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 | 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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