Now, this looks interesting, eh?
A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
A coalition of striking aluminum workers, members of the IWW and Earth
First! successfully blockaded a shipload of Australian aluminum ore from
docking at the port of Tacoma Washington on Monday, December 7. 3,100
members of the United Steel Workers of America local 7945 have been on
strike against Kaiser Aluminum since September 30 citing unfair labor
practices and planned layoffs at plants in Tacoma and Spokane and other
plants across the country. Earth First! operatives locked down at the
tip of a shipping crane and to an elevated ore conveyor while unionists
and other activists picketed the port's terminal 7 and a flotilla of
small boats blocked the waterway forcing the 650 tonne ore transport Sea
Diamond to anchor off. Members of the Longshoreman's Union refused to
cross the picket in solidarity with the striking workers. The only
rough point in an otherwise smooth action came when the climbers on the
conveyor, who had waited through openings of calm for slow responding
media, deployed a 50foot banner in gusty winds and were tossed like rag
dolls for several minutes.
Kaiser aluminum is 68% owned by Charles Hurwitz's MAXXAM corp. and both
unionists and environmentalists scored media hits against the
controversial corporate plunderer, drawing parallels between MAXXAM's
treatment of workers and the environment. "HURWITZ CUTS JOBS JUST LIKE
HE CUTS TREES" read the giant banner above symbols of the United
Steelworkers, IWW and Earth First!
While some inroads have been made in forging solidarity between timber
workers and environmentalists in California, this is the first time such
groups have worked together at this level. Two Earth Firsters were
arrested and three others were issued citations. New ties were forged
between the groups involved and activists from each camp were abuzz with
plans for future cooperation.
The Sea Diamond did eventually dock late in the day, but the
longshoremen, bound by arbitration to continue work, have been rather
slow about unloading scab bound ore from previous shipments, it took
them twice as long as usual to unload the last ship. A single day's
delay costs MAXXAM some $32,000.
I was not able to file this story until the evening of the 9th.
Unloading of the Sea Diamond has still not begun as Longshoremen
preparing for work Tuesday discovered that the conveyor had been
damaged. Rumor has it that the sabotage was targeted to critical and
difficult points in the unloading apparatus. The reported damage, the
cutting of the conveyor belt, is estimated to cost $50,000 and several
The banner hang made all the local outlets in addition to coverage on
Northwest Cable News, UP, NPR, and a brief live CNN cut. Image files
available at http://www.ecoecho.org/unfurl.html
Given Julia Butterfly's media the same night,a sympathetic if
condescending last story on NBC's evening news, a pretty bad press day
The A-Infos News Service
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