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Subject: wwnews Digest #667
Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2003 21:33:23 -0400

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Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2003 20:35:17 -0400
Subject: [WW] Tyree Scott, fighter for oppressed workers

Tyree Scott: 1939–2003—fighter for oppressed workers

By Jim McMahan, Workers World, 24 July 2003

Around 700 people gathered at Mercer Middle School here on July 12 to celebrate the life of Tyree Scott, who died of cancer in June. Scott was a civil rights and labor leader, beginning in the late 1960s, who became a Marxist-Leninist in the struggle against capital.

Scott was born in Hearne, Tex., in 1939. He and his family moved to Seattle in 1966 after he came home from the Vietnam War. A skilled electrician, he was denied construction jobs due to racism. So he began to organize.

Workers of color couldn't get the better-paid construction jobs back then. In 1970 he founded the United Construction Work ers Association, which mobilized Black, Latino, Native and Asian workers. They shut down hundreds of construction sites to win affirmative action. Sea-Tac Airport was one project not complying with affirmative action. Hundreds of UCWA workers went out on the tarmac and blocked planes from moving into the terminal. They also blocked the ticket counters.

Those who may think affirmative action was handed out on a platter by the courts don't realize how many arrests, threats, beatings and jailings workers like Scott took to get those jobs.

After winning victories in Seattle, Tyree Scott organized teams to take the struggle to dozens of cities in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

In 1972 Scott joined with Filipino cannery workers and Latino farm workers to form the Labor Employment Law Office. Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes, Filipino organizers who had joined with Scott to form LELO, were both assassinated in 1981 for organizing workers and opposing the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines.

During the anti-apartheid struggle, Scott was instrumental in a campaign to stop the Port of Seattle from trading with racist South Africa.

In 1990 he and his family moved to Mozambique for two years to work on irrigation projects in solidarity with the besieged liberation struggle there.

In 1997 Scott brought together workers from 10 different countries for a conference on common strategies for dealing with capitalist globalization. He influenced countless young activists in the months leading up to Seattle's World Trade Organization protests in 1999. He and LELO also brought in workers' representatives from Mexico and from COSATU, the union federation in South Africa, to represent their own struggles against corporate globalization before the WTO.

Scott worked as an electrician for the Port of Seattle repairing the waterfront cranes. He retired in 1999. He returned to the Port in 2003 to help his co-workers on the maintenance crew organize against the privatization of their jobs by the union-busting Stevedoring Services of America. Scott raised six children, along with his partner Beverly Sims and his previous partner Estella Scott.

Tyree Scott wanted to be known as an ordinary worker. Speaker after speaker at his memorial said he would never back down from a struggle.