"The economy is us. It is made out of us, whether we are employed or not. If we want to influence the economy there are two basic strategies. We can put down our tools at work, or get in the way of the economy. Both are non-violent, and both can be crippling when co-ordinated with others. There is lots of room to choose how you want to be involved. When we throw enough sand in the gears of the economy, the men who have devised privatization and deregulation, the CEOs and boys on Wall St and Bay St., will force a change to the government it sees as a liability. The corresponding part of organizing ourselves as a force that can demand all we need from the economy is organizing our own directly-democratic, supportive institutions. But that, as they say, is another story." Highway 401 Ontario Caravan
We can shut down corporate power by blockading freight lines and seaports and interrupting just-in-time manufacturing. Each day of the blockade would cost the worlds largest corporations billions of dollars. In an effort to stop the destruction of the Pilalt Territory outside of Agassiz, B.C., members and elders of the Cheam First Nation have erected a blockade of the CN Railway line.
We are under attack by the corporations and their governments. They are bring us global warming, preemptive wars and cuts in all areas of social welfare. If we don't act soon it will be too late. We deserve healthcare, education, housing, food, living wages, an end to war profiteering and the respect of our unique cultures. How can we encourage the global corporations to share their profits and respect our rights? One possibility is a campaign of non-violent blockades of railways and seaports. Each region could organize affinity groups that could meet in spokes councils to organize the most democratic direct action. One affinity group might focus on taking up the spikes while an other has giant puppets dancing across the tracks. Imagine blockades on the six major transcontinental rail lines and all the west coast ports. The corporations would lose billions of dollars each day of the blockade. This might give corporate leaders a reason to address the needs of the people.
The primary elements of just-in-time manufacturing include having only the required inventory when needed; to improve quality to zero defects; to reduce lead time by reducing setup times, queue lengths and lot sizes; to incrementally revise the operations themselves; and to accomplish these things at minimum cost.
A Blockage could cost the corporations billions a day. BIFA put the cost of a Channel blockade to UK haulage firms alone at about £1m to £1.5m per day, a figure backed by other freight associations.
According to the National Retail Federation, West Coast ports handle about $300 billion worth of goods a year, or roughly 50 percent of the shipping cargo to and from the United States.As the closure of 29 ports from San Diego to Seattle tightened its week-long chokehold on the U.S. economy Monday, President Bush moved to reopening the ports by creating a special board of inquiry. The board, established hours after contract negotiations between workers and management collapsed, has one day to report back to the White House on impact of a labor dispute that has brought shipping trade to a virtual halt and cost economy an estimated $2 billion a day.
In an age where companies pride themselves with the efficient use of a just-in-time manufacturing and delivery process, the slightest hitch can have a ripple effect. In addition to the port closures, tech companies in the past have had to contend with disruptions caused by fires and earthquakes.
"Companies that rely on just-in-time are the ones most vulnerable to the ports closure," said Jin Whang, a Stanford University professor and co-director of the university's Global Supply Chain Forum. "To make just-in-time work, you need to make several assumptions, such as, all your supply line will move smoothly."
Economists and political leaders voiced fears that a long shutdown of the ports, which handle $300 billion in cargo a year, could hurt a broad swath of businesses. Retailers complained that the shutdown would make it hard to stock shelves for the holiday season, auto
dealers said they might soon run out of some popular Japanese cars, and farmers said fresh produce meant for export would soon rot.
"Obviously, this is a major economic disaster for U.S. importers and exporters that represent a substantial portion of the nation's economy," said Robin Lanier, executive director of the West Coast Waterfront Coalition, a group that includes Wal-Mart, Kmart, Toyota
and dozens of other major importers. "This shutdown is having an immediate impact. We are at the brink of an assembly line shutdown in various places."
One idea discussed in Cancun at the WTO protest was to organize a one day of blockade to show how serious we are about resisting corporate domination. Than we could try a week long blockade and work towards longer actions. We talked about communicating with the longshoreman's and rail unions to let them know why we intend to halt Just-In-Time manufacturing. We should feed and help workers if they are effected by the blockade. The blockade of the Port of Oakland showed just how intense the response might be. Two activists who were took part in the blockade in Oakland were still very enthusiastic about this idea. We also considered having signs five miles ahead of the blockade alerting the engineers of track disruption and that blockades could be near the yards so the trains are already slow. We would need legal support, food, water and medics. These ideas could be proposed at all coalition meetings organizing against corporate power and for the creation of a democratic society
Delegates to the WTO spoke o f the importance of our street protests in ending the trade organization. Our success against the WTO and the courage of Lee in killing himself in protest to the globalization of the economy inspired us to consider stronger action. It seems clear that if we don't take the risk we may be doomed to a future of environmental and economic slavery
MAPS of Great
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Around the World
BNSF Freight Rail Map
CN Freight Rail Map