My co-writer and I are big supporters of the occupy movement. Every day that this movement goes on is another day that a great idea is shared and acted upon. Another day that this country is moved back in the right direction away from corporate dominance and back into the hands of the people.

The Port Truck Drivers have risked retaliation — and make no mistake, it is a huge risk — to write an open letter of support to the Occupy the Ports protest, another offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Port Truck Drivers desperately want to unionize and are taking hell for it. They are facing unhealthy and inhumane working conditions and constant harassment for wanting to improve those conditions. Imagine having to pee into a bottle, or worse defecate into a bag, on a daily basis because there are no bathrooms at your work. Imagine having to do so even though it is an act that could get you suspended because you have no other choice.

They don’t want to work in these conditions, but most are stuck in truck leases and can’t easily leave their job for another. Moreover, they like the work they do. They just want the ability to have safe and human working conditions at their jobs, like all of us. So they have elected to take a stand to make things better.

In the letter they make an important point — why should they have to leave their job if they “don’t like the conditions?” Why should a normal system be broken so that a company can have more money?

And this ties right back in to the anti-union sentiment you hear politicians toss about. In Wisconsin and elsewhere, they try to divide the working class (in fact, everyone who counts as the 99%) by pointing out how much better conditions are for unionized workers than for non-unionized workers — better wages, better benefits, better pensions, better sick day policies — and they ask the question, why should unions have all that when you don’t? It’s a smokescreen, a ruse, a misdirection, a lie. The real question is this: Why shouldn’t all of us be strive to work in those better conditions?

Companies like SSA Marine and Maersk shouldn’t get away with these illegal activities that actively harm the people who work for them so they can make a fast buck. And if I were them, I would be very afraid of the combination of Port Truckers and Occupy protestors being backed up by the Teamsters. Read the letter and show your support for Clean and Safe Ports.

Discussion (2) ¬

  1. subcultures

    It is always about means and ends. The goals are noble, it is unquestionable. Every movement has good goals. But the question of resources, means. Can they just use good means to reach their goals. There are many questions regarding the movement. I think it’s a utopia.

  2. darthmike

    I think that point pops up whenever mass movements have faced such implacable foes and change seems out of the question, but in reality this is where the rubber hits the road for these ideas of peace and justice. I’ll play devil’s advocate here for a moment and ask you if lasting change has ever been accomplished by anything other than a peaceful movement? Things that come about by force need to have constant force to maintain them. Eventually that position cannot be maintained. Things that are accomplished by peaceful movements take vigilance too, but not as much as the constant use of force that it takes to maintain a violence-based system like slavery.

    Things that I count as having been accomplished by peaceful means, with little resources, in the face of seemingly unbeatable odds would be abolition, suffrage, civil rights, kicking the British out of India, and on a somewhat smaller scale the Clearwater Revival movement to clean up the Hudson river. OWS is having an incredible effect and that’s why there are so many attempts to clear them out using force. I can certainly understand your point though. ‘Sit there and be non-violent in the face of violence.’ is never a sexy answer, but it is an effective one and in my mind the only one.

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