' voluntary liquidation, and that workers' contracts were terminated.
Mr Bryant said his firm's services were being used right up until days before, and he had no idea what was coming. Although the shutdown was a big blow to his business, he took measures immediately to ensure he remained on a firm financial footing, he explained.
"I was shocked," he said. "My jaw hit the floor."
He described seeing "obviously not very happy" truck drivers arriving at the Go Freight offices at Basepoint, The Havens, after the news broke that they had lost their jobs as a result of the firm's closure. He had turned up himself to find out what was going on.
"Literally the day it happened I got a phone call from a guy I knew in Dubai who said 'have you heard about Go Freight?'" he said. "Everyone is just quite angry at how it happened."
The haulage boss, who says he also operates warehousing and recruitment businesses, said he was pessimistic of his chances of recovering what's owed to him. "I have got no hope," he said. "They have left us in a mess."
Lorry driver Pete Bland, of Hadleigh, who worked for Go Freight from August last year until its closure in February, said he was a "bit shocked" when it happened.
He estimated he was owed about £1k, and was critical of what he felt was a lack of communication once the decision was taken to close the business.
The directors of Go Freight have been approached for a comment, but previously had no comment to make. LB Insolvency has also been approached. A spokewoman previously said: "We have only recently been instructed, and are unable to give out confidential information at this stage of the process."

The Survival of the ILWU at Stake! by JACK HEYMAN

This is a logo owned by International Longshore and Warehouse Union for International Longshore and Warehouse Union – Fair Source

Coastwide Port Action Can Stop Union Busting! 
Labor Solidarity Must Prevail
A recent federal court decision in Portland, Oregon poses an immediate existential threat to the strongest union in the U.S. today, the ILWU, and ultimately to the labor movement as a whole. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), arguably one of the most militant unions in the U.S., has been hit with a union-busting $93.6 million dollar court-imposed fine for a secondary boycott deemed illegal under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. The plaintiff, International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) is owned by the third richest man in the Philippines, billionaire Enrique Razon Jr. and operates in 27 ports worldwide, mainly in poor, developing countries.
The maritime company claims it was run out of business in Portland because of a secondary boycott by the longshore union during a long-running dispute over two mechanics jobs which are presently done by another union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). ICTSI argues the primary employer is the Port of Portland which hires the mechanics, so they claim the longshore union organized an “illegal” secondary boycott. For the ILWU’s part, it was a foolish top down campaign organized by the dubious Leal Sundet, then, an ILWU Coast Committeeman who had previously been an Oregon area executive for the employers group, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).
On February 14 in Portland, this capital vs labor battle may be decided by a federal court judge. The response of the ILWU to the union-busting verdict should be to take the struggle out of the courts and onto the docks where our strength lies, as it did so many times in the past. Otherwise the union leadership is agreeing to let this battle between labor and capital be decided by a capitalist judge. Some members don’t want to declare bankruptcy but that would mean an exorbitant assessment of all longshore workers. Others want to re-join the AFL-CIO but that doesn’t necessarily mean real support for the ILWU. The main obstacle is that the leadership is offering no kind of active labor defense, only a deadly silence in the media.
Known as the slave labor act by the organized labor movement, the Taft-Hartley Act bans solidarity actions or secondary boycotts as the government’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) refers to an action not directed against the primary employer. But it was solidarity actions that built the labor movement during the Great Depression and it was solidarity actions that won and sustained ILWU’s victories that are recognized internationally.
*In 1984, during the repressive Reagan years San Francisco longshore workers boycotted a ship from South Africa for 11 days to protest apartheid. After Nelson Mandela was freed from prison he addressed a packed Oakland Coliseum on his 1990 world tour. He praised ILWU Local 10’s action for sparking the anti-apartheid movement in the Bay Area.

*In 1997, longshoremen refused to work the Neptune Jade, a ship from England, in solidarity with locked out Liverpool dockers. The action, with the backing of ILWU President Brian McWilliams, sparked a boycott in three consecutive ports across the seas that displayed a union power that frightened maritime employers.
*That international solidarity action was followed with a campaign to defend the predominantly black longshore union, ILA Local 1422, against union busting in Charleston, South Carolina. That campaign, initiated by the ILWU and Local 1422, became a cause celebre of the entire AFL-CIO, peaking with a march of several thousand trade unionists protesting at the state capitol which was flying the Confederate flag.
*In 1999, President McWilliams addressed a rally of thousands in Seattle announcing that the
ILWU shutdown West Coast ports in solidarity with anti-WTO demonstrators including Teamsters and other unions and in protest against police brutality.
