this is the stuff “amen’s” are made of.

My job basically consists of doing a lot of research on the 1999 Seattle WTO protests. So I’ll probably be posting interesting tidbits every now and then.

Right now I’m working on finding out who the key speakers for the Labor Rally were and what they said. This is the first speech I’ve come by – from International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) (a labor union that represents dockworkers on the West Coast, Hawaii and Alaska) International President Brian McWilliams.

It’s frikkin sweet. Especially the bits about the their boycotts of goods from countries oppressing and disenfranchising their people.

ILWU International President Brian McWilliams’ speech at the WTO Labor Rally 11/30/99

“The free trade advocates of the WTO have come to Seattle to further their strategic takeover of the global economy. We in the ILWU want to give them the welcome they deserve and let them know what we think of their plans. So we’ve closed the Port of Seattle and other ports on the West Coast. There will be no business as usual today.

In closing these ports the ILWU is demonstrating to the corporate CEOs and their agents here in Seattle that the global economy will not run without the consent of the workers. And we don’t just mean longshore workers, but workers every where in this country and around the world.

When the ILWU boycotted cargo from El Salvador and apartheid South Africa, when we would not work scab grapes from the California valley or cross picket lines in support of the fired Liverpool Dockers, these were concrete expressions of our understanding that the interests of working people transcend national and local boundaries, and that labor solidarity truly means that when necessary we will engage in concrete action.

That is why the ILWU is here today, with all of you — to tell the agents of global capital that we, the workers, those who care about social justice and protecting our rights and our planet, will not sit quietly by while they meet behind closed doors to carve up our world. We know that what they have in mind for us is a race to the bottom, dismantling our protective laws wherever they find us weak, that they want to pit workers of one country against the workers of another, to erase our protections and standards in an international corporate feeding frenzy in which workers are not just on the menu — we are the main course. We will not cooperate

We know our history, our legacy and our ongoing responsibility. No one can make this statement stronger than longshore workers who make their living moving international cargo. And what do we want? We demand fair trade — not free trade — not the policies of the WTO that are devastating workers everywhere and the planet that sustains us.

And let us be clear. Let’s not allow the free traders to paint us as isolationist anti-traders. We are for trade. Don’t ever forget —  it is the labor of working people that produces all the wealth. When we say we demand fair trade policies we mean we demand a world in which trade brings dignity and fair treatment to all workers, with its benefits shared fairly and equally, a world in which the interconnectedness of trade promotes peace and encourages healthy and environmentally sound and sustainable development, a world which promotes economic justice and social justice and environmental sanity. The free traders promote economic injustice, social injustice and environmental insanity.

We are sending the WTO this message loud and clear. We will not sit idly by while you corporate puppets of the WTO plot this economic coup. You will not seize control of our world without a fight.

Are you ready for the fight?

Damn right!”


Published in: on June 19, 2008 at 9:45 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. I was there, first thing in the morning, on the first day. If you’re interrested in a first hand account that goes beyond the irresponsibly sensationalistic news coverage, feel free to contact me. Just go to my cojourn.wordpress blog and click the About CoJourn tab for my e-mail address. It’s down the page a bit but you can find it.

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