What is the LWC?
The LWC is a movement of ILA members, retirees and their family members organizing to build a stronger and more democratic longshore union.
Who is part of the LWC?
We are crane operators and car drivers, checkers and baggage handlers, lashers, mechanics, hustler drivers, break bulk handlers, tugboat operators, warehouse workers, retirees and their family members. We are black and white workers, women and men, immigrants and native born. We have members in ports up and down the East and Gulf Coasts: Hampton Roads, NY/NJ, Charleston, Savannah, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Mobile, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Lake Charles, Houston, Canada, Puerto Rico and more.
We encourage every longshore worker who agrees with our principles of unity, who wants a strong and democratic union to join us in this struggle and become a member of the LWC.
Principles of Unity:
Justice - We stand for social and economic justice in the ILA and for all working people and for those who can not care for themselves. We need to fight to change labor law to make it fair. A place to start would be repealing Taft-Hartley. We need to strengthen Social Security and institute Universal Health Care in the United States. In other words we believe we need to use our strength to raise everyone else up with us.
Democracy - We stand for direct election of all officers; one member-one vote by secret paper ballot. We support reasonable term and age limits for officers. A union office is not a ticket off the docks nor is it a cushy gig for life. We should all be in the same boat. In addition we need elected and well trained shop stewards beholden to the membership and not the companies. Genuine democracy and participation are essential for a strong union.
An "All in the Same Boat" Union - It’s time to eliminate excessive and multiple salaries, multiple retirement benefits and emeritus salaries for union officers. Our officers should make what we make. Period. Multiple salaries are corrupting. You've heard the saying: "He who pays the piper calls the tune!" We should all have the same retirement. No secret deals. We’re a union not a piggy bank. Sometimes it's hard to remember that our officers work for us not the other way around. If we get a better deal, so do they. Money is power, and shouldn’t be squandered on excessive compensation when we need to use it for other things like organizing all the nonunion work in our own industry.
Safety and Health - We work to live, not to die. A safe and healthy work environment is a right. We must effectively exercise the right to refuse unsafe assignments. The rank and file must determine what is safe not management. We have a right to a humane work schedule, safe staffing levels and clean air to breathe. We need adequate safety training. MILA (our national health plan) needs remain fully funded. We demand elected rank and file safety committee in each shop.
Unified Response to an Industrial Killing - When a sister or brother is killed on one of our terminals the ILA needs a clear, unified response: A 24 hour shut down of the entire Port where the tragedy occurred. This honors the sacrifice of the life lost as well as the pain of their remaining loved ones. It gives time for a thorough investigation, by a third neutral party, to determine what happened and adjust policy if needed. It allows time for the port workers to process the tragedy. And it is just plain decent.
Strong Contracts - We must fight to end wage and benefit tiers. The union’s purpose is to expand what we have, not trade it away. We must have contract campaigns that involve the membership with open bargaining. No backroom deals. We need research on our industry to bargain as equals with management. In order to increase our bargaining position we need to synchronize our contract expiration and term with the ILWU.
Just Cause Standard - We need a strong, plain language Just Cause Standard in the Master Contract that supercedes all local agreements. Loosing a job in our world is the economic equivalent to execution.
A fair grievance procedure - Workers should remain on the job until a full hearing and should be considered innocent until proven guilty. We will fight to end the back room deals at the contract boards and dock and marine councils.
Hiring free of discrimination and favoritism - All shape-ups, dispatching and hiring should be done in the open with established rules and records posted to the membership. This applies equally for a specific job as well as new hires into the industry. We need to end favoritism and the corrosive effect it has on our union. Pay to play or even the perception of pay to play needs to end.
A Comprehensive Job Security Plan - Automation threatens our jobs at every turn. We need a national bi-coastal new technology agreement. We need real job security. Any job lost needs to be paid at 80% of income until retirement. There need to be strong economic disincentives in place to protect our work. Automation needs to be taxed to compensate the loss of jobs to port communities. The economy should serve people not the other way around.
A Secure Retirement - It is unacceptable that some ports have no pension and every port is on their own. The time is long overdue in the ILA for a National Defined Benefit Pension Plan second to none that includes a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) clause, strong survivor benefits (75% or better) and the ability to purchase pension credits. As one of the most profitable industries in the United States the workers who made that profit deserve one of the best retirements in the United States. Furthermore, we demand the conversion of our defined contribution 401's into a National Cash Balance Plan with allowance for member contributions.
End to discrimination on the job and in our union - For years the maritime industry has divided us by age, race, gender, language and nationality, making us compete with one another. We must stop injustice and fight to end discrimination on the job and in our union.
An Organizing Plan - We need to educate and organize our existing membership, internally. We need to teach new members what a union is. We need rigorous training for current and future leadership. We must also organize all nonunion work in our industry. We need to help our nonunion sisters and brothers organize or watch our bargaining power and numbers decline. It is a matter of survival and solidarity. It is also the only way to win the best possible deal.
Union Education - Few of our members know what a union is or the often violent history of the labor movement or how we got to where we're at. Many don't know how a pension works or the details of our contracts or the legal framework of the labor movement. The same goes for political economy. We need an accessible and progressive education program for our members.
Solidarity - We realize we’re not in this alone and need to support others in strengthening the labor movement.