*That same year ILWU led a march of 25,000 through the streets of San Francisco, supported by the San Francisco Labor Council, to demand freedom for innocent political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. His death sentence was rescinded but he still remains imprisoned after 38 years.
*In 2008, ILWU shut down all West Coast Ports to protest the “imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” despite vicious PMA threats to sue the union under Taft-Hartley in the NLRB.
*In 2010, Local 10 shut down Bay Area ports to protest the BART police killing of Oscar Grant and has continued protest actions against racist police and fascist terror.
*In 2010 and 2014, Local 10 members refused to work ZIM Lines ships to protest the Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and on a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid. These actions drove ZIM ships out of the port of Oakland much to the dismay of the Zionist government.
*And in 2011, When Wisconsin workers were under attack by Governor Scott Walker and had occupied the state capitol building, AFL-CIO President Trumka and ILWU President McEllrath sent out calls for solidarity with the state workers. ILWU Local 10 answered that call with job action, shutting down all Bay Area ports in a solidarity strike action.All these actions were in violation of Taft-Hartley’s secondary boycott provision.
ILWU’s history shows that labor’s strength lies in union solidarity actions not in kangaroo courts.
Yet, this new ILWU leadership has limited the fight against Taft-Hartley to the courtroom. ILWU’s International President William Adams states in the November 2019 issue of The Dispatcher, the union’s newspaper, “While we respect the process, we disagree with the excessive damages award”. Respecting the anti-labor Taft-Hartley process means an unprecedented course of navigation for the union into treacherous waters with a broken sextant. This strategy rejects ILWU’s history of challenging Taft-Hartley from the very start. Adams, who has never played a leading role in solidarity job actions, claims ILWU may declare bankruptcy but will survive. Veteran activists know that accepting such an onerous fine will not only bankrupt the union but chill solidarity actions, stifling the future of ILWU’s proud legacy. Adam’s demagogic calls for “unity” behind this defeatist strategy will land the union’s ship on the rocks. The ILWU must appeal, publicize its case broadly and initiate labor solidarity actions.
ILWU’s Historic Role in Fighting Taft-Hartley and Building Labor Solidarity
West Coast maritime workers have long been in the forefront of U.S. labor struggles. In San Francisco in 1934 longshore workers and sailors led a mighty maritime strike in the midst of the Great Depression. A general strike in San Francisco was provoked when police killed two strikers. Today, in front of the Local 10 union hall a “Bloody Thursday” sidewalk mural of the fallen martyrs defiantly proclaims,”Men Killed, Shot in the Back, Police Murder.” The news media railed against communists, socialists and anarchists during the General Strike but to no avail. San Francisco was shut down tight with solid support from the Bay Area’s working class. Despite the conservative San Francisco Labor Council bureaucrats ordering all workers to return to work after a few days, maritime workers refused and returned to the picket lines with a new resolve and in the end won their key demands, including the hiring hall, union recognition, a coastwise contract, a six-hour shift and safe working conditions. That radical image stands the test to time and is instrumental in ILWU’s recent organizing drives at Anchor Steam brewery and Tartine Bakery in San Francisco.
In 1947, the Taft-Hartley Act,(on which ICTSI owner Razon hangs his litigious hat) was passed with support from both Democratic and Republican parties at the beginning of the McCarthy witch hunts. It banned all manner of class struggle: solidarity strikes, mass picketing, closed shops, including union hiring halls, and communists from holding union office. ILWU was one of the first unions to challenge the law and became a haven for workers purged from the CIO and the AFL by anti-red union leaders. These workers led struggles in the ’30’s that built the unions: Blackie Meyers (NMU), Bill Bailey (MFOW), Shaun Maloney (SUP and the Teamsters), Morris Wright (MMSW) and Jim Herman (MCS). As West Coast maritime unions began negotiations in 1948, ILWU members at the recommendation of its Coastwide Longshore Caucus voted 89% to authorize a strike. However, in 2002 after the 9/11 attack and the subsequent government anti-terror campaign, the Longshore Caucus stopped that standard practice of backing the Negotiating Committee with a strike authorization vote, an early sign of union’s departure from its militant past.

Phil Drew cartoon from The Dispatcher, 1948.
