Solidarity with Neptune Jade Defendants


Other useful links:


Informal Report From the Wednesday, July 22nd Neptune Jade Demonstration

About 300 unionists showed up to the "Post Office Court" in Downtown Oakland to protest the Pacific Maratime Association's continued harassment of the ILWU and Neptune Jade picket captain, Robert Irminger. At least 200 of the unionists were Longshoremen from ILWU Local 10 and Ships Clerks from Local 34 who had walked off of the job in protest of the PMA's continued witch hunt.

After a spirited rally, unionists packed the (very small) courtroom. The judge started to offer the defendants a deal where some sort of independant party would review ILWU records and select which documents would be "appropriate" for PMA review. However, the defense's legal team reminded the judge that legal precedent allows the ILWU to reject such a provision. The result: The PMA has been denied their motion to compel for the time being. There will be another court-date sometime in August. Exact dates will be posted in the future.

The legal team seemed optimistic that the ILWU would win this based on First Amendment grounds.

Source: A-INFOS 23 Jul 98

A further report by Ellen Starbird is available on Labournet


Defend RobertIrminger!
Stop the Neptune Jade witch-hunt!
Support The ILWU At The Court House

Wed July 22, 1998 9:00AM
US Post Office & Court
13th And Jackson St. Dep 81, 2nd Floor
Oakland, CA


A battle is looming on Oakland's waterfront that may become a defining moment for labor in the global economy. The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents international shipowners and stevedore companies, is suing individuals and organizations for picketing a containership, the Neptune Jade, with scab cargo from England. For four days last September, longshore workers refused to cross the picket line. This exemplary action was part of an international solidarity campaign with 500 Liverpool dockers who'd been fired in 1995, the last port to survive then-British Prime Minister Thatcher's 1989 union-bashing ax.

Not one container was handled in Oakland! The Neptune Jade then sailed to Vancouver, Canada, where pickets and longshoremen gave her the same 'solidarity' treatment. The shipowner then sought a port in the Pacific to unload the cargo. Attempts were made to discharge the containers in two ports in Japan, Kobe and Yokohama. But the Japanese dockworkers, strong supporters of the Liverpool dockers' struggle, stood fast. Finally, this 'Flying Dutchman' was sent to Taiwan where the ship was sold, renamed, and its cargo discharged.

On February 26, the Liverpool Dockers' Defense Committee and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union organized a rally in front of PMA headquarters in downtown Oakland. The 700-strong union protesters then marched to the courthouse to demand the charges be dropped against all the defendants. ILWU International President Brian McWilliams has pledged, Until then the PMA will face ever-escalating actions by the ILWU and the national and international labor movement.

The judge has already dismissed cases against some of the defendants, citing their right to free speech. However, Robert Irminger, picket captain, is still facing a vindictive PMA lawsuit. The PMA has threatened to file suits against others whose names they have. To bolster their discovery claims against Irminger, where they demand the names of other pickets as well as all union and political affiliations, they subpoenaed documents from the ILWU relating to the picket. The ILWU refused to look for them, so the bosses then filed a motion to compel. They are trying to force the union to turn over whatever documents they may have. The hearing will be July 22 at the U.S. Post Office & Court in Oakland. Irminger has until mid-August to respond to the latest discovery. A hearing on this is likely later this summer or early fall.

This defense case poses such critical issues for the survival of the labor movement in a global economy that we have been able to enlist the support from the broadest sections of organized labor from Dolores Huerta of the Farmworkers to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney to maritime unions around the world.

To make this defense campaign a complete victory for all of labor we need you and your union¹s support.

The Neptune Jade Defense Committee is calling on all unionists and supporters in the San Francisco Bay Area to attend the court hearing in solidarity with the ILWU and against this legal attack on the right to free speech and to picket in solidarity with workers around the world.

Statements of support can also be sent to the Committee by email c/o Robert Irminger at <>.

For further information about the Neptune Jade struggle please go to

The Neptune Jade Defense Committee can be reached at

Neptune Jade Defense Committee
P.O.Box 2574
Oakland, CA 94614


A-INFOS 15/7/98



Whereas, the California Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO has always resisted attacks on organized labor's freedom of association, its First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly, the right to picket and honor picket lines and the right to act in solidarity for social justice and workers' rights, and

Whereas, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has consistently held high labor's banner, "An injury to one is an injury to all" implementing this basic labor principle, by supporting oppressed workers internationally, whether under the gun of South African apartheid or the right-wing military dictatorships of Chile and El Salvador; and

Whereas, presently the ILWU is currently under legal attack from the Pacific Maritime Association, the employer organization representing global shipowners and stevedoring companies, because longshore workers here in the port of Oakland refused last year to cross a picket line of labor activists (against the containership Neptune Jade with scab cargo from England) in support of the Liverpool dockworkers, themselves waging an international struggle against unionbusting, and

Whereas, before the court hearing the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO passed a resolution in support of the Neptune Jade defendants, and

Whereas, the California Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO helped turn out Bay Area organized labor turned out in force in downtown Oakland on February 26, 1998 to demand the charges be dropped and to protest the PMA's strategy of harassment and intimidation, using McCarthyite tactics to demand defendants "name names" of individuals and unions involved in the protest, and

