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  Issue No 108 Official Organ of LaborNet 24 August 2001  

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Unions

Slavery and Struggle

Compiled by Zoe Reynolds

A battle with all the elements of the infamous waterfront dispute is being played out in Charleston, South Carolina:

 
 

Charleston Five

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The fourth largest port in the US and a linchpin for the South's global economy. Ships once brought more captive Africans here than to any other American city. The only thing stronger than racism in South Carolina is the hatred of unions and the attendant fear that workers might choose class solidarity over skin.

Union troubles with the state began on January 19, 2000. A ship from the Danish Nordana Shipping Lines pulled into the port. Nineteen scabs on slave wages were mustered to unload it. On three of Nordana's prior visits the union had picketed without police interference.

This time 600 battle dressed troops surrounded the dock, decamped outside the union hall, patrolled the waters by boat, flew overhead in helicopters, mobilised armoured vehicles and horse units, armed themselves with rubber bullets, beat their batons against their riot shields and waited, waited in the rain for something to happen. And after midnight something did.

Overhead the helicopters droned. People were pushing. Word passed back that guys up front were being clubbed.

William Boogy McPherson, a white clerk heard a cop say "We'll beat the hell out of you niggers."

McPherson¹s not sure when workers started picking up rocks to hurl, but he remembers union leader Ken Riley running from the union hall before being cracked in the head with a baton, receiving a gash that required 12 stitches. It was then that things got ugly. Workers fought back and some were clubbed mercilessly. Police were beating them, shooting at them and dispensing tear gas.

"They gonna kill us, man," McPherson remembers someone crying out, "They gonna kill us".

That night five men were arrested ‹ four black and one white. Action by the International Transport Worker's Federation stopped Nordana Line employing non union labour, but the threat of prison still hangs over the five, who are facing felony rioting charges punishable by up to five years in prison. They are Kenneth Jefferson, Elijah Ford, Peter Washington Jr, Ricky Simmons and Jason Edgerton, members of the International Longshoremen¹s Association.

The opening date of the trial has not been announced, but is expected to be in October or November. On the day longshore workers in 16 countries and along the Pacific Coast have pledged to silence the ports.

From Audacity on Trial (abridged), by JoAnn Wypijewski, The Nation, 6/8/01 www.thenation.com

An MUA delegation led by National Secretary Paddy Crumlin attended the ILWU solidarity conference in LA, USA in July and pledged support for the Charleston 5. Whether at Liverpool in 1995, Patrick in 1998 or Charleston 2001, international dockworkers and wharfies must stand shoulder to shoulder against this international offensive against us, Crumlin said

For petitions, solidarity actions & reports

http://www.ilaunion.org/news

http://www.ilwu.org

http://www.labournet.net


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*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 108 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Interview: The Man from Manusafe
Manusafe chief Andrew Whiley explains why employers have nothing to fear from the entitlements trust fund.
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*  E-Change: 2.4 The Skeptic’s Response
In this round-table discussion, Noel Hester leads the charge against the argument that globalisation and change are inevitable.
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*  Politics: No Hand Idle
Whitlam Institute director Peter Botsman finds much to agree with in John Howard's social coalition for welfare delivery.
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*  Unions: Slavery and Struggle
A battle with all the elements of the infamous waterfront dispute is being played out in Charleston, South Carolina:
*
*  International: Postcard from Santiago
The CFMEU's Phil Davey meets up with Communist Party cadres in Chile who led the underground resistance to Pinochet.
*
*  History: Race and Australian Labour.
Australian unionists have long been questioning notions of a “White Australia”, even before the colonies united with it as the central feature.
*
*  Economics: Global Regulation
Public sector unions from around the globe are taking the first steps to work internationally against the deregulation agenda.
*
*  Satire: Niche Identified in Left-Wing Publications Market
A marxist-feminist activist has discovered a gaping hole in the lucrative left-wing publications market.
*
*  Review: The Fight for Equal Pay
In this extract from her new book, Zelda D'Aprano looks at the contribution Kath Williams made to the struggle for equality.
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News
»  Entitlements Just Tip of the Iceberg
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»  State-Wide Push for Entitlement Protection
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»  Support Builds for Industrial Manslaughter Laws
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»  Organiser Assaulted – Police Called In
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»  Young Casuals Not Paid Overtime
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»  Commonwealth Hit With Criminal Conviction
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»  Back Door Bob Does Wollongong
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»  ABC IR Memo Draws More Fire
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»  Unions Warn of More Deaths in Construction
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»  Big Brother Hits Rail Workers
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»  Libs Dodge Public Education Forum
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»  Westfield Squeezes The Extra Dollar
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»  MP's Staffers Fume Over Pay Deal
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»  Mat Leave Win for Country Energy
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»  No Wonder Wonderland Workers Unhappy
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»  Qld's First Major Review of Awards
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»  Unions Buck Online Ambush
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»  Bras Burned for Burma
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»  Two Capps To Cancel Debt
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»  Australians Work Too Much, Too Long
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»  Activists Notebook
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Columns
»  The Soapbox
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»  The Locker Room
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»  Trades Hall
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»  Tool Shed
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Letters to the editor
»  Waterfront Women's Support Group
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»  Banking Lobby Group
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»  Love Your Tool!
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»  More on Indonesian Workers
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