On December 12, 2011 coordinated action by the Occupy movement resulted in the full or partial shutdown of Ports along the Pacific Rim, including Oakland, Long Beach, San Diego, Houston, Portland,
Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver and Anchorage--as well as the Port of Maui and the major inland river Port of Hueneme.
In the Ports where actual stoppage occurred, longshore workers refused to cross community picket lines and truckers didn't show up to work. Port truckers, who are not unionized and cannot legally unionize in most cases, issued a national open letter of thanks to the movement for taking action. 26 truckers had recently been fired in LA for wearing Teamster T-shirts; the initial inspiration for the West Coast blockade had come from short-haul truckers who planned to stop work on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe - December 12th.
In Oakland, protesters successfully shut down multiple shifts at the port, maintaining pickets outside the port for nearly 24 hours. In the evening, a 5,000-person General Assembly voted to maintain the blockade at the Port until 3 a.m. in response to police attacks in Houston, Seattle and elsewhere:
The call for the blockade and the successful shutdown has provoked intense debate on a number of levels. In Oakland, members of the city council introduced emergency legislation to ban future actions at them Port. Within the organized and un-organized working class, the Occupy move has drawn attention to the divide between elected International leadership and the rank-and-file in U.S. unions; the question of who will lead workers during this crisis and where has now been raised. Within Occupy, the action has been the first major national response to the coordinated attack on the camps in the last month. The port shutdown actions have set a direction for a movement that will have to develop and choose between strategies--if it is to survive into the new year.
Protests also received coverage in international outlets and the domestic mainstream media:
And, in a bizarre turn of events, police deployed an orange tent over protesters blocking the port of Houston, in order to execute their arrests out of view of news cameras:
Tomorrow morning, the occupy movement will attempt to shut down every major port on the West coast of the United States, in solidarity with Longshore workers and occupations under attack across the country. The West Coast Port Shutdown has been endorsed by unions and occupations as far away as Honolulu, Tokyo and New York City, with solidarity demonstrations planned in other locations.
Below is a video from today's press conference at the Port of Oakland, as well as an article on the upcoming actions from a comrade in the Bay Area, originally posted on CounterPunch.
Occupy and Class Struggle on the Waterfront
December 12th West Coast Port Shutdown
by Mike King
On December 12th, the entire Occupy movement on the West Coast will blockade their respective ports to shut down “Wall Street on the Waterfront.” This is both an effort to build a mass social struggle in the US against the 1% and a coordinated response to the coordinated attacks against our movement in the last few weeks. If the police repress any of our actions on the West Coast that day, the blockade will continue up and down the coast. This historic action is being taken on independent of existing authorities – from the mayor and police to the unions themselves, who are unable to legally support such actions even if they wanted to. The 1% has been pulling every lever at their command to delegitimate and criminalize the movement. On the 12th we will demonstrate our growing social power, attacking the 1% at their point of profit while expanding and deepening the movement in the workplace, communities, schools and the social imaginary.
The 1% is not simply an abstract slogan. They are the corporations that pay no taxes. They are the financial institutions that drove the economy into the ground. They are the bailed-out bank that won’t re-write your under-water mortgage with the taxpayer funds your grandkids will still be paying for decades from now. The 1% are embodied in the politicians that send your kids or spouses off to fight wars that defend nothing but the profits of the 1%, leaving hundreds of thousands dead all over the world, as veterans with PTSD and Gulf War Syndrome return home to shoddy services and no jobs. When these veterans have stood up for the people of this country on the streets of Oakland, they have been beaten and shot in the head with police projectiles, from a police force freshly trained by the Israeli and Bahrainian military to repress popular protest.
The same bosses that have paid you less in exchange for longer hours and higher productivity for decades; the same politicians who have made you pay more taxes in exchange for de-funded or closed public schools, rising state college tuitions and gutted social services; this political and economic coalition that has brought about the highest degrees of inequality in US history; these are the 1%, and all of them must go.