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Chicago Rally to Defend the Charleston Five

Same story as earlier posting with a slight correction. Reposted for the benefit of the techies.
Hal Sutton

Charleston Five/Chicago Rally


page 1

Charles Condon, attorney general of South Carolina, and the principal persecutor of the

Charleston Five, is a close political ally of President Bush, according to Ken Riley, president of

ILA Local 1422. Following an August 17 rally at the Teamsters Local 705 union hall, in which

about 250 trade unionists and activists demonstrated their support for the victimized

longshoremen, Riley mentioned that Condon had served as the Bush for President campaign

manager in South Carolina. Riley also said that the Bush administration had been considering

Condon as the director of the CIA until Condon instead decided to run for governor.

On the basis of his experience in South Carolina, Condon would certainly be qualified to

oversee the subjugation of Third World nations. In his speech at the rally, Riley asserted that

Condon's efforts in the Charleston Five struggle "represent globalization, an attempt to maintain

South Carolina as an attractive Third World alternative to other countries for capital investment."

"They are telling the world to bring its business to South Carolina," Riley elaborated. "'You don't

have to go to Mexico, South America, the Philippines, or Indonesia; we have Third World

conditions right here.'"

"Let me just say that it's good to be back in the United States of America -- and, I'm not

saying that because I've traveled abroad," continued Riley. Riley described South Carolina as a

"very small state" and Charleston as a "very small city," but with the fourth largest port in the

country that boasts a global production record that is "second only to Hong Kong." Riley also

asserted that Charleston has only port on the entire East Coast that exports more cargo than it

imports. "You hear about the trade imbalance that's not the case in South Carolina," contended


In describing the anti-labor political climate in the state, Riley mentioned that organized

labor was largely responsible for the election of a Democratic governor in 1998. When the

governor sought to reward his union supporters by selecting Riley for his transition team, and

then nominating him for the board of the state port authority, "it was met with serious opposition

from the likes of the state Chamber of Commerce and the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance

because it was feared that if the appointment were confirmed, it would send a message to the rest

of the world that South Carolina was now open to labor unions."

Riley said his nomination was defeated, "and, to make sure that such a thing could never

happen again, a bill was introduced in the state House that would make it illegal for a card

carrying member of any union in South Carolina to serve on any state board, agency or

commission -- and, if you were already on one, you would have to resign." Riley said the bill was

approved by the House, defeated in the Senate, and has been reintroduced in the present session,

where it was again approved by the House, and has been sent to the floor of the Senate for


Riley asserted that the struggle of the Charleston Five "is a political statement, a political

attack against Local 1422 and the ILA, because in every labor struggle that has been won in

South Carolina, the ILA was there." He contended that the ship that was the target of the ILA

pickets was originally scheduled to come into Charleston on the same day as a massive rally in

Columbia, South Carolina, to oppose the use of the Confederate flag at official state facilities.

However, he said that because the South Carolina government lacked the coercive resources to

ensure sufficient repression for both confrontations at once, the ship's arrival was delayed for two

days. The rest is history.

It is apparent that the vicious campaign against the Charleston Five is the kind of

treatment that the Bush administration has in mind for workers throughout the U.S. It is equally

clear that the labor movement must immediately prepare to use all measures, such as general

strikes and factory occupations, that are at its disposal -- and some measures that aren't to

defend itself against the imposition of class war. Nobody wins in the race to the bottom.




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