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Judge Dismisses Some Neptune Jade Cases

Text of a Leaflet issued March 22, 1998

After a militant February 26 labor rally and march in downtown Oakland and again on the March 3 hearing date in front of the courthouse, California Superior Court Judge Henry Needham, Jr. decided on March 10 to dismiss two suits brought by the Pacific Maritime Association, an agency representing global shipowning conglomerates, against the San Francisco chapter of the Labor Party and ILWU Local 10 Executive Board member Jack Heyman. The judge dismissed these suits because they were directed against constitutionally protected free speech acts.


However, the motion to dismiss the suit against Neptune Jade picket captain Robert Irminger was denied. The defense has been informed by PMA attorneys that they are intent on pursuing their witchhunting tactics in the upcoming discovery phase of the trial in which they will insist that those testifying "name names."

Furthermore, PMA has threatened to file suits against ILWU Local 10 Business Agent Henry Graham and three individuals who testified on Robert's behalf in November at his Contempt of Court hearing. There are also potential suits against the Laney College Labor Studies Club and the Peace and Freedom Party. Ominously, a federal lawsuit continues against ILWU Locals 10 and 34 seeking a permanent injunction to compel them to cross any and all solidarity picket lines at Yusen Terminals, site of the picketing. All these suits are related to the September/October solidarity action in the port of Oakland in support of the then-ongoing Liverpool dockers' dispute.

What the picketers did is not only defensible, expressing international solidarity through picket action, but commendable. The list of prominent endorsers of our defense campaign continues to grow and now includes Delores Huerta of the United Farmworkers and Jesse Jackson. The February 26 rally in front of PMA's Oakland headquarters heard speeches from two Liverpool dockers, Bobby Morton and Tony Nelson, ILWU and Bay Area union officers, retired veterans of past ILWU battles, Tony Mazzocchi, National Organizer of the Labor Party, Jerry Brown and Ignacio De La Fuente, leading candidates in the Oakland mayoral race and left journalist Alexander Cockburn. Demanding all the PMA suits be dropped along with its attendant witchhunt, some 700-strong union protesters then took to the streets en masse despite police warnings against any march without a permit and payment to police of overtime amounting to thousands of dollars. With contingents of longshore workers from ports along the West Coast, as well as teamsters, sailors, marine firemen and many other unions, the protestors were not about to be denied their free speech rights while defending those of other workers.


Our defense campaign will not stop until all charges are dropped against all individuals and organizations. Irminger is being targeted because he is Chairman (second highest official) of the San Francisco Region of the Inlandboatmen's Union, marine division of the ILWU. ILWU International President Brian McWilliams, in his press release of March11, 1998, McWilliams demanded the PMA drop all its Neptune Jade lawsuits, "Until then the PMA will face ever escalating actions by the ILWU and the national and international labor movement."


As the Liverpool Dockers Defense Committee prepares for the next phase of this critical defense campaign, we maintain that justice won't be won in capital's courts but in the streets and at the point of production, or more specifically at the point of transport. We need you, your union or workers' organization to participate and make this a complete victory for workers around the world by passing resolutions of support, making financial donations and organizing your ranks. "An injury to one is an injury to all."