Whereas, in the wake of this mass labor demonstration Judge Henry Needham Jr., on March 4, dismissed the charges against all but picket captain Robert Irminger, citing their right to exercise the First Amendment, and

Whereas, the PMA, intent on halting future ILWU actions of international labor solidarity and as part of a campaign by global maritime employers to break dockworkers unions around the world has raised the ante, adding new plaintiffs and going to court on July 22, 1998, to compel the ILWU International and ILWU Locals 10 and 34 to turn over internal union documents to gather evidence against Irminger and other possible defendants,

Therefore be it resolved that the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO condemns PMA's anti-union attack and its witch hunt tactics with the full weight of the organized labor movement and demands that this case be dropped once and for all and be it finally

Resolved that the California Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO reaffirms its support of workers' First Amendment rights and the right to picket and honor picket lines in solidarity with other workers.

Email to Takver 15/7/98


Solidarity from Germany

From: Flora Tristan <>
Our fellow workers in Germany are doing a solidarity action, with us in mind. Thanks to Folkert for passing this good news on. I've done an on-the-fly commentary here. I don't have a dictionary next to me.

Abolish wage-slavery; organize One Big Democratic Classwide Union.

Deutsh English Commentary
Subject: Soli-Aktion gegen Hapag Lloyd Solidarity action against Hapag Lloyd
Solidarität mit den angeklagten Dockern der Neptun Jade-Streikposten, Oakland/USA Flugblätter gegen Hapag Lloyd am 22. Juli 1998 Solidarity with the accused docker/picketers at the Neptune Jade demo. Leaflet directed against Hapag Lloyd--July 22, 1998
Die OG Hamburg wird am kommenden Mittwoch, dem 22.7.98 von 7.30 bis 9 Uhr vor der Hauptfiliale des maritimen Konzerns Hapag LLoyd (gehört mittlerweile der Westdeutschen Landesbank) Flugblätter zur Solidarität mit angeklagten Streikposten der ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union - Dockergewerkschaft der USA) aus Oakland verteilen, deren Prozeß am 22.7. um 9 Uhr in Oakland beginnt. I'm not sure what the OG is; but it may be something like the area unions of Hamburg. Well, they're going to be out in front of the Hpag LLoyd maritime corporation headquarters (Hapag LLoyd belongs to a bank called the Westdeutschen blah blah) passing out leaflets in support of the accused picketers of the ILWU because these fellow workers trial for solidarity begins that day at 9am in Oakland.
Die Hapag LLoyd ist eine der Container-Schiffahrtsgesellschaften, die Docker vor Gericht zerren wollen, weil sie aus Solidarität mit den damals streikenden Liverpoolern der Mersey Dock & Harbour Company das Containerschiff ,Neptun Jade' am 28. September 1997 blockierten und deren Entladung verhinderten. Hapag LLoyd is one of the container ship corporations responsible for dragging our fellow workers in to court for their solidarity actions on September 28, 1997 when they effectively stopped the unloading of the Jade's cargo.
Die Pacific Martime Association und auch die Hapag Lloyd wollen nun -im Zuge einer richtigen Hexenjagd- die ILWU gerichtlich zwingen, alle relevanten Dokumente herauszugeben. U.a. der IWW-Delegierte Rod Neves sollen Namen der Beteiligten ausplaudern: "Identify all persons, associations, and organizations known to you who participated in one or more of the demonstrations at Yusen Terminal, Berth 23, Port of Oakland ... Identify all labor organisations in which you are or have been a member or with which you are or have been in any way affiliated", außerdem sollen Kopien der mailing lists aller beteiligten Organisationen rausgerückt werden.

McCarthy läßt also schön grüßen!

This is essentially a condemnation of the witch hunt being conducted by the PMA and its associated Corps, which seeks to indimidate the ILWU and others, including our erstwhile IWW delegate, Rod Neves, into naming names of people and orgs who attended the solidarity picket. McCarthyism is rearing its ugly head.
Wir werden bis Sonntagabend ein Flugblatt erstellen, in dem wir die Hapag Lloyd-Zentrale auffordern, diese ungeheuerliche Attacke gegen die Kollegen und Genossen zurückzunehmen. They, mostly the FAU, are going to pass out leaflets 'till Sunday night demanding that Hapag Lloyd Bosses cease these monsterous attacks on our fellow workers and comrades and drop the charges.
Welche OG ebenfalls Fluchblätter verteilen möchte, möge uns eine Fax- Nummer mitteilen, damit wir eine Kopiervorlage rübersenden können. Hapag Lloyd gibt's fast überall, wichtig wäre aber sicherlich, in Bremen/Bremerhaven aktiv zu werden. This basically is a call to all the area's unions, which wish to add their orgs names to the leaflet to send a fax number to the Hamburg FAU. "H L" is basically everywhere; but it is especially important to get the fw's from Bremen involved. Bremen, like Hamburg, is a big port town.
Solidarität hat keine Grenzen: Solidarity doesn't have any borders:
Quellen: Soli-Aufruf der IWW, email vom 14.7.98 (Liam Flynn)
Industrial Worker, IWW-Zeitung, Januar 1998, Seite 1
ILWU im internet:
Here, the FAU lists the people, lit etc. from which calls for solidarity were issued.

Email to Takver 16/7/98

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