So we had a great and rowdy Australian Consulate visit, with over 100 people there, about 30 people came all the way from the Harbor. Also represented with the United Farm Workers, AFSCME, SEIU, UCLA students, Building Trades, LA County Federation of Labor, Justice for Janitors, CWA, OCAW... Thanks to OCAW for providing the bus from the harbor, the Janitors for the picket signs, and to the speakers from the County Fed, Building Trades, OCAW, Harry Bridges Foundation and especially to everyone who contributed their time and made the committment to be present. We figure this was the biggest joint Harbor/LA union demo in our recent history and will help strengthen our cross border alliances between LA and the harbor.
We picketed outside the Century Towers while the building security panicked and tried to refuse us entry into the building. They told us if we tried to get into the building on private property they would bring in LAPD and arrest all of us. We stood firm and were able to get all 100 of us up to the consulate, chanting MUA Here to stay, no scab labor in LA. One of the more popular chants was about the Australian prime minister, "John Howard, has got to go!" We had to commit to leaving our picket signs and bullhorns outside, but once on the 19th floor inside the Australian Consulate we were loud enough to be heard on the other side of the pacific. We had a drum going, but you could hardly hear it for the chanting.
When we finally delivered the letter to the representative from the Australian government, he told us he would personnaly make sure that Prime Minister John Howard and the Australian Industrial Relations Minister would receive the letter immediately. On our way out of the consulate, we ended up having a long discussion with the Australian govt representative about Harry Bridges, and why we are so proud of him, how the American govt tried so many times to deport him back to Australian, but the American workers would not let it happen,and how Harry's spirit was in the room at the moment...He was proud that Harry was an Australian, but needless to say we made it clear that we were even prouder of him and that he was ours, and it was our day.
We had extensive television coverage from Channel 7 and the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but as usual the US media did a no show even though they told us they were coming, which is more than they usually do. We did manage a Pacifica radio interview, and there were photographers present.
Remember, still keep alert for notices that we need people down at the harbor, there are still some scab ships out in the ocean and the dispute in Australia is not settled.
Phone: 310 827 2117
Marina Del Rey, CA 90295
Fax: 310 822 0561
Phone: 310 827 2117
The union members delivered a letter condemning the treatment of dock workers in Australia.
Protest organiser Teresa Conrow says until the MUA reaches an agreement with the Australian Government over waterfront reform, workers in the US will continue to hold public protests.
The same community group that organised the demonstration was responsible for the blackbanning of the ship, Columbus Canada, that was forced to leave LA last month without unloading a single container from Australia.
The ship had been stevedored in Australia by non-union labour during the height of the waterfront dispute.