A real tea party on the Columbia River

Submitted: Sep 18, 2011
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

 

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the ILWU, is battling a global grain-shipping corporate partnership in the Washington State port of Longview, near the mouth of the Columbia River.

 

The contenders are:

 

EGT is a joint venture of Bunge, STX Pan Ocean, and Itochu. EGT has contracted with General Construction Company, employer of Operating Engineers Local 701, to do the work that is the long-established jurisdiction of the men and women of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 21. -- Longshore and Shipping News

http://www.longshoreshippingnews.com/2011/08/disturbing-video-shows-car-plowing-into-peaceful-demonstrators-at-port-of-longviews-egt-facility/

 

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) is a labor union which primarily represents dock workers on the West Coast of the United States, Hawaii and Alaska, and in British Columbia, Canada. It also represents hotel workers in Hawaii, cannery workers in Alaska, warehouse workers throughout the West and bookstore workers in Portland, Oregon. The union was established in 1937 after the 1934 West Coast Waterfront Strike, a 3-month-long strike that culminated in a 4-day general strike in San Francisco, California, and the Bay Area. Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Longshore_and_Warehouse_Union

First, we’ve presented two articles that give some perspective on the stakes in the battle between one of the few really international unions in the country and a global corporate partnership. These are fine examples of a kind of pro-union journalism that could have been written any time in the last century, which highlights the point that the battle has not changed. Even the tactics on both sides have not changed significantly. What is important about this strike is that it is against private corporations, not the government, and that the ILWU is not a government-employees union but an industrial union.

We included below the perspective pieces a number of articles from the Longview Daily News. Not only does the coverage appear to be thorough but it is sympathetic to the union. The community of Longview is at least supportive enough of the ILWU for its local newspaper to report thoroughly and fairly. This is rare. Typically news of labor actions is either repressed entirely or reported from a strickly corporate point of view.

This is a battle with true significance for working people everywhere, but particularly for the future of commodity shipping between the US and Asia in a period when the Panama Canal has been widened and Mexico plans a gigantic port on its Pacific coast to compete with US ports in Southern California. The battle in Longview could affect the way California grain is handled on the coast, particularly rice.

Badlands Journal editorial board

Second,

 

 

 

 

9-15-11

Counterpunch.com

12ILWU Rises to the Challenge

The Battle of Longview

by MARK VORPAHL

http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/09/15/the-battle-of-longview/

Anyone who still believes that U.S. workers and the labor movement are incapable of mounting a struggle against the conditions that the economic crisis is forcing on us has not been paying attention. Evidence to the contrary was vividly provided on the morning of September 8th, when 500 International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 21 members and their supporters took over the Port of Longview in the state of Washington. Railroad cars were damaged and the grain they carried was dumped in an effort by these workers to defend their jobs by resorting to the only tactic they had left, that is, using work site action to hurt the employers bottom line.

 

To do so they had to use their strength in numbers to overpower the police and security guards. Though the police attempted to make arrests, the workers pushed back and managed to release their brothers and sisters. The standoff that developed was explosively tense. As the hours rolled on the police began to bring out an arsenal of “non-lethal” guns and tear gas, demonstrating that they were prepared to inflict heavy casualties in order to secure the port and defend the bosses’ property and profits. The workers withdrew, for the time being, after having made their point by inflicting costs on the port bosses dearly. It is a credit to their unity that there were no successful arrests or injuries.

 

This action was accompanied by wildcat strikes (that is, strikes not sanctioned by the union) in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. This shows how big the stakes are at the Port of Longview. For workers to sacrifice their wages and make such extraordinary efforts, the cost of such actions have to greatly outweigh the costs of not taking them.

 

Corporate Greed

 

In this case the corporation compelling the ILWU to take such dramatic actions is the multi-national consortium EGT Development. Last year alone they made $2.5 billion. In spite of these deep pockets, they want to bust the ILWU at the $200 million grain terminal in Longview. If they succeed, this will encourage other longshore employers to do the same.

 

Promising jobs, EGT got a state tax exemption and a sweetheart lease deal to build the grain terminal. However, rather than providing local construction jobs in a county with an August unemployment rate of 11.7 percent, they initially imported non-union lower paid workers. If anyone was expecting some gratitude towards the community from EGT for the breaks the company received, that illusion quickly evaporated.

 

Then EGT’s greedy behavior got even worse. For 70 years the Port of Longview has employed the members of ILWU Local 21. In May of 2010, EGT had stated that they would continue the practice. This appears to have been a stalling tactic, however. In following negotiations EGT made unreasonable demands, such as asking ILWU members to work 12 hour shifts without overtime pay in addition to an exemption from recognizing maintenance, repair, and master consul jurisdiction. After not getting their way, EGT refused to meet with the ILWU, which is, most likely, what they wanted to do all along.

 

ILWU Push Back

 

The ILWU began to hold rallies and picket EGT in an attempt to pressure them back to the negotiating table. EGT refused to budge. This arrogant stubbornness resulted in a protest on July 11 where ILWU members tore down a chain-link gate and stormed the EGT terminal. 100 union workers and leaders were cited for arrest.

 

On July 14th union workers successfully blocked a train from delivering grain to the EGT terminal. As a result, the train company suspended its shipments for safety reasons.

 

EGT was feeling the heat, but they weren’t burned yet. They had another cynical maneuver up their sleeve. They signed an agreement with the Federal Way-based General Construction Company to operate the terminal with union members from the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 701. Now they hoped they could portray the conflict as union against union rather than union against EGT.

 

However, because the members of IUOE 701 are employed by a general contractor, they can be replaced by non-union workers the moment EGT decides to take over the job itself. Seeing through this ruse, both the Oregon and Washington State AFL-CIOs have condemned the leadership of IUOE 701for their actions in assisting EGT’s attempts to divide the union movement.

 

Choosing Sides

 

In all of this, it is important to note, the role of the police and legal system. While there have been many arrests of union members and leaders with stiff sentences for charges as trivial as not moving quickly enough when asked, those acting against the union have consistently gotten off scot-free. For instance, one person drove his car through a picket line so carelessly that a picketer was sent to the hospital. Rather than arresting the driver, the police arrested a protester for allegedly denting the car with his knee. With this twisted logic, if the driver had gotten out of his vehicle and struck a protester in the mouth with his fist, the police would have arrested the protester for assaulting the driver’s hand with his face.

 

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which was established in the 1930s ostensibly to protect union rights, has also been lining up with the employer. This board filed a temporary injunction against the ILWU, prohibiting union members from all traditional forms of protest. This moved ILWU International President Robert McEllrath to observe:

 

“The NLRB complaint and the motion seeking a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) and injunction were expected by the Coast Committee. The complaint itself has no legal significance unless sustained after a full trial and currently represents nothing more than mere allegations that are based on incorrect facts and bogus legal conclusions. This, unfortunately, is typical of the NLRB ever since the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 transformed its mission to restrict the union and civil rights of union members. The NLRB exists for one reason and that is to protect commerce at the expense of workers, and we are not surprised that EGT is employing the NLRB to put down a legitimate labor dispute.”

