In late September of this year, the SS Neptune Jade, owned by the Singapore-based Neptune Orient Lines and carrying some 160 containers, slowly pulled into the Port of Oakland, California. A picket line of longshore workers and labor and human rights activists greeted the ship. Also on the line was a student from Laney College, a local community college, carrying the colorful banner of the Laney College Labor Studies Club.
The problem, the picketers said, was that the SS Neptune Jade was carrying cargo that involved a union-busting company which has locked out some 500 dockers in Liverpool, England, for the last two years.
Seeing the picket, the longshore workers — members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union — refused to cross the line and unload the SS Neptune Jade. The ship sat in the harbor for three days before sailing to Vancouver, Canada. Workers there also refused to unload it, and so the ship then went to Yokohama, Japan, where it was again refused. The ship was finally sold to China.
The action was hailed by Representative Ron Dellums as placing “a square focus on the new economic battle lines in which global corporate alliances seek to use their transnational economic and political power to divide and defeat organized labor and collective bargaining.”
But that’s not the end of the story.
- Albert Lannon, the chair and coordinator of the Labor Studies Department at Laney College, a community college in Oakland, California.
- Jack Heyman,an executive board member of Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in San Francisco.
- Robert Irminger,of the Inland Boatman’s Union in San Francisco.