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Port Whine: Big Labor’s Occu-punks

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 14, 2011 09:31 AM

My column follows up on Monday’s blog coverage of the West Coast Port Shutdown by the Occupy Wall Street movement (the D12 primer is here if you missed it) — and exposes how the so-called Big Labor progressives and their propaganda tools are the nation’s biggest enemies of economic and technological progress. It’s no coincidence that businesses using cutting-edge technology and automation are now being targeted and demonized while a man who blames ATMs (which have been around for four decades) and automation for his skyrocketing unemployment rate is sitting in the White House.

Chaos is the progressive Luddites’ goal. Chaos is the reality — and enablers like left-wing Oakland Mayor Jean Quan are reaping what they sow:

In Seattle, police used “flash-bang” percussion grenades to break-up demonstrators and made arrests. Police Detective Jeff Kappel said protesters hurled flares, bags of paint and debris at officers and police horses, injuring one officer. Two others were arrested in Oakland for ignoring orders to unblock a gate where trucks were entering the port, reported interim Police Chief Howard Jordan.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is concerned about how the protesters will affect the people of the city this holiday season. “People have to think about the consequences,” she said. People have to think about who they are hurting. They are saying, ‘We want to get the attention of the ruling class.’ Well I think the ruling class is probably laughing, and people in this city will be crying this Christmas. It’s really got to stop”…

They’re not getting the message. Neither are the clueless elites at Time Magazine, who celebrated “The Protester” as their “person of the year.” But it looks like more on the left side of the aisle are getting tired of the mob. The liberal Los Angeles Times editorial board pans Occupy’s second act:

“The shipping industry didn’t get America into this economic mess, and there is little it could do to get us out. In times of rising joblessness, it’s common to blame foreign competition for the losses at home. But blaming ports or shippers for the changes wrought by an increasingly global economy is sort of like fingering automakers for urban traffic congestion. In its search for a new direction, Occupy Wall Street would probably do better to occupy the National Mall than San Pedro.”

So did the Portland Oregonian:

As the picketers meandered from one terminal to the next, they took a day’s pay away from almost 400 International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers who were told to avoid the protests and stay home on Monday. It’s doubtful that large exporters and ship-owning companies such as Goldman Sachs were affected in any way by Monday’s protest — but hundreds of Oregon families took a holiday hit to their paychecks.

Moreover, the picketers interfered with the deliveries of dozens of locally based companies trying to get their products to the port — and to markets beyond — costing them and their Oregon employees many thousands of dollars. That probably didn’t win a lot of new converts to the Occupy movement.

Still, if you glanced at the news coverage of the protests you got an unusual peek at a typical day of economic activity at the port — workers managing loads of animal feed and straw from Willamette Valley ryegrass fields, aircraft parts from Aurora and shipments from Oregon’s major international companies, including Columbia Sportswear, Intel and Nike.

By coincidence, on Tuesday a South Korea trade officer, Juseong Lim, was in Portland to speak to Oregon business and government leaders about the recently approved Korean free trade agreement. Lim said the agreement will erase high tariffs in his country and clear the way for more Northwest products — everything from beef, blueberries and other Oregon agricultural products to knives, backpacks and other equipment produced by this state’s cluster of outdoor equipment-makers. “Oregon should be a big supporter of this agreement,” Lim said.

So should everyone on the West Coast. Every day, on average, seaports from Seattle to Portland to Los Angeles and San Diego generate more than $700 million a day in economy activity creating more than 260,000 employment hours and more than $9 million in wages. Every day.

The Korean free trade agreement will spur still more economic activity. So will efforts such as Gov. John Kitzhaber’s recent trade mission to Korea, China and Japan. Oregon already exports nearly $1 billion in goods to Korea and has even larger trading relationships with China and Japan.

The Occupy movement shut down the port on Monday apparently to make some kind of garbled statement about big financial companies that contributed to the global economic meltdown. What they demonstrated, instead, is that if you’re looking for the beating heart of Portland’s and Oregon’s economy, you’ll find it down on the docks.

In related news, GOP Rep. Darrell Issa is challenging the White House on whether it is allowing Occupy DC to camp illegally in McPherson Square for political purposes. In NYC, Occupy Wall Street chief flack and former public school teacher Justin Wedes was caught attempting to commit Americorps fraud and refuses to answer questions about the ripoff. And following up on my reporting last week about the Scholastic News Occupy whitewash, Susanne Hiller at Hot Air illuminates Scholastic’s hypocrisy problem.