 

Fortunately, the ILWU defied this injunction on September 7, when they again clogged the railroad tracks to prevent grain from being delivered to the EGT terminal, and again on the morning of September 8 when they took over the terminal. Had they played by the rules of a game rigged in favor of the bosses, EGT would have no reason to settle the dispute. Consequently, the police and courts would have greater incentive to trample on the ILWU members’ rights.

 

On September 8th, a United States District Court Judge denied the NLRB’s motion to ban picketing at the EGT facility. It is more than likely that part of the motivation behind this was that such restrictions were not muzzling the ILWU membership, but emboldening them. If an unjust law is followed, it remains. If it is resisted and defied through mass collective action, there is a better chance of doing away with it.

 

The role of the corporate press should also be noted. Few, if any, articles have made a genuine attempt to give the union side in this conflict, though the ILWU has strong community support in Longview. The initial reports in the corporate websites and papers even claimed that security guards were held hostage by those who stormed the EGT terminal. Since these accounts came out, even the police have said they were false. Nevertheless, these claims still turn up uncorrected in the corporate media. This should surprise no one. The corporate media have more economic interests in discrediting labor and any actions that effectively hurt corporate profits than they do in providing the truth.

 

Changing Times

 

Even with the press, the legal system, as well as the political establishment lined up against us, labor can win. A new mood is rising from the ranks as a result of the attacks against all workers and the insatiable greed and power of those tiny few at the very top economic rung. This mood is turning into a mass force. We have already witnessed it in Madison, Wisconsin which, though not resulting in an immediate victory, showed that the political climate opposed to workers’ struggles can be turned around. The 45,000 member-strong strike at Verizon alone equaled all the unionists out on strike in 2010. Now the ILWU in Longview has introduced a new boldness in overcoming legal restrictions and hitting the employers where they are most vulnerable: their profits.

 

When ILWU International President Robert McEllrath urged members to end their standoff at the EGT Terminal take over, he stated:  ”If we leave here, it doesn’t mean we gave up and quit. It means we’re coming back.”

 

And when they do come back, they need to do so with the active support of Longshore workers across the west coast. They also need to mobilize their community supporters in the streets. If this is done, the ILWU could again provide a watershed moment for Labor like they did in the 1934 San Francisco General Strike.

 

 

 

Huffington Post

Longshoremen Breathe Life Into the Labor Movement

David Macaray

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-macaray/ilwu-strike_b_955734.html

 On Sept. 8, a group of longshoremen estimated at between 500-1,000, all members of the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union), stormed the gates of a Longview grain terminal (located in southwestern Washington state) to protest the company's (EGT Development) anti-union policies. The ILWU insists that the EGT contract, along with the provisions of the Northwest Grainhandlers Agreement, guarantee ILWU representation.

 

After overwhelming Longview's security guards, the longshoremen allegedly dumped grain, broke the windows of the guard shack and severed the brake lines of several railroad cars. Police were called in and 19 arrests were made. Meanwhile, dockworkers in Seattle, Tacoma and Everett walked off their jobs in support of the Longview action.

 

According to labor activists, EGT Development -- a joint American-Japanese-South Korean company -- had received tax breaks and other perks in return for promising to create well-paying union jobs at the $200 million grain terminal. Despite the workers having a contract with the Port of Longview guaranteeing that only ILWU members be hired for work on the docks, EGT attempted to renege on the agreement. Initially, in fact, they had the nerve to declare that they intended to hire only non-union workers (at lower wages and benefits) to fill the positions.

 

But following ILWU protests earlier this year, EGT backed down and reversed themselves. They said they wouldn't be using non-union workers after all. But rather than honor the prior agreement and hire only ILWU members, they stunned everyone by announcing that they would be hiring members of the IUOE (International Union of Operating Engineers) instead.

 

Although EGT management is attempting to make this thing appear as a thuggish, internecine battle -- an old-fashioned power play between rival unions, the issue boils down to two things. For one, a deal is a deal, and EGT needs to honor the agreement the Port of Longview made with the ILWU.

 

For another, and not to point fingers, but the IUOE -- in contrast to the formidable and truculent ILWU -- is perceived as a union not known for putting up much of a fight, which, in truth, is why EGT, after attempting to fill the positions with non-union personnel, chose the Operating Engineers as the union they wanted to do business with.

 

The Longshoremen are understandably upset. Besides the prospect of losing jobs that were promised to them, the ILWU is fearful of the long-term effects this audacious end-run could have. They fear EGT will break the IUOE (Local 701), and that after busting this union and coming away perceived as the victor (a la Ronald Reagan with PATCO), it will move against the ILWU.

 

Although a preliminary injunction was issued late on Sept. 8 by U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton, the dockworkers are still protesting at ports in the northwest. The Longview dispute obviously has a ways to go before it gets sorted out, but no matter what the eventual outcome, these brave ILWU members have breathed life into the labor movement. One can only hope that their actions will inspire union members in other industries to assert themselves as well.

 

And as for those upright, uptight citizens who will condemn the Longview demonstration as "lawless" or "renegade," they need to recalibrate. They need to see this thing for what it is. The Longview uprising is self-determination personified. It's American, it's patriotic, it's grassroots and its antecedents can be traced back to the Boston Tea Party -- the real Boston Tea Party. Indeed, Longview is what the so-called Tea Party movement wishes it were.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9-16-11

The Daily News, Longview WA

No arrests as ILWU members, supporters attempt to turn themselves in

By Erik Olson and Barbara LaBoe

http://tdn.com/news/local/article_028f0e28-e098-11e0-8809-001cc4c002e0.html

 

More than 200 union longshore workers and supporters massed peacefully outside the Cowlitz County Hall of Justice in Kelso early Friday afternoon, saying they were planning to surrender themselves to police to answer charges for demonstrations last week.

 

However, when no law enforcement official emerged to meet with them and officers present did not move to make any arrests, the group dispersed at 1:30 p.m after waiting a half hour.

 

Later Friday, though, the union's local vice president was arrested on two misdemeanor charges. He bailed out after roughly an hour in custody.

 

"I'm hoping we don't have to worry about being arrested in the middle of the night now. ... We shouldn't have to fear the intimidation that's been put forth or the abuse that's been put forth. ... We're going home as free citizens," Dan Coffman, president of the longshore union's Longview-based Local 21, said during the rally.

 

Last week, 20 union protesters were arrested on suspicion of blocking a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train bound for the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview. About 400 International Longshore and Warehouse Union protesters and supporters stood on the tracks and blocked the train for about four hours before it was allowed to pass.

 

Thursday, Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson announced six more arrests of union members in connection with the train blockage with more likely to come. Union officials said they were tired of law enforcement officers were following them home to arrest them, which is why they gathered in front of Nelson's office at the Hall of Justice.

