Friday, October 05, 2007


The Marine Worker Monitor reports on August 23, West Sacramento cops and private SSA Marine Terminal(SSA) security guards viciously attacked, two Local 10 brothers returning to work after lunch on the SSA terminal. When the guards demanded to search the car, the brothers asked to see the MARSEC (maritime security) reg and called the Local 10 business agent.

Instead the guards called the cops.

The Monitor adds:

While talking by phone to BA MacKay and without provocation, they were assaulted, dragged from the car, maced and jailed, charged with “trespassing”. How the hell can a longshoreman be “trespassing”, after returning to work at the terminal. They’d already shown PMA ID and a driver’s license. This is racial profiling and police brutality. The longshoremen were black and the cops white. Such is the brutal face of the “war on terror” on the docks.

The police action was, needless to say, done in the name of "port security." The workers, however, had all the ID necessary for their presence at the port.

A letter of solidarity from Leonard Riley of Charleston ILA Local 1422 to Local 10 read in part:

Historically it has been this arm of the government ( the police ) that has been used in the initial attack on groups of workers. They come in and attack the workers and afterwards they file charges against the same workers. It is at this point that the another arm of the government ( the courts ) takes over the assault the on these workers.

"This tactic is all to familiar. I was the same one employed on a group of workers in Charleston, SC in January of the year 2000. They later became known as the "Charleston Five".

I am deeply concerned with this most recent attack on our Brothers of Local 10. After finding out about this aggressive act, I started the process of informing the membership of ILA, Local 1422. Everyone that I have spoken to express much outrage. Local 1422 condemns this despicable act and in solid support of Local 10. Local 10 was there for the Charleston Five and Local 1422 will be there for you. "An injustice there is an injustice everywhere".

All of us in organized labor must unite to fight against this kind of organized attack on all working people."

Local 10 has a history of of progressive unionism. They took part in the international solidarity movement—helping to bring down the apartheid regime in South Africa. They have protested the war against Iraq, and they have fought against racism inside the United States.

That's about all it takes in Bush's America to be a target of repression and these guys working the docks out in the Bay Area know it.

Or does it even take that.

Like working people everywhere these men and women have to face hazards, often unnecessary on the job.

Late last month a 15-ton container was being locked onto the top of another container on the deck of a cargo ship fell on one of their brothers killing 39 year old Reginald Ross (pictured here).

The nearly 1,500 members of ILWU Longshore Local 10 stopped working immediately. John Showalter of the ILWU said the reasons for the work stoppage are self-evident, to allow a time to mourn and to inspect the equipment to determine whether or not faulty equipment caused the death, Showalter said.

But not everyone at the Port was happy about the down time. They pointed out the shut down cost time and time is money and that's what the game is all about.

Being a hard working American doesn't necessarily win you any points with the powers that be. Au contraire.

By the way, Reggi Ross was the 9th ILWU worker killed on the job since January 2005. The others were:

Joseph Alesio, killed in April 2007 after being run over by a top-loader at the APL intermodal yard in Seattle.

Ken Eddo, who died from traumatic injuries in November 2006 caused when the yard tracker he was driving rolled violently into a standing position, slamming him into the interior of the cab.

Jose "Pepe" Perez Correa, who died in August 2006 when his truck crashed through a railing and plunged into the Stockton Deep Water Channel. Divers found the truck in 32 feet of water and recovered the body only after a 31-hour delay from the time of the accident, prompting union officials to press the city and the port for rescue and recovery divers.

Kimberly Kuchman-Miles, who died in August 2005 when a container fell off an Evergreen ship and crushed her. She was part of the lashing crew that had just gone on break when the can fell. Three other workers scrambled to safety. The Local 23 casual is the first female longshore worker killed on West Coast docks.

Robert Smith, who suffered a heart attack in April 2005 after a strenuous training of how to handle heavy steel bars used to lash cargo containers to a ship. Local 23 trainers called 911 and administered CPR, but had no readily available first aid kits, oxygen masks, CPR facilities or Automatic External Defibrillator (AED). The emergency crew that attempted to save Smith was dispatched from a fire station slated for closure but that the union fought to keep open.

Douglas Espinoza, who died in February 2005 when he stepped into a paper baler at California Waste Solutions, triggering an automatic sensor that activated the machine. Espinoza, a member of warehouse Local 6, had worked at the Oakland recycling facility for five years.

Matt Petrasich, who was found dead on January 31, 2005, on the top of a container stack on the ship "Ever Deluxe" at the Evergreen Terminal in Los Angeles Harbor. He had been supervising container discharge when the accident happened.

Robert Padgett, killed in January 2005 when a walkway on a cement loading machine at the Port of Redwood City collapsed and sent him plunging 40 feet down to the deck of the ship below. Padgett, a registered member of longshore Local 10 with 14 years of seniority, was working as a walking boss when it happened.

