Thursday, September 22, 2011

Teamsters protest poverty jobs at Port of Seattle

A gritty video from the Spanish-language television network Univision makes the case against poverty wages at the Port of Seattle in a different way. A news report chronicles the way Australia-based Toll Group demeans and intimidates port drivers who want to join a union. Watch it here.

As Local 117 points out, Seattle's so-called "Port of Prosperity" is anything but a gold mine for baggage handlers, skycaps, concession workers, janitors, wheelchair pushers and truck drivers. They can barely support their families by working several jobs in a hostile work environment.

Local 117 targeted the Port of Seattle's highly paid port director, Tay Yoshitani, during a rally last week. According to Local 117, members 
...joined hundreds of community members on September 16 in downtown Seattle to demand that Port of Seattle CEO, Tay Yoshitani, and his staff do more to ensure that the Port is a source of good family-wage jobs so that workers at the Port can provide a decent life for themselves and their families.
The rally took place in front of the Westin Hotel, where Port executives from around the country had gathered for the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) annual convention.
While inside the convention, highly-paid Port executives touted the Port of Seattle as a “Port of Prosperity,” the scene outside told a very different story.
Rally participants chanted, “What do we want? Good jobs! When do we want them? Now!” Others held signs that read, “Port of Poverty” or displayed Yoshitani’s photo with a caption that read, “Overpaid.”
One hundred thirty miles to the south, longshore workers are fighting for their livelihoods as EGT, a multinational company, tries to take away their jobs -- after getting special favors from the state. David Groves at The Stand explains
EGT got a special state tax exemption and a sweetheart lease deal from the Port of Longview to build a $200 million grain terminal there. The government even seized adjacent land for the project. But as soon as the deal’s ink was dry and the ceremonial first shovel of dirt was overturned two years ago, EGT began running the project on the cheap.
Twelve longshore workers, their wives and mothers were arrested yesterday in the continuing dispute, and two people were treated after they were pepper sprayed.

This is the price our society pays for all that cheap crap from China we buy at big box retailers.