 

Friday, Local 21 members stood in lines three deep facing the front door of the Hall of Justice. All members declined to talk to reporters and referred all questions to Coffman and Leal Sundet, the ILWU's San Francisco-based coast committeemen. Coffman said union attorneys had attempted to contact Nelson and County Prosecutor Sue Baur to turn themselves in but heard no response.

 

Sheriff's deputies say they received no such request and learned of the planned protest from the media, which is why they did not respond Friday.

 

"If someone wants to turn themselves in they need to do so in the appropriate manner. Dealing with it in a public fray is a negative for everyone," said Grover Laseke, the county's emergency management director and a spokesman for Nelson.

 

In a written statement Friday, Nelson praised the union for protesting lawfully during the demonstration.

 

"Today's event was peaceful, uneventful, and a great example of what we expect from protesters. They came, lawfully protested, and let their issues be heard. No need for us to do anything; no laws were broken," Nelson said.

 

Local union vice president Jacob Anthony Whiteside was arrested late Friday afternoon on suspicion of criminal trespass and obstructing of a train Sept. 7. Bail was set at $500 for the misdemeanor charges, and Whiteside posted bail and was released.

 

Union officials called the arrest — which they said was made in front of Whiteside's children in a church parking lot — another example of local police "going on a rampage," against union workers, according to an email from spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent.

 

The ILWU has been battling EGT for months to work at the $200 million grain terminal, which the company hopes to open for the fall harvest. At stake are 25 to 35 jobs. EGT has hired Federal Way-based union contractor General Construction Co. to staff the terminal from a pool of union operating engineers based out of Oregon.

 

ILWU officials say their contract with the Port of Longview entitles them to work on the 35 acres of port property that EGT leases. EGT officials say they believe they were only bound to meet the union, not necessarily hire longshore labor. A lawsuit over the matter is expected to go to trial next spring.

 

Coffman said he's frustrated that law enforcement in Cowlitz County has taken a harder line against the union in recent weeks. He noted that police in Vancouver arrested no one last week when union picketers blocked the EGT-bound train there. Coffman blamed Cowlitz County law enforcement for provoking union members by attempting to detain Robert McEllrath, president of the San Francisco-based international, during the protest on the train tracks Sept. 7.

 

"We've gotten a lot of false promises and a lot of false hopes. That's what we've gotten," Coffman said.

 

Early morning Sept. 8, a mass of protestors stormed the grain terminal. Many people carried ILWU signs, and damaged rail cars, spilled grain on the ground, smashed windows on security shacks and threatened security guards, police said. Early reports indicated that the guards had been taken hostage, but police later said the guards had been blocked from leaving.

 

"We have been accused of taking hostages. A lie. We have been accused of taking a security guard out of his car and beating him. A lie," Coffman said.

 

Police said an EGT security guard was allegedly pulled out of his vehicle that morning, while another man jumped in the car and drove it into a ditch.

 

On Thursday, Sundet sent a letter to Nelson, accusing the sheriff of siding with EGT in the labor dispute.

 

"It seems to us, Mr. Nelson, that you have become the lead propagandist for EGT, a multinational corporation with no interest in the community other than to generate profit for its foreign owners," Sundet wrote.

 

Both Coffman and Sundet refused to answer follow-up questions from reporters about the events last week. A federal judge ruled Thursday that the union was in contempt of a restraining order barring illegal picketing, leading to fines that will be determined later this month.

 

Nelson has previously said union protesters were more aggressive last week, leading to the arrests.

 

About a half hour before the rally, about 30 wives of current and retired longshoremen held signs and marched around the Hall of Justice in support of the ILWU.

 

"This isn't about wages. This is about breaking the union. We worked too hard to lose this," said Shirleen Fuqua, 69 of Longview, whose husband is a retired longshoremen of 39 years.

 

Union wife Wendy Vandenberg brought along 3-year-old granddaughter, Nicole Williams, who carried a sign reading "Stand up now or beg later" as she walked up and down the sidewalk wearing a pink tutu.

 

"She's the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of longshoremen," Vandenberg said.

 

Other area union leaders were on hand to support the ILWU, and they said they wished Nelson had appeared.

 

"It makes one extremely disturbed that no response was made (from Nelson.) I was surprised," said Jeff Washburn, chairman of the Cowlitz/ Wahkiakum Central Labor Council.

 

Washburn was one of the people arrested for trespassing at the rail tracks last Thursday.

 

 

Federal judge rules ILWU in contempt of court

By Erik Olson

http://tdn.com/news/local/article_8ff454ae-dfed-11e0-a5e7-001cc4c002e0.html

Sheriff's deputies make six more arrests Cowlitz County Sheriff's deputies have made six more misdemeanor arrests related to the Sept. 7 union longshore protest at the EGT grain terminal in Longview, authorities said Thursday.

 

Each of the suspects are accused of participating in a protest to block a train delivering grain to the terminal. They were booked into the Cowlitz County Jail Wednesday and Thursday on suspicion of second-degree criminal trespass and obstructing or delaying a train.

 

All six were released on personal recognizance and will be arraigned in Cowlitz County District Court within in the next week, authorities said.

 

Arrested were: Phillip D. Schill, 45, of Kelso; Byron J. Jacobs, 28, of Longview; Guy E. Tow, 45, of Longview; Michael K. Muller, 54, of Longview; Christopher J. Barber, 39 of Kelso; and Randy K. Johnson, 47, of Longview.

 

None of the arrests was related to Thursday's federal court ruling in Tacoma.

 

Deputies continue to investigate the Sept. 7 protest as well as a Sept. 8 raid on the terminal, during which the grain terminal property and Burlington Northern Santa Fe train were damaged.

 

Longshoremen with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 have been battling the grain terminal's owners in a months-long labor dispute.

 

Deputies make six more misdemeanor arrests for EGT protest

TACOMA — A federal judge Thursday ruled the longshore union in contempt of court for its protests and vandalism two weeks ago at the EGT grain terminal in Longview.

 

U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Leighton also said he would fine the union, the amount to be determined by a company analysis of vandalism from a Sept. 8 raid at the terminal. EGT officials said they expect to have a damage estimate by the end of the month.

 

Leighton did not order anyone to jail. His order was directed at the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Locals 21 and 4 in Longview and Vancouver.

 

During nearly five hours of proceedings Thursday, the judge scolded the union for the behavior of its membership, referring at one point to unruly protestors as "a mob."

 

"It's like asking the parent of a juvenile delinquent to predict your clients' behavior," Leighton told attorneys for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

 

Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson said he's "hopeful" the contempt order will ease tensions at the terminal.

 

"My preference would be that everybody would sit down and try to talk this stuff out. I wish there had been no need for fines in the first place," Nelson said.

 

The union issued a statement following Leighton's ruling.