When President Truman invoked Taft-Hartley, longshoremen responded with class struggle, a work slowdown. (What McEllrath/Sundet did in 2013 at ICTSI’s terminal in Portland was in the service of class collaboration.) After the 80-day cooling off period, Truman’s National Labor Relations Board tried to bypass the union leadership by ordering longshoremen to vote on the employers’ proposed contract. The two outstanding issues were both banned by Taft-Hartley: the union hiring hall and a union leadership that employer propaganda accused of being “dominated by the Communist Party.” Of the 26,695 members on the entire West Coast not a single ballot was cast in the NLRB vote. Later, another vote was taken on the employers’
proposals but was rejected by 96.8% and a second vote on forcing union officers to sign a non-communist affidavit was again rejected by 94.39% of the membership. Then, the ILWU went on strike. European dockworker unions expressed solidarity sending telegrams to President Truman warning that any ships loaded by the military would not be unloaded in Europe. That’s the way working class struggles are won!
During the repressive McCarthy period ILWU President Harry Bridges was jailed and threatened with deportation. Other ILWU officials including Jack Hall and Bob McElrath of the “Hawaii 7” were accused of being communists and jailed under the Smith Act. (Robert McElrath, husband of the late ILWU firebrand Ah Quon McElrath, was no relation to “Big Bob” McEllrath.) ILWU Hawaiian plantation workers struck to demand their leader Jack Hall’s freedom. He was released from jail the next day. The Communist Party (CP) had applauded the jailing under the the very same anti-communist Smith Act in 1941 of their Trotskyist opponents in the Socialist Workers Party, including leaders of the militant Minneapolis Teamsters strike of 1934. That political transgression only emboldened the government to use the Smith Act against the leadership of the CP seven years later.
In 1964, ILWU Local 10 Executive Board member Archie Brown, an open member of the Communist Party, was indicted for violating a key provision of Taft-Hartley. He was tried, convicted and arrested. Brown, with backing from the union, appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won. The communist-exclusion clause was ruled invalid, although AFL-CIO tops still try to use it to keep reds out of office, but the law as a whole still stands.
The West Coast longshore union was forged in the cauldron of class struggle in the ’30’s. Victory was achieved by mass picketing, appeals for solidarity and racially integrating the union. That was 30 years before the Civil Rights Act was passed. The ILWU went on its own fight for reforms— building affordable housing for working people in St. Francis Square and negotiating with Kaiser to establish one of the first comprehensive medical plans for its members on the West Coast and Hawaii. These stories,  portrayed in murals all over the Bay Area by WPA muralists, Victor Arnautoff and Anton Refregier, were targeted for destruction by right wing nuts during the McCarthy period because the muralists were members of the Communist Party. Today, the SF School Board and Democratic Party identity politics individuals want to cover up or destroy Arnautoff’s murals at George Washington High School. The ILWU defended those murals then as it does today.  ILWU now has a majority African American, Latino, Asian and Hawaiian membership that has continued its militant history of defending immigrant workers’ rights, organizing protest actions against racist police and fascist terror and in solidarity with workers struggles internationally. All this is threatened by the verdict against the ILWU.
Razon’s Rogue Business Gambit
Razon’s modus operandi for ICTSI is raw, aggressive neo-liberal capitalism, buying up public-owned ports in developing countries, busting unions, suing competitors or government agencies and making billions in the process. Razon, like the rest of the Philippine elite, keeps close ties with the military, which is noted for its relentless repression of labor, left populist protests and the Muslim rebellion in the south. Last year, he was awarded alumnus status by the Philippine Military Academy. The pugnacious image which Razon likes to cultivate fits well into his latest venture to build luxurious super casino resorts in the Philippines to compete with Macau.
Razon, like many in the ruling class of the Philippines, are descendants of the Spanish colonists, who have waged a vicious campaign against working people whether at home or abroad. Many Filipinos work as seamen aboard foreign-owned ships. Labor contractors and shipowners exploit these crews by paying slave wages and often not remitting allotments from wages to their families back home dependent on them for survival. The ILWU has fought to defend these workers. In 1980, while Reagan was firing PATCO strikers, Philippine dictator Marcos’ agents killed two ILWU officials Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes in the Seattle Local 37 union office. Marcos was successfully sued by the families for that crime.
In Honduras in 2013, Victor Crespo, General Secretary of the Sindicato Gremial de Trabajadores del Muelle (SGTM), received threats on his life for organizing dock workers shortly after Razon’s ICTSI was granted a lucrative 30-year contract to operate in Puerto Cortez, Honduras. Crespo fled the country but the following year his father was murdered outside the family home.
