Longshore union leader denounces Occupy Vancouver port protest

The president of a longshore-workers union says he does not support Occupy Vancouver protesters targeting the downtown Port Metro Vancouver operation.

“We recognize that many of the issues that they’re out there trying to highlight are important issues in our society today,” said Tom Dufresne, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada president.

“But we just don’t think that they should be coming down to shut down the port to protest it,” he told the Straight by phone today (December 12).

Protesters blocked traffic at two port entrances this morning before disbanding, news reports said.

An “Occupy the Ports” rally is planned at noon today in an East Vancouver park. Occupy Vancouver protesters have called for support in “occupying” the Vancouver port.

The focus on the Vancouver port comes as U.S. and Canadian Occupy groups are targeting similar operations along the West Coast.

“In the United States, longshoremen are fighting a long and difficult battle for wages and rights against the global elite,” reads a message on the Occupy Vancouver website.

It continues: “Why should we stand in solidarity with them here in Canada? The answer is simple. The economy is global, and our neighbour’s fate will soon be ours.”

Dufresne questioned whether it makes sense to protest at the Vancouver port, the busiest in Canada.

“We think that they should go off, maybe if they want to protest, go down to Howe Street or Wall Street or Bay Street in Toronto,” Dufresne said.

“But coming down to the ports where they’re going to affect the very people they that say they’re protesting to help is kind of odd.”

The B.C. Trucking Association has also expressed concern about the potential for further protests today at the Vancouver port.

“Our main concern is that they would prevent the entry of trucks that require access to the port facilities in order to conduct business and…if they are slowed down or if they are stopped from accessing the port that it would directly affect the pocket books of many of those owner-operators,” association president Louise Yako told the Straight by phone.




Dec 12, 2011 at 1:21pm

You have to admit that it's amusing to hear the union-elite try to distinguish themselves from the corporate-elite.

Try telling your tale of woe to the growing number of hourly, minimum-wage workers - people who pay for their own health coverage, their own dental coverage, their own pensions, their own holidays ... all on $12 or less.

THAT is the class of workers we need to be concerned about, and it wasn't long ago that the union sector would have supported them wholeheartedly. But now it's more about "me", not "us".

The union movement has been divided and conquered, and that's very sad. The gradual elimination of working-wage jobs will continue, unabated.

Erin Innes

Dec 12, 2011 at 6:38pm

Rank and file union members, as well as nonunion/independent truckers, expressed their thanks and solidarity to Occupy at our blockades today. This is just the beginning!


Dec 12, 2011 at 7:09pm

Longshore union leader >>>NOT!


Dec 14, 2011 at 10:47am

Shutting down ports, especially just prior to Christmas, is a bonehead move and will win the protesters no supporters.