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On Worker's Day Wobblies and Truckers Come Together

Started by CL Admin, May 07, 2007, 12:44:19 am

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IWW organizer Billy Randall likened the contractual situation of the owner-operators to the sharecropping system that existed in the south: “The drivers are identified legally as independent owner-operators. This prevents them, as ‘independent businessmen’, from joining a union and negotiating rate changes and their benefits. We intend to challenge that.”



Brothers and Sisters,

In the interest of truth and accuarcy, let's review just who this Jose Gilberto Soto guy is! When you review the evidence, you'll no doubt be curious as to WHY the IWW would link itself to this sordid misogynist individual.

Let's also review the IWW's actual role in port trucker unionism.


INDUSTRIAL WIFEBEATERS OF THE WORLD??? or, why would the IWW name it's New Jersey truck drivers union hall after domestic violence offender Jose Gilbeto Soto?

On May Day 2007, the Industrial Workers of the World opened a port truckers driver education and organizing center in Elizabeth, New Jersey, near the Port Authority of NY/NJ's huge Port Newark/Port Elizabeth complex.

On the face of it, this is a great thing.

The nation's 50,000 port truckers were betrayed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters back in 1973, when IBT General President Frank Fitzsimmons let sea freight hauling companies deunionize their operations and force their drivers to buy their trucks as a condition of continued non union employment.

For the last 15 years, those drivers have TRIED to get back in the Teamsters, and the IBT has done little to help them.

The Teamsters actually SCABBED on the April 2004 California port truckers strike - as did the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

For the record, those drivers actually tried to affiliate their independent union, the Intermodal Truckers Union, with the IWW during the strike - and the IWW turned them down flat, and publicly disassociated the IWW from their brave and militant strike!

It's about damned time that SOMEBODY in the labor movement tried to help these hard working Latino immigrant drivers rejoin the house of labor, after 34 years of sellout after sellout after sellout!

There's only one little problem with this present IWW effort in New Jersey.

The IWW named it's new union hall after one Jose Gilberto Soto, the deceased president of New Jersey Teamsters local 11.

Soto, until his murder in his hometown of Usulutan, El Salvador 2 years ago, was one of the Teamsters Port Department organizers who was making a feeble attempt to unionize the nation's sea freight drivers.

Jose Gilberto Soto was also a wifebeater.

Shortly before his last trip to El Salvador, his wife fled their home, in fear of her life, after many years of systematic abuse.

Soto went on his organizing trip despite the collapse of his marriage.

But, then again, there are some serious questions about Soto's last trip.

While in El Salvador, rather than staying in La Union, El Salvador's only seaport, where he was supposed to be helping the port truckers who served Maersk Lines piers organize a union, he stayed in his hometown, Usulutan, almost 40 miles from the Maersk piers.

Well informed observers of American unionism might be tempted to think that Soto used this organizing trip as a cover for a personal vacation to see his relatives, some of whom he had not seen since he came to this country in 1975.

After all, Soto wouldn't be the first Teamster boss to use union funds to pay for a personal trip!!!

Also, in light of the disintegration of his marriage, Soto may very well have wanted to touch base with his family, to recenter himself and deal with the distress he no doubt felt when his abused wife finally stopped being his personal punching bag and walked away from his fists.

Unfortunately for this domestic violence offender, his wife's family came from Usulutan too.

And in El Salvador, a country where men have a legal right as "head of household" to beat their families, a nation where things like orders of protection and battered women shelters simply do not exist, there is really only one remedy for a woman seeing deliverance from her abusive husband.

Shortly after Soto arrived in his hometown, his wife's mother contacted some young gang members she knew. They called Soto on his cellphone, to lure him outside his mom's house.

When he came out to answer the call, he got hit with a fusilade of gunfire, and Soto bled out in the gutter in front of his family's home.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has CLAIMED, with utterly no evidence, that Maersk was behind this killing.

The Teamsters have tried to paint Soto as a "labor martyr", a latter day Karen Silkwood murdered by a multinational corporation.

This is an odd claim, due to a couple of glaring facts.

Glaring fact number 1, Maersk has not been accused of any armed attacks, or violence of any kind, against any of their pro union drivers in La Union, or any armed attacks against any of the truck drivers union leaders in La Union.

It would be odd that they'd murder a foreign union official, who had little if any involvement with the union organizing drive in La Union, and not go after any of the drivers and drivers union activists at the port.

Glaring fact number 2, Soto's mother-in-law and the 3 gang members have CONFESSED to killing Soto for non labor related reasons.

Admittedly, the Salvadoran Police almost certainly physically tortured and sexually abused the supects - but that doesn't negate the fact that Soto was a wifebeater and he was killed by his wife's relatives.

Since wifebeating is basically legal in El Salvador, the Salvadoran Police detectives' theory of the crime was that they killed Soto for his life insurance. It didn't occur to the cops that the motive might have been avenging the brutalized and terrorized Mrs Soto, and preventing her possible murder by Soto upon his return to the USA.

In any case, the real question for labor activists is, why in the hell would the IWW name a union hall after this woman beating scumbag?

Working class activists, ESPECIALLY those who CLAIM to be revolutionary (a claim that the IWW has been making since 1905) are SUPPOSED to be inverterate opponents of ALL forms of oppression - including domestic violence.

So, it's odd in the extreme that the IWW would in effect embrace a man who's death was caused by his years of domestic abuse of his wife.

Although the IWW's involvement in port trucker activism is worthy of support, especially in light of the IWW's failure to support the April, 2004 California port truckers strike, it's shameful that they would show solidarity with a misogynist thug who's own sexist violence led to his death.

- commentary by GREGORY A. BUTLER, local 608 carpenter,







originally posted May 2, 2007

from NEW YORK CITY INDYMEDIA [http://nyc.indymedia.org]:

May Day May Day!! w/ the IWW

NYC-IWW opens new worker's center in the morning, afternoon in Chinatown

By D

Truck drivers from Ports Elizabeth and Newark, in conjunction with the Industrial Workers of the World union, are set to open a new drivers' education and organizing center in Elizabeth on May 1, 2007, the first of its kind in the nation.

Truck drivers from Ports Elizabeth and Newark, in conjunction with the Industrial Workers of the World union, are set to open a new drivers' education and organizing center in Elizabeth on May 1, 2007, the first of its kind in the nation. The center is being organized to fight for and enforce the rights of rail and port truckers, and is being named in commemoration of Teamster organizer José Gilberto Soto. Soto was assassinated in El Salvador while organizing port truckers there in 2004. -Schedule for the day - 10:00AM-1:00PM: (9:00AM NYC meet-up) Celebrate the opening of the Gilberto Soto Memorial Workers Center in Elizabeth, NJ. For NYC Residents- 9:00AM meet up at the corner of 32nd and 7th to take the train to Elizabeth, NJ for the rally/block party with truck drivers. 2:30PM: March for Workers rights from Chinatown to Union Square. March with Chinese Staff and Workers' Association, Students for a Democratic Society, the IWW, and others to celebrate workers' struggles on May Day. Directions: The march will assemble at the corner of Grand Street and Chryste Street in Chinatown at 2:30PM. The march will commence at 3:00PM and head to Union Square. 4:00PM: Join up with the May First Coalition march for immigrant rights at Union Square.

By D iww.nyc@gmail.com http://www.iww.org