The Occupy movement has announced its schedules for marches as part of its attempt to shutdown West Coast ports on Dec. 12, with demonstrations planned at least for Oakland, Los Angeles-Long Beach and Seattle.
Meanwhile, the ports are conducting a media blitz of their own by promoting the jobs that the ports create and their economic impact on regional economies. The ports' effort to diffuse the planned protests was aided by International Longshore and Warehouse Union's refusal to santion the marches.
Union members are prepared to work on Dec. 12. “If there is no health and safety issue, they’ll be working,” said spokesman Craig Merrilees.
A flyer from Occupy Oakland notes that the march on Dec. 12 will begin at 5:30 a.m. at the West Oakland BART station and proceed to the port. There will also be an afternoon rally in downtown Oakland and a second march to the port at 5 p.m. The second shift at the port begins at 5 p.m.
In Southern California, the Occupy demonstrators plan to congregate at 5 a.m. on Dec. 12 at Harry Bridges Park in Long Beach and march to the port. Occupy Seattle plans a “mass community picket and blockade” beginning at 1 p.m. at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle, followed by a march to the port.
In their flyers, the Occupy movements included statements such as “people over profits” or the imbalance of imports over exports at the ports. The Occupy movements also state their unity with the ILWU over the union’s battle with the EGT grain export terminal in Longview, Wash. EGT since last summer has been attempting to open the terminal with the use of non-ILWU labor.
The Port of Oakland has been especially aggressive in getting its message out to the community. The port over the weekend took out a full-page advertisement in a local newspaper, and launched a website that describes the economic impact the port has on Northern California, said Isaac Kos-Read, director of external affairs.
Los Angeles and Long Beach are working with their port police departments to develop plans that will keep the cargo moving on Dec. 12, while at the same time they are referring local residents to port websites describing the economic impact of port activity on southern California.
The Pacific Maritime Association, the organization that manages the waterfront contract for employers, is working with the ILWU to prepare for the Dec. 12 demonstrations. Jim McKenna, president, said the intention of both parties is for the dock workers to cross any picket lines and report to their jobs, as long as they can do so safely.