The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), has been hit with a union-busting $93.6 million dollar court-imposed fine for a secondary boycott deemed illegal under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. The plaintiff, International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI), owned by the third richest man in the Philippines, billionaire Enrique Razon Jr., operates in 27 ports worldwide, mainly in poor, developing countries. On February 14 in Portland, this capital vs labor battle may be decided by a federal court judge.
Known as the slave labor act by the organized labor movement, the Taft-Hartley Act bans solidarity actions or secondary boycotts as the government’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) refers to an action not directed against the primary employer. In 1947, the Taft-Hartley Act, was passed with support from both Democratic and Republican parties at the beginning of the McCarthy witch hunts. It banned all manner of class struggle: solidarity strikes, mass picketing, closed shops, including union hiring halls, and communists from holding union office.
But it was solidarity actions that built the labor movement. ILWU’s history shows that labor’s strength lies in union solidarity actions. West Coast maritime workers have long been in the forefront of U.S. labor struggles.
Razon’s modus operandi for ICTSI is raw, aggressive neo-liberal capitalism, buying up public-owned ports in developing countries, busting unions, suing competitors or government agencies and making billions in the process. If ICTSI’s owner billionaire Enrique Razon is successful in his court suit, it would be a body blow to labor’s solidarity actions.
The old IWW motto must prevail, “An injury to one is an injury to all!”
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