A NYC eatery closes down as a result of the Occupy blockades.

And in case you missed it, here’s Neil Cavuto schooling an Occupy Portland tool.

***
Port Whine: Big Labor’s Occu-punks
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2011

Scruffy progressive protesters locked themselves together across railroad tracks, blocked traffic and shouted profanities at police on Tuesday in a coordinated “West Coast Port Shutdown.” Truckers lost wages. Shippers lost business. This is what the Occupy Wall Street movement calls “victory.”

Aging Big Labor bosses toasted one another from the sidelines as they declared the “rebirth of the labor movement.” What’s really going on? It’s an old-school power grab by a decrepit union wrapped in self-deluded social media do-goodism.

Peace-loving agitators wielding guitars and iPhones may earnestly believe they stood up to corruption and stood up for workers this week. A socialist website promoted the port shutdown as an expression of “solidarity” for the workers’ “struggle.” One Oakland, Calif., agitator decried “exploitation by capitalism” as the shiftless busily divided their work blockages into what they called — chortle — “shifts.”

In reality, it’s the young Occupiers who are being exploited as human shields for the economy-strangling agenda of the violence-prone International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). These ignorant punks are putting the “front” in “waterfront.”

Few remember now that the left’s three-month-long “Day of Rage” festivities kicked off in September at the Port of Longview, Wash. — a far cry from Goldman Sachs and the rest of New York’s financial district. Unionized longshoremen stormed the port there and took a half-dozen guards hostage. They damaged railroad cars, dumped grain, smashed windows, cut rail brake lines and blocked a train for hours while the ILWU and AFL-CIO cheered them on.

The violence followed a similar outburst in July, when longshoremen tore down a chain link fence on EGT’s private property and blocked railroad tracks to prevent a grain delivery — a clear violation of the 1946 Hobbs Act, which makes it a crime to employ robbery or extortion to impede interstate commerce.

Despite breaking federal law, violating a judicial restraining order and committing systematically planned sabotage and trespassing, most of the union thugs got away with wrist slaps. The ILWU received a $250,000 fine to cover damages from the vandalism — a fine that will be paid with rank-and-file workers’ hard-earned dues money.

So, what’s their beef? No, it’s not about the “right” of unions to “organize.” It’s not about the welfare of the “99 percent.” It’s about one union losing its seven-decade-old grip on West Coast port operations. It’s about six-figure-salaried union suits at the ILWU, established by bloody radical Marxist Harry Bridges, throwing a lawless tantrum against economic efficiency and technological progress.

The ILWU is trying to break the will of EGT Development, a multinational agribusiness that recently built a $200 million grain terminal in Longview. It’s a state-of-the-art facility with unprecedented automation features that will speed unloading, increase shipping capacity and bring in tens of millions of dollars in lease and tax payments alone to the region.

EGT needs a nimble 21st-century workforce. The entitled overlords of the ILWU, who have ruled West Coast ports since the 1930s, are demanding a monopoly on the company’s master control system, control over the work hour structure, excessive mandatory breaks and extortionist man-hour “premiums” to bail out the union’s underfunded pension. “We’ve worked these elevators since 1934, and we’ve always been in that master console,” local ILWU President Dan Coffman told public radio.

EGT refused and instead brought in an outside contractor with a different union to fill about 50 jobs. But the ILWU water-carriers in the Occupy movement don’t care about those workers. Or the American farmers who have been hurt by the port saboteurs. Or the independent non-union truckers who were forced to forgo work in the name of worker empowerment. Trucker Hai Ngo of San Leandro, Calif., told the San Francisco Chronicle: “The Occupy people handed out flyers to us, but never asked what we thought before they planned this. I will lose about $350, and at holiday time that hurts. It’s just a waste of our time and money, and won’t accomplish anything.”

Unfortunately, Ngo and blue-collar workers like him are collateral damage in the ILWU’s ruthless battle for Big Labor survival. Coffman, who has stoked violence for months, vowed earlier this year that “we will fight to the end to secure what is rightfully our turf.”

And now the gasping longshoremen’s union has a whole new set of Occu-tools to do the dirty work for them.

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