American longshoremen have begun a "total" boycott of all ships carrying cargo to and from Poland. The job action is backed by the AFL-CIO, but the Polish Embassy in Washington quickly denounced the move as one that "does not serve any constructive purpose -- it only contributes to the hardships we are now having."
The International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) boycott was announced Aug. 20 but was delayed a week during negotiations in Poland to settle that country's labor problems. The job action could disrupt shipments of grain to Poland and imports of canned ham, processed foods, machine tools, and electric motors.
ILA president Thomas W. Gleason says the Polish boycott is to support workers striking for labor and human rights.
Lane Kirkland, president of AFL-CIO, has pledged that US unions will do everything feasible to support the "just and brave struggle" of Polish workers. He is calling for an international boycott, pledging that AFL-CIO will "strongly support" any steps taken by the worldwide International Transport Workers Federation and International Confederation of Free Trade Unions to refuse to handle cargoes or flights to and from Poland.
Douglas Fraser, president of the independent United Automobile Workers, has joined in "moral support" of Polish strikers, but so far has held back from taking any action that "might be used against the strikers and which could lead to possibly explosive consequences in East-West relations."
Mr. Fraser said that the Polish government "may not exactly be a 'free agent' in this situation. Even if it is inclined to show patience and the willingness to negotiate . . . it has to worry about the Soviet government looking over its shoulder. Hungary and Czechoslovakia are vivid memories in eastern Europe."