Risk your life at work, get hassled by cops, is that what it's all about in the USA?

It's time to stand up and "Support Our Workers!"

The following is from the Daily Democrat (Woodland Hills,California). The police version of events in the article below should raise your dander.

ILWU cries foul
Union leaders say West Sac PD lost control in arrest of members.

Jack Heyman, executive board member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, leads a rallying call outside the Yolo County Superior Court Thursday morning in protest of the case against two union port workers who were arrested while working in West Sacramento earlier this year. The two men were arraigned Thursday. (Matthew Henderson/Democrat) You ready to fight?
Damn right!

That was the angry call and defiant verbal return of more than 150 International Longshore and Warehouse Union members, mostly from San Francisco who gathered outside the Yolo County courthouse in protest of an arraignment hearing of two of their fellow members charged with obstruction of justice.

The ILWU members say the two men were wrongfully assaulted and arrested by police in the port of West Sacramento in August.

The two black port workers, Aaron Harrison and Jason Ruffin, who are members of the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union, were returning after lunch to a port terminal in West Sacramento where they were working on Aug. 23, when, according to union officials, they were

Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union gather near the front of the Yolo County courthouse Thursday morning. About 150 members from as far away as San Francisco came to the protest. (Matthew Henderson/Democrat) stopped by port security, who requested to search their car.
The two men responded by asking to see the security guard's identification and called their local union representative, according to union officials.

The security guards, in turn, called West Sacramento police, who arrived on the scene shortly thereafter.

According to union officials, the police dragged the two union members from their car, sprayed them with mace and arrested them for trespassing and resisting arrest.

Harrison and Ruffin's attorneys asked the court to continue their arraignment date until Oct. 22, to provide them time to review the police report and other evidence.

"I think this is the result of a big misunderstanding at the port of West Sacramento that day," said Jonathan Turner, Harrison's attorney. "As the court process progresses, that will be established."

Others at the protest see it as a more insidious encounter.

"They roughed them up and maced them," said Terrence Willis, former ILWU Local 10 president. "And they think they have the right to do that. You have a clear case of police brutality and racial profiling."

Willis said Harrison and Ruffin were completely innocent and the charges against them should be dropped.

Other more local activists present at the protest said the August incident is simply another example of a West Sacramento Police Department that is out of control.

"This is just more fodder against the West Sac PD," said Rev. Ashiya Odeye, director of the Justice Reform Coalition, a Sacramento-based civil rights advocacy group. "This just shows what they've been doing to the citizens of West Sacramento. But now they have made the mistake of doing this to members of a union."

Odeye, along with other activists, have been mounting a grass-roots opposition to an injunction being sought by the Yolo County District Attorney's office against a local gang in West Sacramento in part because of what Odeye said were rampant reports of police brutality against innocent residents in the area.

Henry Serrano, deputy chief of police for the West Sacramento Police Department, said that's not what happened.

Serrano said Harrison and Ruffin normally work at a port in Oakland, and were new faces in West Sacramento that day.

He said they were then randomly selected for search by port secuirty upon their return from lunch. The search was performed in accordance with Coast Guard requirements - not because of their race, Serrano said.

"Every so many vehicles they check," Serrano said. "So that's where they were confused about that."

Harrison and Ruffin refused to be searched, which resulted in West Sacramento police officers coming to the port to assist security personnel.

The police ordered the two port workers to clear the driveway if they would not submit to the search - they refused to move, Serrano said.

"For over five-and-a-half minutes our officers try and talk to these individuals and try to explain to them, 'you don't have to be searched if you don't want, but you can't just sit here, blocking the drive,'" Serrano said. "There's no compliance and eventually the officers tell them they need to get out of the car."

Failing to comply with what Serrano said was a lawful order, Harrison and Ruffin were removed from their car by the officers.

Serrano said the entire incident lasted no more than several seconds as the driver was squirted with pepper spray and taken from the vehicle.

"The passenger wasn't even touched until he was handcuffed," Serrano said. "They were not being compliant with a lawful order, which is subject to Coast Guard regulations."

Serrano added that a port security videotape of the incident, which is currently in evidence, verifies his version of events.

West Sacramento police have also previously denied any such allegations of abuse and vowed to vigorously investigate any legitimate claims of police misconduct.

Officials from SSA Marine, the company that manages the port, did not return calls for comment.

Harrison and Ruffin will have to report back at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 22 at the Yolo County Superior Court to plea to the single misdemeanor obstruction charge against them. A previous charge of trespassing was dropped.

However, Jack Heyman, executive board member of the ILWU Local 10 union warned there will be increasingly more protesters at future hearings if the charges aren't dropped.

"We're going to get our people from San Francisco, Stockton and Oakland at the courthouse - and if they're here they can't be at the docks working."

No comments: