Occupy protesters move in to block West Coast ports

 12 Dec 2011 03.06pm

  • Protesters will today attempt to force the closure of some of the busiest ports on the West Coast of the US & Canada

Members of the Occupy Movement and Anti-Wall Street protesters are joining forces today in an attempt to blockade some of the busiest ports on the West Coast of the United States and Canada.

Protestors are expected at the US ports of Anchorage, San Diego, Portland, Seattle, and Tacoma, with further demonstrations anticipated at the Canadian city Port of Vancouver, according to the JOC.

At 5:30am today demonstrators are also expected to arrive at the Port of Oakland, the scene of a successful shut down of operations in November by protesters, and even earlier at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Organizers hope that the protests, being billed as "Wall Street on the Waterfront", will attract longshoremen and labor group members to stand alongside them against so-called corporate greed and economic equality.

Last month, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) distanced themselves from the protests claiming that any such rumors to the contrary were wide of the mark.

“To be clear, the ILWU, the Coast Longshore Division and Local 21 are not coordinating independently or in conjunction with any self-proclaimed organization or group to shut down any port or terminal, particularly as it related to our dispute with EGT in Longview (Wash),” read a statement by the ILWU Coast Committee in November.

On Friday the Alameda County Building and Constructions Trades Council, who represent workers at the Port of Oakland, became the second major labor group to announce strong opposition to the movement.

“Unions affiliated with this council represent hundreds of workers who are working and have worked at the Port of Oakland. Not one of these unions has endorsed the call to shut down the port,” said the council.

The lack of support for the movement by both the influential ILWU and the Alameda County Building and Constructions Trades Council will come as a major blow for the Occupy organizers, who have cited the ongoing dispute between the ILWU and grain exporter EGT as the central reason behind the impending blockades.

According to the Press Association, West Coast port officials have been cooperating with local law enforcements in preparation for any disruptions. If the protests prove successful and port entrances are blocked, arbitrators will be left with no option but to instruct port workers to remain at home.