Labor Nay! Occupy Breaks With Obama? Radical ILWU Quits AFL-CIO; Cites Longview EGT Clash and ObamaCare Taxes

September 2, 2013

ILWU Union Members Clash With Cops Over Longview EGT Jobs

H/T Breitbart News
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, ILWU, has broken away from the AFL-CIO union in what could signify a bigger crack between the Occupy left and President Obama.

ILWU International President Bob McEllrath has written a letter to Richard Trumka cutting ties with the grandfather organization claiming Trumka’s union is too “moderate.” McEllrath cited allowing affiliates to cross ILWU picket lines, opposing, then supporting ObamaCare health insurance taxes and undermining ILWU’s position in its fight at the Longview, Washington Export Grain Terminal as just a few reasons why they were breaking away. The letter reads in part,

ILWU participated in Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Portland's Shut Down the Port Strikes
ILWU participated in Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Portland’s Shut Down the Port Strikes.

“[W]e have seen a growing surge of attacks from various affiliates. A particularly outrageous raid occurred in 2011, when one affiliate slipped in to longshore jobs at the new EGT grain facility in the Port of Longview, Washington, and then walked through ILWU picket lines for six months until we were able to secure this critical longshore jurisdiction. Your office added insult to injury by issuing a directive to the Oregon State Federation to rescind its support of the ILWU fight at EGT, which threatened to be the first marine terminal on the West Coast to go non-ILWU.”

And the taxes on gold-plated union health insurance plans were another source of anger by the ILWU leadership,

“The ILWU has also become increasingly frustrated with the Federation’s moderate, overly compromising policy positions on such important matters as immigration, labor law reform, health care reform, and international labor issues. We feel the Federation has done a great disservice to the labor movement and all working people by going along to get along. The Federation has not stood its ground on issues that are most important to our members. President Obama ran on a platform that he would not tax medical plans and at the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention, you stated that labor would not stand for a tax on our benefits. “

In the letter, McEllrath reminds Trumka of ILWU’s “militant” roots on the far left and how

Longview ILWU members clash with police at EGT action. Photo by Don Ryan, AP
Longview ILWU members clash with police at EGT action. Photo by Don Ryan, AP

“moderate” the AFL-CIO has become,

“As you know, the ILWU has a long and proud history of militant independence inside and outside the House of Labor. With roots from the old Wobblies (IWW), our Union arose from industrial-based organizing, against the tradition of craft-based unionism, to become a founding member of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). This affiliation itself, however, did not last long. During the anti-labor, McCarthy period, the ILWU was kicked out of the CIO for being “too red” and too independent, and we did not join the merged AFL-CIO until 1988. In short, the ILWU has been independent and unaffiliated for most of its history. Today, the ILWU returns to that tradition.”

ILWU’s break with the AFL-CIO represents a further fraying of the far left’s support of the Obama Administration. President Obama has upset the far left for considering attacking Syria and for the disastrous ObamaCare plan, which raises health insurance and health care costs while stopping short of giving the left its beloved universal health. 

Here’s the letter that Bob McEllrath sent to AFL-CIO Chief Richard Trumka.