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My Council office is in full solidarity with Foss Shipyard workers fighting a vicious employer attack on their pension

Dec. 15, 2020

Dear union shipyard workers at Foss Maritime:

As a rank and file union member, elected Seattle City Councilmember, and member of Socialist Alternative, I offer my full solidarity and support to you in fighting the shameful attack on your union pension trust by Foss Maritime Shipyard. 

Your fight is a fight for all workers in the shipyard industry, and indeed for all workers in our region. It is vital that you retain your pensions, because an injury to one is an injury to all. As rank-and-file Boilermaker Dave Lindschmidt noted when he first reached out to our office, losing your pension “would weaken the future security of not only each Foss union employee and their families, but weaken the pension of the region’s Union Machinists, Pipe Fitters, and Boilermakers as other shipyards will follow suit in this demand.” 

The company’s explanation for this attack on workers’ pension is that they need the “financial flexibility” to be more profitable. They say this even though Saltchuk Marine is already part of one of the largest private companies in the US, with annual revenues of $2.6 billion. This is an example of the logic of the capitalist system, with its insatiable drive for profits for a few at the cost of the living standards of the rest. As you have correctly informed my office, the company is doing this in an attempt to gut the union and the workers’ futures, and hire independent contractors at a fraction of the cost and liability. It would also give them the ability to padlock the gates tomorrow, and declare the shipyard closed and/or a non-union workplace with no financial repercussions to them.

We have seen time and time again how under capitalism, bosses and the wealthy use recessions and crises to further exploit workers and attack labor unions. It is no coincidence that Foss is using this moment – when working people are reeling from unprecedented job and income losses due to the pandemic and the deep recession – to ruthlessly go after your pension in an attempt to gut the unionized workplace itself.

My office and my organization, Socialist Alternative, stand with you every step of the way in this fight. We are heartened to hear about the strong solidarity and determination among your members. Stay strong!

Please distribute this letter, along with one I am sending today to Jason Childs, the president and CEO of Saltchuk Marine, and which I’ve attached here, to all of the shipyard union members. 

Additionally, my Council office stands ready to support you in your fight, with public rallies and other actions that you deem necessary. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office, and specifically Jonathan Rosenblum on my staff (206-257-3508; jonathan.rosenblum@seattle.gov).

In solidarity, 

Kshama Sawant

Seattle City Council

Member, American Federation of Teachers 1789

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