 

"Accountability goes both ways," the statement reads. "The workers faced the judge today, but so far there has been no accountability for multinational EGT, which has created chaos in the community by taking millions in a special tax exemption, breaking their agreement to hire ILWU workers, suing the port, and trying to destabilize the grain industry in the Northwest.

 

"If union members stand on a train track exercising their First Amendment rights, it is a crime. But, if a major corporation plunders an entire community, it matters not," the statement concluded.

 

EGT is owned by St. Louis-based Bunge North America, Japan-based Itochu Corp. and Korean shipper Pan Ocean STX.

 

"We appreciate and respect the court's decision today. We have always said that any issues between EGT, the Port of Longview and the ILWU should be resolved peacefully in a court of law," EGT CEO Larry Clarke said in a written statement.

 

Eight witnesses were called during Thursday's civil contempt hearing, in which Leighton decided that the union violated his Sept. 1 temporary restraining order prohibiting it from engaging in violence or doing anything to impede EGT's business, including blocking grain trains headed to the terminal.

 

During the proceedings, security guards and police officers described the early morning Sept. 8 raid on the terminal in frightening detail.

 

Charlie Cadwell, a Columbia Security patrol guard, said he was overwhelmed by a horde of longshoremen, all of whom were brandishing bats, shears and other weapons. He opened his car door, and a man yanked him to the ground and stood over him.

 

"I told him, ‘You've got about 50 cameras on you. Law enforcement is on their way."

 

"He was basically like, ‘F-- you. We're not here to get you. We're here to get the train," Cadwell said.

 

He identified the man as Ron Stavas, a Local 21 member who was arrested Monday on suspicion of four felonies in connection with the raid on the terminal.

 

Cadwell said he fled the area for the back of the property near the grain silos. After about an hour, as the group was leaving, they hurled rocks at Cadwell and other security officers, he said.

 

"I got hit between the eyes. I got hit in the knees."

 

However, Cadwell added he knew that security guards were not the target. When asked by EGT attorney Cliff Godiner if he was concerned for his safety, Cadwell replied, "No, I was not."

 

Longview police Sgt. Mark Langlois testified that in the early morning of Sept. 8 he was responding to a call of about a hundred vehicles leaving the longshore union hall on 14th Avenue in Longview. One vehicle pulled over and blocked him on Fibre Way, and Langlois said he was unable to do anything to stop the group.

 

"I was by myself. I was completely outnumbered. I wasn't about to stop any of these people from doing whatever it is they were going to do," Langlois said.

 

Last week, hundreds of longshoremen and supporters gathered on rail tracks on Port of Longview property to block a mile-long Burlington Northern Santa Fe grain train coming into the facility. The train was eventually was allowed to pass through, but 20 picketers were arrested on suspicion of trespassing, a violation of the restraining order.

 

At one point during the pickets, Cowlitz County sheriff's deputies Cory Robinson and Tory Shelton tried to arrest Robert McEllrath, president of the San Francisco-based ILWU, but were swarmed by the crowd and let him go, they testified Wednesday.

 

"A large group of protesters were rushing at us. I let go of Mr. McEllrath because I felt like they were going to overrun us," Robinson said.

 

On Sept. 8, Leighton made his Sept. 1 order permanent, hours after hundreds of people broke into the grain terminal, assaulted security guards and spilled grain from the rail cars. He angrily warned the ILWU's attorneys that people could hurt if the situation isn't under control.

 

The ILWU believes its members have the right to work at the terminal because of a working agreement with the Port of Longview, which leases the site to EGT.

 

EGT officials say they are not bound by that contract, and they instead hired union contractor General Construction Co. of Federal Way to staff the terminal with union operating engineers.

 

 

9-15-11

Federal judge rules ILWU in contempt of court

By Erik Olson

http://tdn.com/news/local/article_8ff454ae-dfed-11e0-a5e7-001cc4c002e0.html

 

TACOMA — A federal judge Thursday ruled the longshore union in contempt of court for its protests and vandalism two weeks ago at the EGT grain terminal in Longview.

 

U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Leighton also said he would fine the union, the amount to be determined by a company analysis of vandalism from a Sept. 8 raid at the terminal. EGT officials said they expect to have a damage estimate by the end of the month.

 

Leighton did not order anyone to jail. His order was directed at the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Locals 21 and 4 in Longview and Vancouver.

 

During nearly five hours of proceedings Thursday, the judge scolded the union for the behavior of its membership, referring at one point to unruly protestors as "a mob."

 

"It's like asking the parent of a juvenile delinquent to predict your clients' behavior," Leighton told attorneys for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

 

Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson said he's "hopeful" the contempt order will ease tensions at the terminal.

 

"My preference would be that everybody would sit down and try to talk this stuff out. I wish there had been no need for fines in the first place," Nelson said.

 

The union issued a statement following Leighton's ruling.

 

"Accountability goes both ways," the statement reads. "The workers faced the judge today, but so far there has been no accountability for multinational EGT, which has created chaos in the community by taking millions in a special tax exemption, breaking their agreement to hire ILWU workers, suing the port, and trying to destabilize the grain industry in the Northwest.

 

"If union members stand on a train track exercising their First Amendment rights, it is a crime. But, if a major corporation plunders an entire community, it matters not," the statement concluded.

 

EGT is owned by St. Louis-based Bunge North America, Japan-based Itochu Corp. and Korean shipper Pan Ocean STX.

 

"We appreciate and respect the court's decision today. We have always said that any issues between EGT, the Port of Longview and the ILWU should be resolved peacefully in a court of law," EGT CEO Larry Clarke said in a written statement.

 

Eight witnesses were called during Thursday's civil contempt hearing, in which Leighton decided that the union violated his Sept. 1 temporary restraining order prohibiting it from engaging in violence or doing anything to impede EGT's business, including blocking grain trains headed to the terminal.

 

During the proceedings, security guards and police officers described the early morning Sept. 8 raid on the terminal in frightening detail.

 

Charlie Cadwell, a Columbia Security patrol guard, said he was overwhelmed by a horde of longshoremen, all of whom were brandishing bats, shears and other weapons. He opened his car door, and a man yanked him to the ground and stood over him.

 

"I told him, ‘You've got about 50 cameras on you. Law enforcement is on their way."

 

"He was basically like, ‘F-- you. We're not here to get you. We're here to get the train," Cadwell said.

 

He identified the man as Ron Stavas, a Local 21 member who was arrested Monday on suspicion of four felonies in connection with the raid on the terminal.

 

Cadwell said he fled the area for the back of the property near the grain silos. After about an hour, as the group was leaving, they hurled rocks at Cadwell and other security officers, he said.

 

"I got hit between the eyes. I got hit in the knees."

 

However, Cadwell added he knew that security guards were not the target. When asked by EGT attorney Cliff Godiner if he was concerned for his safety, Cadwell replied, "No, I was not."

 

Longview police Sgt. Mark Langlois testified that in the early morning of Sept. 8 he was responding to a call of about a hundred vehicles leaving the longshore union hall on 14th Avenue in Longview. One vehicle pulled over and blocked him on Fibre Way, and Langlois said he was unable to do anything to stop the group.

