So Twitter is abuzz with the news that the Port of Oakland has been shut down; major news sites are either ignoring the act or standing with reports from earlier in the day that the port is operating. That makes it sound like the general strike, focusing on the port, has been a failure. But then there’s this:
The Port of Oakland was chosen as the protest site because the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has a rare contract clause that allows workers to honor certain community picket lines. If workers arriving for a 7 p.m. shift decide not to cross the line, a shutdown could result. LA Times
So i suppose that neither sort of report is true, or even knowable yet.
There are also reports of wildcat strikes inside the port, but those may well be work related. It’s possible that the longshoremen will walk out when the Occupy protesters form their picket line outside the port. Anything’s possible at this point. OPD says that it will help marchers get to the port safely, which seems strange given that the picket is the most likely thing to bring about the port closure.
I crossed a picket line once. My best friend and i were probably ten years old, and had a little money for goodies. We really didn’t know why all the people were in a line in front of the grocery store. It was back in the olden days when even grocery store workers were unionized. There were like two workers and no customers. I can vividly recall that it was uncomfortable. When we got back to my friend’s house, his dad glared at our purchases and asked where we got them. Our answer brought about a short lesson in economics and labor. Mark asked if we liked all the things that made our lives pleasant; he asked if we liked the roof over our heads and the food on the stove; he asked if we enjoyed the summer trip to Cedar Point. And then he drove home the point that without the unions we’d likely have none of it. The lecture, i should add, was filled with coarse language and seething anger, delivered by a guy who did two tours as a door gunner in the 101st.
That was the only picket line i’ll ever cross. My guess is that most of the longshoremen in Oakland feel even more strongly than i do. If they walk, the Occupy movement goes to a whole different level.
Latest update is that marchers leave for the port in 30 minutes. There are also reports of vandalism, and almost no police presence.
Update: At the moment, the Port of Oakland has been closed by thousands of people blocking the entrances and bridge. No announcement from the Longshore and Warehouse Union.