ILWU leaves AFL-CIO
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) on Aug. 29 ended its affiliation with the AFL-CIO. The action comes less than year after the ILWU joined with five other unions to form the Maritime Labor Alliance.
The newly established Alliance includes the ILWU, the American Radio Association, Inlandboatmen’s Union, the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA), the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots (MM&P), and the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA).
MM&P President Don Marcus is president of the Alliance, and MEBA President Mike Jewell is secretary-treasurer.
In a letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka dated Aug. 29, 2013, ILWU President Robert McEllrath cited jurisdictional disputes as part of the reason for disaffiliating. McEllrath was particularly upset by the AFL-CIO’s decision to stay out of a conflict his union had with Operating Engineers at EGT grain terminal in Longview, Washington. But McEllrath also criticized the AFL-CIO for “overly compromising positions” on a path to legalizing immigrants, on letting the health care revision law tax high-value health insurance plans, and on allowing immigrant visas to benefit corporations.
The ILWU represents 50,000 workers on the docks and in other industries in Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii, and Panama. It has roots with the old Wobblies (International Workers of the World), and was an early affiliate of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). In 1950, the ILWU and 10 other unions were kicked out of the CIO for allegedly being led by communists. It wasn’t until 1988 that the ILWU joined the merged AFL-CIO.