The Dec 12th Port Shutdown – an open letter from Port workers

Yesterday, Monday Dec 12th, the Occupy Movement successfully shut down several major ports. This was done in solidarity with the port workers, who have had their wages cut to “burger flipper” levels even as their hours have been increased, and have been forbidden to unionize.

Today, port workers published an open letter thanking the Occupy movement for drawing attention to their plight, saying that most of the time, they are “invisible”.

“We receive Third World wages and drive sweatshops on wheels. We cannot negotiate our rates.”

Their attempt to negotiate better wages and working conditions have been unsuccessful, with drivers fired for even wearing a “teamsters” t-shirt, and anti union specialists have been hired to intimidate workers.

Teamsters in many cities also refused to work yesterday in solidarity with the port workers and Occupy.

I recommend you read this post from a minister who was badly beaten by police at the Seattle Port.

Meanwhile, out in the facebook/chat/blogosphere, there was a passionate discussion between those who felt the shutdown was hurting workers, who obviously make very little and desperately need the work — and those who felt that the shutdown cost the owners enough to get their attention, and let them know that their exploitation is not going unnoticed.

That’s why reading this open letter is so important, it’s here

The writers of the letter were chosen by a vote of workers in several west coast cities, and were proud to represent their fellow workers, even though they feared reprisals by the corporations who control the ports.

“We are inspired that a non-violent democratic movement that insists on basic economic fairness is capturing the hearts and minds of so many working people. Thank you “99 Percenters” for hearing our call for justice. We are humbled and overwhelmed by recent attention. Normally we are invisible.

They mention that theirs is one of the nation’s most dangerous professions…yet

we feel humiliated when we receive paychecks that suggest we work part time at a fast-food counter. Especially when we work an average of 60 or more hours a week, away from our families.

more from the letter tells how they are forbidden to unionize, and how their rights as workers are constantly violated.

We have never recovered from losing our basic rights as employees in America. Every year it literally goes from bad to worse to the unimaginable. We were ground zero for the government’s first major experiment into letting big business call the shots. Since it worked so well for the CEOs in transportation, why not the mortgage and banking industry too?

And, BTW, can you guess the name of one of the biggest corporate players in the ports?  I’ll give you a hint: it’s one of the 8 families at the top of the world financial pyramid.  One of the 8 families/corporations that essentially control the Federal Reserve and the international banking system.  Have you guessed it yet?

Another clue: they were cited as one of the corporations responsible for creating the 1929 depression, and also played a huge part in our current 2008 depression.  Oh, and they control both major political parties in the United States, having placed their executives into each administration, whether Democratic or Republican.

If you guessed Goldman Sachs — you’re right.

Why do these same names keep coming up over and over again?  Because the small group of elites has spent decades building a system whereby they own everything.  They aren’t even the 1% — it’s a much smaller group:they are the .01%

And that’s another reason why the Occupy movement is part of the change – it’s bringing everything out into the light.

Here’s an article discussing the owners and their practices:

http://www.alternet.org/economy/153393/how_goldman_sachs_and_other_companies_exploit_port_truck_drivers_%E2%80%94_occupy_protesters_plan_to_shut_down_west_coast_ports_in_protest/

Once we see the corrupt system that’s rigged to enrich the few and starve the many, once we see the corruption and greed – the light is shining on these few who have preferred to keep their unethical behavior  hidden. Once the curtain is pulled back, it’s not “the great and powerful Oz”, is it?  No.  It’s a small group of arrogant fearful small individuals who are addicted to greed.

Now let’s imagine what a better system might look like.  What is the kind of society that YOU would like to live in?

A few suggestions:

  • a clean environment (clean air and water, healthy farms and forests)
  • renewable energy
  • reliable safety net
  • universal free education (as exists in countries such as Sweden)
  • universal free healthcare (as exists in many countries)
  • true democracy (which means money completely out of politics, corporations are NOT people, etc)
  • media held accountable for accuracy and fairness
  • graduated taxation system (as exists in the top 5 happiest countries in the world)
  • fair pay for work, creativity and the arts encouraged – more people-owned small businesses
  • break up all too-big-to-fail banks, encourage local not-for-profit credit unions

Or, even more revolutionary:  can you imagine a society without money?  Some say it can’t be done.  But if you can imagine it, it can happen.  Food for thought.

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