Where the ILWU Went Wrong: Putting the ICTSI Dispute in Context
This battle between ICTSI and the ILWU began in 2012, shortly after a year-long lockout by the international grain conglomerate Export Grain Terminal (EGT) in Longview, Washington downriver from Portland. Longshore members did everything in their power to win that conflict— blocking grain trains on the tracks, and when they were slapped with injunctions their wives and daughters stood fast on the tracks. They occupied the EGT facility, defended themselves against violent police attacks and went to jail for picketing. When ILWU President McEllrath was called to the front of a protest on the railroad tracks by members he was arrested. All Northwest ports shutdown and marched on Longview the following day. That’s the power the union wields.
Yet, the moment of truth came February 2012, as a scab grain ship was escorted by an armed Coast Guard cutter dispatched by President Obama. State and local police forces were mustered. Faced with an all out fight on the docks with mass support to be mobilized in caravans committed by labor councils in Longview, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco and the burgeoning Occupy movement, the ILWU International President Bob McEllrath and Coast Committeeman Leal Sundet, fearful of a serious class battle, capitulated and forced local officials to sign the contract. Longview union members were incensed by this betrayal. They were not even given the right to vote on the contract which violates the ILWU Constitution but not capitalist law. The ILWU was able to maintain jurisdiction, but the loss in working and safety conditions was devastating. The union tops had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Dan Coffman, Longview Local 21 President, and Byron Jacobs, Secretary-Treasurer, tried to call for a Longshore Caucus, an elected body representing all ports, at the start of the EGT struggle to build solidarity actions on the Coast. International Officers blocked that effort, stopped Local 10 from implementing solidarity actions and kept the locked out workers isolated from the major ports in California. Moreover, union members like Longview Local 21’s Byron Jacobs and others were arrested for picketing and left in jail for weeks without bail or union defense. Tragically Byron died 2 years ago while working on the Longview docks because of unsafe working conditions. Many were inspired by Byron’s brave class struggle actions during that hard-fought battle.
Veterans of historic ILWU actions in defiance of Taft-Hartley against solidarity actions opposed the EGT contract in a signed leaflet, Danger! ILWU Headed in Wrong Direction! EGT-Longview Contract -Worst Ever! June 12, 2012 because it undermined basic union principles, gains and for the first time codified Taft-Hartley into a longshore contract. Apparently, this ILWU leadership has learned nothing from the union’s long and storied history. Signers of the leaflet included Local 10 members Leo Robinson, Howard  Keylor and Larry Wright who led the 1984 anti-apartheid strike and Herb Mills who organized protests against the 1960 HUAC hearings at San Francisco City Hall and the 1978 refusal of longshoremen to load bombs for Pinochet’s military dictatorship in Chile; Jack Mulcahy, longtime Local 8 activist who participated in the militant actions of the Northwest longshore grain workers and Jack Heyman, Local 10 who initiated the 2008 May Day West Coast ports shutdown against the imperialist wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a union action stridently fought for and won against by PMA’s obstinate opposition with dire threats of suing the union over Taft-Hartley. All of these labor actions were initiated and organized from the bottom up not the top down.
ICTSI Campaign Was Top Down and Wrong—Union Solidarity Actions Are Bottom Up
Shortly after the EGT debacle was over, Sundet directed the “job trusting” campaign, actually union raiding, in Portland to get the two electrician jobs at ICTSI. Sundet, in an act of class collaboration, even got PMA to join the lawsuit jointly with the ILWU against ICTSI but the employers bailed out later. The “slowdown” claimed by ICTSI only reduced container handling by 5-7 cans an hour. ICTSI said ILWU was gimmicking safety issues. The truth is union members were being fined by Local 8 officials for raising safety beefs, shamefully doing diligent work for the employer. To top it off the judge wouldn’t allow this scandalous discipline by union bureaucrats to be introduced in court! Many members were frustrated by Sundet’s long-running top down job action. In any case the capitalist courts shouldn’t determine union jurisdiction. A job trust is an employer-worker monopolistic scheme for the benefit of the employer and labor aristocrats. An all port workers council should have been organized with longshoremen, electricians, mechanics, port truckers and other port workers to make the Portland waterfront 100% union and democratically decide jurisdictional disputes amongst the workers excluding the employers. Real class unity can challenge the employing class and even stop the fascist attacks in the Portland/Vancouver area.
