Letters to the Editor

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UNION: Wages reflect value labor brings

Letter by K.C. Bacon, Tacoma on Sep. 9, 2011 at 12:49 pm with 15 Comments »
September 9, 2011 1:25 pm

As one who has spent 35 years in the stevedoring business, managing ILWU labor on behalf of shippers, I was disappointed by the thinness of economic rationale in your editorial, “Strange sympathy for Longshore lawlessness” (TNT, 9-9).

I doubt you meant it as such, but your pause – “hold your breath” – prior to detailing ILWU earnings leans a bit to the snide side when you overlook the fact that longshoring is both dangerous work and essentially day labor. Members work at the whim of ship schedules and must take work as it comes or not at all. To present them as being paid “like royalty” is simply rude.

Fair wages are a consequence of the underlying value labor brings. A bad baseball player or an idiotic talking head on cable news undoubtedly makes more than an average ILWU member, but I doubt very much they bring as much value to their communities.

Fair wages are a function of trade, not envy. Since 1934, the ILWU has effectively judged workers’ fair value in a crucial marketplace and bargained for wages and working conditions accordingly. Be assured, the wages that you find so appalling were not simply given to them by fools.

We all are concerned about the current turmoil in Longview and trust those brighter minds at EGT, the terminal operator, will seek common ground with the ILWU at the bargaining table. That is where this dispute should end, not by flinging rocks or insults across the railroad tracks or in the newspapers.

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Leave a comment Comments → 15
  1. Seriously? Maybe the morons that are destroying private property, trespassing, kidnapping and assaulting security guards, etc. will pull their heads out of their rears. EGT is not obligated to deal with the ILWU-it was deleted from their contract. These thugs need to be prosecuted and smacked down like the whining babies they are….

  2. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:



  3. harleyrider1 says:

    K.C. – you’re perspective of 1934 is showing. You’re right, but you were right in the 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s but now we have labor laws in place and a federal law regarding minimum wage and over time.

    We no longer need to pay gangsters like Jimmy Hoffa 18% of every check to keep our job. Those days of blackmail, join the union or you can’t work here should end.

    Forcing employees at Ford to strike when they are happy just to have a job and there are hundreds of thousands of Americans that want those very jobs is ridiculous. Ford is the only company that refused Obama’s demands for taxpayer’s dollars. Ford brought itself back and what is our response?

    The unions can continue to leech money from business until it sends jobs out of the country or even closes down. They could do that many, many years ago when America had plenty of businesses. However, what purpose does that achieve now?

    As Americans we recognize that unions played a role; but they no longer do. Now, paying gangsters 18% of every check and allowing them to force businesses to close has become un-American.

  4. Day labor? That may be true of those just getting their union card. It is however, adisinformation when one considers that an A-man makes well over six figures a year. Day labor, hardly!
    The truth is that these largely uneducated, overpaid royalty are paid their wages at OUR expense. Theri extravagent wage scale makes everything going through the ports of the US more expensive.
    Want to boost the US economy? Mechanize port operations to the max and get the ILWU out!

  5. steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    OK, yeah, fair wages….for guys who get jobs with HS degrees because they were born tnto the union families. Ooooh, that’s fair! $200 grand for a glorified steveadore vs $45 thou for a Tacoma schoool tearcher, yep, fair.

  6. smrichmond says:

    harleyrider1 , all of those “benefits” you spoke of came about through labor movements, and your mention of “grateful to have a job” speaks of why unions are still necessary. Do we want to return to the days of working for very little in dangerous conditions because someone more desperate might do it for less? Do we want to give up 4-hour work-weeks? What you and other anti-union writers are advocating is a return to the Guilded Age where abuses gave rise to the unions in the first place. For myself, I do not want to return to the days of child labor and sweatshop conditions. Let’s progress, shall we?

  7. Let’s progress? We have…it’s the unions that haven’t and that especially true of the ILWU.

  8. concernedtacoma7 says:

    The judicial system has done more for worker safety than unions. Why are most safety precautions in place? To not get sued.

    The unions did not ride in a white horse and safe the average worker from a life of misery and pain. Your history is fiction.

    “grateful to have a job” speaks of why unions are still necessary.”- Unions have nothing to do with employment rates in free society. Demand for labor drives employment, not unions.

  9. I’ll be happy to see the last ILWU job be handed over to some Mexican for $8.00 an hour. It’s way past time to bust that bunch of leeches.

  10. “These thugs need to be prosecuted and smacked down like the whining babies they are…. ”

    Sort of like the TEA Party that ruined Town Hall Meetings and did damage to Democratic offices?

  11. “frosty says:
    September 11, 2011 at 10:39 am
    I’ll be happy to see the last ILWU job be handed over to some Mexican for $8.00 an hour. It’s way past time to bust that bunch of leeches.”

    Either frosty is a racist or a proponent of illegal labor…..take your pick.

  12. “The truth is that these largely uneducated, overpaid royalty are paid their wages at OUR expense.”

    But when a CEO makes 20 times as much as a longshoreman and never gets his hands dirty…..he earned every penny of it………::::eyeroll::::::

    Take George W. Bush as an example. You know how hard he worked for all his managerial positions.

  13. karnos – I could ask you why frosty’s post is racist but better yet, why would you assume that frosty meant “illegal labor” when he simply said “some Mexican”

    hmmmm, who has the racist thoughts here I ask???

  14. EGT contracted with an opeating engineer union to operate the port. Are ILWU members more qualified or is terminal operation the private territory of the ILWU? I am confused . . .

  15. KARDNOS, as with all leftists, have this hangup about what racism is. If anyone mentions someones ethnicity, he’s a racist, but if you insist on giving them a monthly pittance in order to keep them on the farm, you’re a “humanitarian”. Again, twisted logic of the liberal brain.

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