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Support the Charleston Five!

by DAVID COURTENAY-QUIRK | May 25, 2001 | Page 15

CHARLESTON, S.C.--The struggle to defend the Charleston Five is heating up in South Carolina. South Carolina Attorney General Charles Condon broke off negotiations with the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA), saying that the five dockworkers would only get "jail, jail and more jail."

Five members of ILA Locals 1422 and 1771, who are currently under house arrest, are facing prison and fines for participating in a peaceful picket last year that was attacked by 600 riot police using tear gas, helicopters, speed boats and attack dogs.

In response, the Campaign for Workers' Rights, which is coordinating the Charleston Five's defense, ILA locals in Charleston and the South Carolina AFL-CIO have called for a major demonstration in Columbia on June 9 to demand that all charges be dropped.

Unionists and other activists are planning to mobilize from throughout the Southeast, coming from as far away as New Orleans. Rev. Jesse Jackson and the AFL-CIO's Linda Chavez-Thompson are expected to attend. As part of the demonstration, ILA Local 1422 President Kenneth Riley has promised to shut down the Port of Charleston, the fourth-largest port in the country.

Condon, who is running for governor, has made it clear that he believes unions have no place in South Carolina and wants to strengthen the state's anti-union right-to-work laws. The state legislature even passed an "Anti-Living Wage Bill" prohibiting minimum wages that are higher than the federal minimum wage.

On June 9, we all need to be in Columbia to tell Condon and the other anti-union politicians in South Carolina that we won't let the Charleston Five go to jail for standing up for their rights and the rights of all workers in the South.

As the old slogan goes, "An injury to one is an injury to all!"

For more information, contact the Campaign for Workers' Rights at 888-716-7362.

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