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Letters: Port numbers don't add up

December 07, 2012

Re "Strike numbers are out to sea," Column, Dec. 5

Finally, we read a common-sense counterpoint to the inflated figures bandied about by pro-business forces in an attempt to bulldoze the Obama administration to act against the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and its members.

As Michael Hiltzik points out, you would have to sink all the cargo ships to achieve the $1 billion a day in losses many have incorrectly cited. This is the same drivel that we encountered in 2002 when the employers locked out the ILWU in all the ports of the West Coast.

Beware the pro-business demagogues who repeat phony numbers.

Peter B. Olney

San Francisco

The writer is director of organizing for the ILWU.

What comes to mind is the long 1934 ILWU strike organized by radical left-winger Harry Bridges. There are few jobs that pay such a high wage without a college degree.

Considering that the median household income in the U.S. is around $50,000 a year and non-union employers can fire and hire at will, I disagree with Hiltzik that the port workers couldn't be replaced by "nobodies off the street." With the state unemployment rate as high as it is, perhaps the dock and crane crews could be replaced with construction workers and heavy equipment operators who are out of work.

Michael Richman

Santa Ana

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