 

"I was by myself. I was completely outnumbered. I wasn't about to stop any of these people from doing whatever it is they were going to do," Langlois said.

 

Last week, hundreds of longshoremen and supporters gathered on rail tracks on Port of Longview property to block a mile-long Burlington Northern Santa Fe grain train coming into the facility. The train was eventually was allowed to pass through, but 20 picketers were arrested on suspicion of trespassing, a violation of the restraining order.

 

At one point during the pickets, Cowlitz County sheriff's deputies Cory Robinson and Tory Shelton tried to arrest Robert McEllrath, president of the San Francisco-based ILWU, but were swarmed by the crowd and let him go, they testified Wednesday.

 

"A large group of protesters were rushing at us. I let go of Mr. McEllrath because I felt like they were going to overrun us," Robinson said.

 

On Sept. 8, Leighton made his Sept. 1 order permanent, hours after hundreds of people broke into the grain terminal, assaulted security guards and spilled grain from the rail cars. He angrily warned the ILWU's attorneys that people could hurt if the situation isn't under control.

 

The ILWU believes its members have the right to work at the terminal because of a working agreement with the Port of Longview, which leases the site to EGT.

 

EGT officials say they are not bound by that contract, and they instead hired union contractor General Construction Co. of Federal Way to staff the terminal with union operating engineers.

 

 

Deputies make six more misdemeanor arrests for EGT protest

http://tdn.com/news/local/article_28480f46-e08b-11e0-833f-001cc4c002e0.html

...Cowlitz County Sheriff's deputies have made six additional misdemeanor arrests related to the Sept. 7 union longshore protest at the EGT grain terminal in Longview, authorities said Thursday.

 

Each of the suspects are accused of participating in a protest to block a train delivering grain to the terminal. They were booked into the Cowlitz County Jail Wednesday and Thursday on suspicion of second-degree criminal trespass and obstructing or delaying a train.

 

All six were released on personal recognizance and will be arraigned in Cowlitz County District Court within in the next week, authorities said.

 

Arrested were: Phillip D. Schill, 45, of Kelso; Byron J. Jacobs, 28, of Longview; Guy E. Tow, 45, of Longview; Michael K. Muller, 54, of Longview; Christopher J. Barber, 39 of Kelso; and Randy K. Johnson, 47, of Longview.

 

None of the arrests was related to Thursday's federal court ruling in Tacoma.

 

Deputies continue to investigate the Sept. 7 protest as well as a Sept. 8 raid on the terminal, during which the grain terminal property and Burlington Northern Santa Fe train were damaged.

 

Longshoremen with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 have been battling the grain terminal’s owners in a months-long labor dispute.

 

 

9-13-11

Sheriff announces two arrests related to Port of Longview conflict

By Erik Olson 

 http://tdn.com/news/local/article_839ae21c-de40-11e0-84ef-001cc4c002e0.html

A Kelso union longshoreman was arrested Monday on suspicion of four felony charges in connection with last Thursday's vandalism of the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview, Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson announced Tuesday.

 

A Longview woman also was arrested and released Monday on suspicion of misdemeanor charges as part of longshore union effort to block an incoming train outside the terminal last Wednesday, Nelson said.

 

More arrests are expected in the next few days, Nelson said. The two people arrested Monday are members of Longview-based Local 21 of the longshore union, according to Dan Coffman, the local president.

 

Ronald Patrick Stavas, 45, of Kelso was arrested Monday night on suspicion of first-degree burglary, second-degree assault, intimidating a witness and sabotage, according to the sheriff's office. His bail was set at $50,000.

 

Stavas was identified as one of the hundreds of people who stormed the EGT terminal about 4:30 a.m. Sept. 8 and damaged a security shack, assaulted guards and spilled corn product from a mile-long train parked inside the terminal, according to the sheriff's office.

 

"The things that make this unusual, of course, is the large number of people, and the extent of the criminal activity. I want to emphasize that this not anti-union, pro-EGT. This is not about an entity. This about people that are committing criminal acts," Nelson said.

 

Stavas was identified by a witness at the terminal who later saw a video of him confronting a television news crew outside the longshore union hall on 14th Avenue in Longview, according to Nelson. In the video, which has gone viral online, a man is seen swearing profusely and threatening a Portland news crew in the parking lot of the union hall.

 

Also arrested Monday was Shelly Ann Porter, 39, of Longview on suspicion of trespassing Wednesday evening. Porter was allegedly one of about 400 longshore union protesters and supporters who blocked a mile-long grain train on port property for about four hours. Nineteen other people were arrested that evening, and the 107-car Burlington Northern Santa Fe grain train eventually was able to pass into the terminal.

 

EGT and BNSF workers have been repairing the train over the weekend, and it should be ready to leave the terminal this week, BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said.

 

Coffman said union members are frustrated at what they perceive as provocation by local police, specifically when law enforcment officers handcuffed and hauled away ILWU President Bob McEllrath during the Wednesday evening protest before letting him go.

 

Also, union members are upset that police are targeting local union members for trespassing, when hundreds were standing on the tracks, Coffman said.

 

The Thursday morning raid was a "wildcat" action by union members without authorization of leadership, and they were angry about police actions the previous night, he said.

 

"When they took our president to the ground, they lit a spark. It's a wildfire now," Coffman said.

 

Nelson said police did not know who McEllrath was when they detained him, and he was only let go when other protesters rushed the officers.

 

Other union supporters came to the ILWU's defense Tuesday, questioning why Vancouver police were able to handle a rally last Wednesday morning without making arrests.

 

Rick Von Rock, a former union representative at Longview Fibre Paper & Packaging and former Kelso city councilman, told Cowlitz County commissioners Tuesday that he's concerned about the severity of the police response to the protests.

 

"We've protested in this community in the past. We've blocked things. But we weren't charged like this," Von Rock said at the commission's weekly meeting in Kelso, adding that he does not condone vandalism committed against EGT.

 

Commissioners cautioned that law enforcement were outnumbered and trying to control a volatile crowd.

 

"We can't second-guess our deputies when they're overrun by angry protesters," Commissioner George Raiter said, adding that police had been "very restrained."

 

The ILWU believes EGT's lease with the Port of Longview entitles its members to work at the $200 million terminal. EGT officials say they have the right to hire its own workforce, and they hired union contractor General Construction Co. of Federal Way to staff the terminal with union operating engineers.

 

A federal judge will hear arguments Thursday that the union violated a restraining order by blocking the train. The National Labor Relations Board is also holding a hearing next month to determine whether the ILWU has violated the National Labor Relations Act by interfering with EGT's contract with the Union of International Operating Engineers Local 701 out of Oregon.

 

Reporter Barbara Laboe contributed to this report.