At the start of the EGT campaign Sundet directed longshore workers to cross picket lines of AFL-CIO construction unions who were picketing the use of non-union labor to build the new EGT facility. Sundet’s scabrous action made it difficult later to get unions to honor ILWU picket lines and to get resolutions passed at the Oregon and Washington state AFL-CIO organizations. A couple years later during master longshore contract negotiations ILWU International Officers extended the expired agreement in order to help employers in Los Angeles quash a picket line of port truckers, mainly immigrant workers. That scam allowed the PMA arbitrator to rule it was an “illegal” action. Union officials then directed longshoremen to cross the truckers’ picket line breaking the action. It was these kinds of traitorous acts that earned ILWU President McEllrath and PMA President McKenna a joint Connie Award from the maritime capitalists.
Worse still, ILWU officials have continued to direct longshore workers to cross truckers picket lines. Local 13 president Ray Familathe, (who lost to Adams in the last election) even warned striking ILWU Boron miners in 2010 not to set up picket lines in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach under pain of losing their strike fund benefits. Other officials directed ILWU longshore workers to cross picket lines of the striking ILWU Local 63 Clerical Unit, largely women workers. ILWU’s Ten Guiding Principles have been jettisoned down the hawsepipe sending the union in a downward tailspin. The need for a class struggle leadership is abundantly clear for the sake of all divisions of the ILWU.
Honoring ILWU’s “Ten Guiding Principles” and Building a Class Struggle Leadership
At the peak of the McCarthy witch hunts, the ILWU concerned about the survival of the organization, hammered together “Ten Guiding Principles”, one of which is to never cross or work behind a picket line even if ordered by your union officials. The last ILWU president, Brian McWilliams who understood the importance of labor solidarity and picket lines, was instrumental in supporting international solidarity for the Liverpool dockers struggle and shutting down West Coast ports in solidarity with the WTO protesters in Seattle.
A defining moment in the ILWU occurred at the 2002 Longshore Caucus. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Homeland Security Czar Ridge threatened the union that if there were any jobs actions on the docks, troops would be called out to occupy the ports.  The leadership did not call for international labor solidarity actions as in the past but requested the delegates not to vote for the traditional strike authorization to bolster the Negotiating Committee.

“Homeland Security,” cartoon by Mike Konopacki 2002.
Labor Must Defend the ILWU 
If ICTSI’s owner billionaire Enrique Razon is successful in his court suit, it would be a body blow to labor’s solidarity actions. Union bureaucrats, whether in ILWU or in any union, before taking any action will first consult with attorneys which means no action because of the fear of fines. Given the long history of ILWU’s labor solidarity, often challenging Taft-Hartley, it’s high time for other unions in the U.S. and internationally to reciprocate even if the ILWU isn’t at this time affiliated to the AFL-CIO.  The old syndicalist motto must prevail, “An injury to one is an injury to all!”
Has the labor movement learned its lesson from the defeat of the 1981 PATCO strike? President Reagan attacked the striking air traffic controllers, shackling its union leaders and hauling them off to jail in front of TV cameras, Trump style. The AFL-CIO leadership remained criminally silent, refusing to lift a finger to support the strikers’ picket lines and shut down the airports. Reportedly, when ILWU President Jim Herman suggested to IAM President William Winpisinger that airports and seaports be shutdown in an act of solidarity he was rebuffed. The trade union movement has paid a heavy price for the betrayal of PATCO strikers. Union membership has atrophied for the last 40 years, peaking in 1979 with 21 million members and atrophying to less than half that figure today.
In 2011, when AFL-CIO President Trumka issued a call for unions to support the besieged Wisconsin state workers. Only ILWU Local 10, again in defiance of Taft-Hartley and in the face of PMA employer threats, took on-the-job action and shut Bay Area ports down in a bold act of solidarity. The S.E. Wisconsin AFL-CIO issued a letter stating: “Whether it’s racist apartheid in South Africa, imperialist war in Iraq, or fascist plutocracy in Wisconsin, Local 10, over and over again, shows us “What a Union [should] look like!!” Please convey our appreciation to your members and kick some PMA ass on April 25. In Solidarity, James A. Cavanaugh, President.”
Now the survival of the ILWU is at stake. If the ranks follow ILWU’s militant history, West Coast ports will be shutdown against a union-busting, government-imposed fine. Other unions must join the fight. The ball is in the court of the working class, organized and unorganized. If Trumka doesn’t act in defense of the ILWU and call for solidarity actions, workers must pick up the cudgel. This anti-labor court decision in Portland is a decisive moment for organized labor and all working people.
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Jack Heyman ( is chair of the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee and a retired longshoreman who writes on labor politics and history.