Are Longshoremen Really All Worried About Dubai Ports World

So what do longshoremen, the unionized men and women who offload and onload cargo ships at our nation's ports, feel about the Dubai Ports World acquisition of port terminal operations in six U.S. ports? Depends whom you ask.

CNN's Lou Dobbs, long a crusader against the "exporting of America" on his Feb. 28 program presented longshoremen as monolithicly opposed.

DOBBS: The hard-working men and women at our nation's ports
know better than anyone about the dangerous gaps in our nation's port security.
And these workers say unquestionably that the Dubai Ports World deal will leave
our ports more vulnerable to terrorist attack.

Casey Wian reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): More than
100,000 union members work at the nation's ports. Another 55,000 drive trucks
that haul sea-borne freight across the country. They're inherently dangerous
jobs, now with added risks: gaping holes in port security and the proposed deal
to turn over management at several ports to a nation with terrorist ties.

Union leaders are outraged.

JOHN BOWER, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL LONGSHOREMEN'S
ASSOCIATION: The president of the United States tells us to watch out
for terrorists every night. How the hell could he sell these six ports to a
foreign country, especially a foreign country that flew the planes into the
World Trade and killed 3,000 people?

Yes, politically combative union leaders are dead set against it. But neither Dobbs nor Wian reminded viewers that labor unions have long been critical of the Bush administration and aligned with liberal Democrats. But individual longshoremen sometimes stray from the party line, reported the Washington Post, reported Dana Hedgepath and Neil Irwin two days earlier in the Feb. 26 paper:

Out on the docks, the longshoremen have more varied
opinions. "Given the situation with 9/11 and all the money that was
channeled through the United
Arab Emirates, and now you're selling a
major port operation to them," Joe Fontaine, the senior dispatcher for the
International Longshoremen's Association Local 333, said Thursday. "Uh-uh.
That just doesn't sit well with me."

Charles "Chaz" DiGristine, who's been working the
docks for eight years as a longshoreman, said his 64-year-old mother called him
the other night, worried that they were "selling the Port of Baltimore
to a Middle Eastern company."

"She was freaking out," DiGristine said. "I
told her: 'Mama, nobody's selling the port. It's owned by the state. One
company is buying another company. It's not that big a deal.' "

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.