 

 

Longshoremen, grain elevator operators begin contract negotiations

By Erik Olson

http://tdn.com/news/local/article_3eaab21e-de71-11e0-a6f0-001cc4c002e0.html

Font Size:Default font sizeLarger font size.Union longshoremen and operators of lower Columbia River grain terminals have started contract negotiations which will likely be closely watched because of the union's labor fight with the EGT terminal in Longview.

 

According to joint release Tuesday from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Northwest Grain Elevator Operators, both sides are "guardedly optimistic" that contract talks will run smoothly. Both sides also seek to modify the current contract, which expires Oct. 1.

 

The elevator operators' association represents privately owned grain terminals at the ports of Kalama, Vancouver and Portland. Members of the association include Cargill, Columbia Grain, Louis Dreyfus Commodities, CLD Pacific Grain, and United Grain Corp.

 

Kalama Export, at the north end of the Port of Kalama, operates under a separate labor agreement with the ILWU. The terminal is owned by investment firm Gavilon and is not involved in the new contract negotiations.

 

The ILWU represents 4,000 dockworkers and grain workers in Oregon and Washington. The union has worked in Columbia River grain terminals since the 1930s.

 

The ILWU is in a battle with EGT over the company's refusal to use union longshore workers at its new $200 million terminal. Union officials are worried that losing the EGT terminal could weaken their position with other grain elevator operators.

 

9-8-11

Longshoremen storm EGT terminal, release grain from rail cars

By Tony Lystra and Erik Olson

http://tdn.com/news/local/article_e98046a8-da30-11e0-bd16-001cc4c002e0.html

 

Hundreds of longshoremen and their supporters stormed the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview early Thursday morning, dumping grain from train cars, smashing windows on a guard shack and leaving six security guards feeling trapped and fearing for their safety, the Longview Police Department said.

 

The protesters, who rushed the $200 million terminal around 4:30 a.m., yanked a security guard from his car and drove the vehicle into a ditch, authorities said. They also cut the brake lines of train cars, according to Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha. Police estimated 400 people were involved.

 

Initial law enforcement reports suggested the protesters held the security guards hostage. Investigators, however, later learned that the six guards inside feared they would be injured or killed if they stepped into crowd of protesters roaring past a guard shack, Duscha said. He said the guards were unable to leave the area for about two hours.

 

By the time law enforcement arrived en force, the protesters had scattered, he said.

 

"They all left before we could mobilize some of our troops," Duscha said.

 

No one was injured and no one involved in Thursday morning's events has yet been arrested.

 

Dan Coffman, president of Longview-based Local 21 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said he doesn't know what happened at the terminal Thursday morning and couldn't confirm any of the local's 200 members was involved. He criticized Duscha for making early, exaggerated claims against union longshoremen.

 

"It's totally ridiculous when you've got a police chief in this community that's accusing us of holding hostages. That is a blatant, total, all-out lie," Coffman said.

 

Authorities, who called in scores of officers, are bracing for more union activity. Police have arranged for backup with multiple law enforcement agencies in the region in preparation for any future conflict, and they have appealed to the union to de-escalate the situation.

 

"I think it's to the point that things could get very violent and hostile," Duscha said, adding that police are "hoping for the best but expecting the worst."

 

"My hope would be that longshoremen would go back to peaceful protests and have a level head and let this resolve in federal court this spring. That would be the best for everybody involved," the chief added.

 

The ILWU believes it has the right to work at the facility, both by tradition and under a lease agreement that EGT signed with the Port of Longview. EGT officials have instead hired workers from the Union of Operating Engineers Local 701, based in Oregon. The matter is expected to be settled in federal court next year.

 

EGT is pushing to open the terminal soon in preparation for the fall harvest. The company plans to haul millions of tons of grain from the Midwest and export to China and other Asian markets.

 

Just before the morning raid, a Longview police sergeant was patrolling the area when he spotted a horde of cars rolling toward the terminal, Duscha said. A man carrying a baseball bat stepped out of a truck near the terminal and declared to the sergeant, "Today is the day law enforcement gets theirs!"

 

Duscha said the protester was grabbed and pulled back into a truck by two of his fellow protesters.

 

Many of the protesters carried ILWU signs and sported union bumper stickers on their vehicles, police said.

 

Thursday morning's incident was a dramatic escalation of dispute that has festered all summer. Just 12 hours earlier, several hundred ILWU protestors stopped a 107-car grain train for about four hours late Wednesday afternoon. The mile-long train, the first-ever shipment to the terminal, passed into the terminal when union protesters cleared the tracks after being confronted by police wearing riot gear and carrying tear gas and rifles loaded with rubber bullets.

 

During Wednesday's protest, union members threw rocks at police and sprayed a few officers with mace, Duscha said. He also noted that the protesters had attached picket signs to baseball bats and ax handles. Nineteen protesters were arrested Wednesday, some after scuffling with police.

 

"In my 31 years in law enforcement, I've never seen a labor dispute like this," Duscha said Thursday morning.

 

Although most of the protesters arrested Wednesday are local residents, Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson suggested that out-of-town protesters are causing most of the trouble.

 

"This was not like the peaceful protests we've seen in the past. The protesters today were loud, aggressive and assaulted my officers," Nelson said in a prepared statement.

 

"I have been meeting with local union leadership and business representatives for two months now. I was always assured that things would not get violent towards our police officers. I guess the protesters from out of town didn't get that message," Nelson said. " ... There are people outside of our community that are pulling the strings here, and our neighbors are the ones getting hurt."

 

By mid-morning Thursday, the protesters had dispersed. None were at the terminal, which was barricaded by a group of police cars. The only visible sign that the union supporters had been at the terminal were a few ILWU picket signs tossed into the dirt and mounds of corn spilled on the tracks beneath nearly every grain car that had come in Wednesday. A handful of vehicles were outside the longshore union hall on 14th Avenue in Longview Thursday afternoon, but the doors were locked to outsiders.

 

Law enforcement has closed off all pickets on East Mill Road outside the terminal. In past weeks, the union and port had agreed to limit pickets to 16 people at a time on the condition they broke no laws, Nelson said.

 

Six law enforcement agencies set up a command post at an old square dance hall on Industrial Way not far from the grain terminal. Duscha said 50 officers were on duty in the area and the Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office, which was in charge of the operation, was ready to call in more from agencies as far away as Oregon.

 

"We're very tense," Duscha said. "The demeanor of the protesters has come out. They were aggressive toward law enforcement."

 

Duscha said investigators were inside the terminal assessing the damage Thursday morning.

 

During a Thursday afternoon press conference, Duscha said there had been no law enforcement presence in the middle of the night following Wednesday's protests. Government budgets are tight, he said, and it didn't seem practical to station officers at the port overnight.

 

Larry Clarke, EGT's CEO, said he appreciated the help from local law enforcement during the chaotic morning.

 

"Today, the ILWU took its criminal activity against EGT to an appalling level, including engaging in assault and significant property destruction. This type of violent attack at the export terminal has been condemned by a federal court, and we fully support prosecution of this criminal behavior to the fullest extent under the law. The ILWU is thumbing its nose at the laws of the United States and our legal system," Clarke said in a written statement.

