EDITOR’S NOTE:This piece appears in the March 27, 2006, issue of National Review.
International Longshore and
Warehouse Union Grievance Committee
ILWU Local 1339 vs. Dubai Ports World
Q: Can you tell us which events led to the work stoppage?
A: Yeah, totally. Okay, so there was me and Rudy, okay, and we were on our second 15 –
Q: Those are your breaks, right?
A: Right, right. We get twelve 15-minute breaks per shift, unless we’re on overtime or premium overtime, in which case we get less breaks but they got to add some personal days to the bank. Unless we’re only doing modified overtime, and then it’s like regular flextime when it’s up to the shop steward how we do breaks and stuff. Unless it’s a weekend. If it’s a weekend, then the union rep has to meet with the steward and decide how to handle the downside hours and whether to use Rule 19 for part of the shift, which is great for me ’cause I got kids and our last contract says I can apply those hours but Rudy’s got elderly parents so Rule 19’s pretty much the last thing he needs during flextime weekends. Unless he goes permanent flextime, which I think he’s thinking about –
Q: If I could just break in here. In the interest of speed. So you’re on break?
A: Yeah, yeah. Just having a smoke and an Entenmann’s and leaning against one of the containers that we just lifted off a ship, right? Just sort of leaning against the container, smokin’ and jokin’, when this guy, the dock manager, Ahmet or Mehmet or something, comes up and he’s all p.o.’ed about something and telling us to move away from that specific container, right? Like it’s a special container or something? And remember, these containers, they’re just off the boat, no seals on ‘em, no inspections, nothing. Just right off the boat from . . . um . . . I’m gonna say Sudan? Somewhere? Sudan? Yeah, I think. Anyway. So we’re leaning up against it with our Kools and our raspberry swirl and Mehmet is going on and on and on about how we got to move and how he’s got to open that container himself and suddenly Rudy gets upset, ’cause, I mean, that’s his job, right? He’s the associate lead stevedore — I mean, we got all these clear jobs in our last contract go around, you know? — and suddenly Rudy’s all angry and saying, “You think you’re gonna open this, bud? Got a news flash for you. You touch this container and Local 1339 is gonna shut this place down!” And Ahmet or Mehmet just starts yelling and yelling about how he’s the boss and this is a special container and we’re not supposed to touch it or open it or eat our Entenmann’s near it, and so Rudy just snaps, you know? He calls the shop steward and the local rep and so we shut the place down for the day.
Q: And when did the FBI come and discover the nuclear device in the container?
A: Like the next day, I think. Or maybe it was a few days? But the point is, in our last contract we got strict rules about who opens what and when, and those guys need to learn that Local 1339 is not going to roll, okay?
Q: Were you aware that there was a nuclear device in the container?
A: What? No. Hey, you’re not listening. Listen, what are you guys going to do about enforcing the work-designation rules? This stuff is important. Can I smoke in here?
Q: Could you tell us about the events that led up to the discovery of the sarin gas canisters?
A: The what?
Q: The sarin gas. When the port was shut down.
A: Oh, you mean my injury?…
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