 

 

Wednesday's Arrests

 

Cowlitz County sheriff's deputies Wednesday evening arrested 19 protesters on allegations of first- or second-degree trespassing — both misdemeanors — on Port of Longview rail tracks outside the EGT grain terminal:

 

James Ervin Schraeder, 47, Castle Rock

William John Roberts, 42, Clatskanie

Jeff Paul Washburn, 54, Castle Rock

Jeffery Craig Hellem, 52, Silver Lake

Dan Lewis Curtis, 62, Portland

Timothy Madden, 57, Portland

Jeffery William Bryant, 45, Vancouver

Shane Austin Stacy, 35, Longview

Joseph Clayton Hellen, 20, Longview

Ryan Kristopher Sherman, 28, Longview

Lenora Michelle Bryant, 42, Vancouver

Alison Lynn, 52, Longview

Lisa Rae Wabel, 45, Longview

Michael Allen, 43, Silver Lake

Scott Tracy Lynch, 46, Vancouver

Shane Michael Pederson, 42, Oregon City

Frank Stephen Delarosa, 48, Estacada, Ore.

Gregory Darrol Carse, 56, Vancouver

John David Mulcahy, 54, Warren, Ore.

 

9-9-11

Sheriff Arrests coming for grain terminal raid

http://tdn.com/news/local/article_0da048fe-db66-11e0-949e-001cc4c002e0.html

Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson, left, talks with Dan Coffman, the president of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21, inside the gate on the terminal's property in July.

 

Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson said Friday his office plans to arrest protesters involved with a raid on a grain terminal at the Port of Longview early Thursday and asked for the public's help in identifying those who dragged a security guard from his car and drove the vehicle into a ditch.

 

"We've got lots of evidence that we're going through, and I anticipate making arrests," Nelson said.

 

Nelson said he was "extremely disappointed" that a months-long dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the EGT grain terminal has descended into violence. He lambasted the union for its alleged role in this week's events, during which protesters wielding baseball bats dumped grain from rail cars, smashed windows and intimidated law enforcement officers and security guards.

 

"This was an organized, large-scale criminal event," Nelson said. "We're talking about sabotage. We're talking about riotous behavior."

 

Union officials, meanwhile, disputed some allegations against their members Friday and said they believe the union is being unfairly provoked by police.

 

Authorities have accused union members of throwing rocks at police and pepper-spraying officers. However, Tom Loran, vice president of the Portland-based Local 92, which is in town supporting the Local 21, said during a Port of Longview commission meeting Friday that protesters have done no such thing.

 

"These are all inflammatory comments by local law enforcement," said Loran, who was at the Wednesday protest. "Our union's civil rights are being trampled upon now. Non-violent actions have worked in the past, and they'll work in the future."

 

The longshoremen argue the EGT terminal is obligated to hire them under a lease with the port. EGT executives say otherwise and have hired a contractor, which, in turn, is employing union operating engineers to work at the $200 million facility. A federal court is expected to rule on the matter next year. At stake are 25 to 35 jobs, mostly in the facility's control room.

 

Nelson's remarks Friday signal a change in tone from earlier this summer. In July, even as his deputies arrested union members for trespassing at the EGT terminal, Nelson said he was sympathetic of the union's goal. "Bless their hearts," he said at the time. "These are our neighbors, too. These are our folks. This is our community."

 

But on Friday, Nelson said of those involved in the raid: "Tell me these are not our neighbors. Tell me these are not the people living next door to us."

 

In a written statement Friday, he called this week's violence and property destruction "a game changer."

 

Nelson said he has been meeting about twice a month with both the union and EGT officials in an effort to keep the stand-off from becoming violent. He said he was frustrated that those efforts failed and said the turn of events could make it difficult to attract business to the area.

 

"If you were thinking about building a large company or even a small company, and you knew that this was going on, would you pick here?" he asked.

 

Nelson acknowledged that many of the protesters came from Seattle, Tacoma and Portland, but he said police have recognized local faces in the crowds and he couldn't rule out the participation of local union members in Thursday morning's raid.

 

For four hours Wednesday, ILWU protesters blocked a train carrying the first major grain shipment to the terminal. Officers arrested 19 people. Nelson said more protesters would have been arrested, but officers had to retreat after they were "rushed by the crowd."

 

Then, around 4:30 a.m. Thursday, hundreds of people stormed the terminal and vandalized property, according to law enforcement. Six guards feared for their safety, police said. Nelson wrote in his statement that a group of protesters tried to block the guards as they made a break for a vehicle and headed toward a back gate.

 

"The lights of approaching law enforcement vehicles stopped the group, and the (security guards) were able to flee," Nelson said.

 

Nelson said the protesters yanked a 48-year-old security guard from his company car, then drove the vehicle "recklessly" around the EGT terminal before crashing it into an embankment. Nelson called the act "a carjacking" and said community members would never tolerate such an incident on a regular street.

 

On Friday, union leaders told a different account of the events. They said protesters were alarmed Wednesday when police handcuffed Bob McEllrath, president of the San Francisco-based international. The union members closed in to protect McEllrath as police hauled him away, labor leaders said. (McEllrath was not booked, and it remains unclear why he was briefly detained.)

 

"We were having a peaceful protest," Jake Whiteside, Local 21 vice president, told port commissioners during a Friday afternoon meeting at the Expo Center. "They rushed down there to arrest us."

 

Union members demanded to know Friday why the 19 protesters were arrested for trespassing on port-owned tracks, when the port never told them to leave. Port attorney Frank Randolph said the port does not allow anyone to trespass on rail lines. In addition, a federal court last week barred the union from blocking trains headed to the grain terminal.

 

The union's leadership disavowed knowledge of the vandalism Thursday morning. Dan Coffman, president of Longview-based Local 21, called the Thursday morning incident a "wildcat action" by ILWU members who decided on their own to storm the terminal. A federal judge in Tacoma is expected to rule next week whether the union has violated a restraining order barring illegal picketing. Coffman told The Daily News on Friday he worries he could face jail time because he is the union's president.

 

Coffman added that he will continue to caution his members against being provoked into violent behavior, noting that Local 21 has a long history of peaceful demonstrations.

 

"We've always been a non-militant Local. Always," he said.

 

But Nelson said he expects "there will be further issues" with the union protesters.

 

Still, he said, "Here's what I expect: I expect these people to act like adults. I expect them to have respect for our system and allow it to work. I expect them to set an example in our community for how things are supposed to be done. They're supposed to be leaders standing up for people. Well, that's not what they're doing."

 

 

Federal judge rejects call to ban all picketing at port

By Barbara LaBoe 

http://tdn.com/news/local/article_b82d6a10-da65-11e0-a703-001cc4c002e0.html

TACOMA — A federal judge Thursday said recent longshore union conduct at the new Longview grain terminal "is patently illegal" and angrily added that "someone is going to be hurt if we don't get control of the situation."

 

However, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Leighton declined a federal government request to bar all picketing at the $200 million EGT Development export facility at the Port of Longview.

 

In Thursday's hearing in Tacoma, Leighton issued an injunction against illegal picketing at the EGT grain terminal, making permanent a temporary restraining order he issued last week. The injunction prohibits the International Longshore and Warehouse Union from blocking rail lines, impeding business, making threats or engaging in violence. Leighton also clarified that the injunction applies to all trains or ships headed to or from EGT, no matter where the train or ship are at the time.

 

If the union or its supporters violate the injunction they could face federal civil contempt charges and fines of up to $25,000 per violation. National Labor Relations Board lawyers asked Leighton to find the union in contempt Thursday. He declined, instead scheduling a hearing on that matter for Sept. 15.

 

Unlike the temporary order, which was directed solely at ILWU local 21 in Longview and 4 in Vancouver, the injunction applies to the entire ILWU, which represents dockworkers across the entire West Coast.

 

Leighton angrily acknowledged during the hearing that the union had repeatedly violated his previous order during the past 48 hours.

 

"I feel a little bit like a paper tiger here," Leighton said, noting union protester's efforts to block railroad tracks and storm the grain terminal. "I don't see that there's a defense here. The conduct is illegal, patently illegal."

 

Leighton also demanded an explanation from the lawyers representing the ILWU. They initially said they had no comment and then added that passions got inflamed when the "working class people fighting to save their jobs" saw San Francisco-based ILWU President Robert McEllrath accosted by police.

 

Leighton was having none of that, though.

 

"I come from a working class background," he said. "And working class people can exercise their rights and still have respect for the law."

 

"Someone is going to get hurt," Leighton said. "Someone is going to be seriously hurt if we don't get control of the situation."

 

After the hearing, Scott Mason, president of the ILWU Local 23 in Tacoma, said the union believes in "peaceful, lawful protest," and added that he didn't believe union members had committed any illegal or violent acts. Mason hasn't been to Longview in the past few days but talked to members of his local who had, he said.

 

EGT CEO Larry Clarke — who attended the Thursday's hearing — said he was pleased with the ruling.

 

"We appreciate the additional restrictions placed on the ILWU, given their recent criminal behavior," Clarke said in a press release, adding any further issues should be "resolved peacefully in a court of law."

 

Leighton told union lawyers they must relay his message to the rank and file that such actions are illegal. He added that the union lawyers had "client control issues."

 

Federal and EGT lawyers argued the situation had gotten so out of hand that all picketing should be banned and union restricted to handing out leaflets, buying billboards and talking to the media to get their points across. Leighton wouldn't go that far, but again reminded the union lawyers that his orders need to be obeyed.

 

"Your clients do no good for their cause behaving like this," Leighton said. "If I had the same respect for the law that your clients do, I would (ban) all picketing."

 

 

 

Pro-ILWU signs leave some business owners in a tough spot

By Tony Lystra

http://tdn.com/news/local/article_454589c8-da84-11e0-9c2d-001cc4c002e0.html

 

...A sign signalling support for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union hangs in the window of Kelly Wallin's downtown Longview hair salon. She says she'll keep it up — for now.

 

Wallin married into a family of longshoremen. Many of her clients are the wives of dockworkers. So, she said Thursday, it's natural that she would stand publicly with the union, which is locked in a battle with the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview.

 

But, she said, allegations that hundreds of union members raided the grain terminal early Thursday morning have shaded that support.

 

Police say protesters yanked a security guard from his car and angrily stormed past a security shack, leaving six security guards fearing they would be injured or killed if they tried to escape. Police have also said some longshoremen carried baseball bats to protests this week, threw rocks at police officers and sprayed some officers with mace.

 

As tensions rise this week at the port, some businesses continued to stand behind the ILWU, while cautioning that if the violence escalates they will have to withdraw their support.

 

"I support the goal, but not the violence," said Wallin, 27, who owns Esteem hair salon on Broadway.

 

Chuck Wardle, a downtown Longview optometrist, said he too will keep his pro-ILWU sign in his office's window. But he said Thursday's events put the community in a difficult position as the public tries to sort fact from fiction.

 

"Peaceful protest is one thing," he said. "Violence is another."

 

Wallin said she fears that if EGT is successful in breaking the union, longshoremen could lose their hold on grain terminals up and down the West Coast. Such high stakes easily attract support in a town that historically has had a big union presence, and that support was visible Thursday on a rooftop sign of the Shamrock Tavern on 15th Avenue in Longview. "We support ILWU," it said.

 

On Thursday afternoon, Margaret Reigel, a 34-year-old bartender at the Shamrock, said the longshoremen "went a little overboard on some of the things they did."

 

Still, she said she'd like her boss to leave the sign up because, "You've got to have good people doing a good job down there (at the port.)"

 

Other businesses were leery of wading into the controversy. A bartender at one Longview bar with messages of support for the union in its windows declined to comment, saying longshoremen regularly drink there.

 

Another downtown Longview salon owner who had a pro-ILWU sign in her window also declined to comment.

 

"I think that we are going to stay out of it," she said.

 

9-7-11

400 union workers protest EGT-bound train, clash with police

By Erik Olson

http://tdn.com/news/local/article_573cb9f8-d9b2-11e0-9dee-001cc4c002e0.htm

 

About 400 union longshoremen blocked a train for about four hours outside the new EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview, but the train passed through Wednesday evening after the protesters were confronted by about 50 officers in riot gear.

 

Nineteen union protesters were arrested and cited for second-degree trespassing, a misdemeanor. Three were arrested when a scuffle broke out with police, and 16 more were arrested when they refused to leave the tracks when the train started up again, Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson said. Deputies say they are also investigating alleged vandalism to the train after it stopped. The names of the arrested were not immediately available Wednesday night.

 

“It was a very, very ugly situation,” Nelson said, adding that he fears the conflict could escalate.

 

Police said a throng of protesters pushed against them, forcing them to beat them away with clubs and pepper spray. Union officials say they worried police were going to arrest Robert McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, for trespassing, so they moved to protect him. McEllrath was not arrested.

 

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe train was stopped near the old Long-Bell log pond about 3:30 p.m., about 200 feet from the crowd. After about an hour, the 107-car train backed up a few hundred feet — bringing a premature roar from the crowd — and remained parked near Pacific Fibre on Fibre Way.

 

The train was operated by union engineers, BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said.

 

After warning protesters twice to clear the tracks, police formed their own line, donning riot helmets and brandishing rifles with rubber bullets. Protesters urged them to stop, and one man yelled, “We stood with you!” at the union police officers.

 

After a three-hour standoff, union leaders urged members to relent — for now.

 

“You can get Maced and tear-gassed and clubbed (today)” or wait for longshore support from all over the West Coast when the next train tries to enter the EGT terminal, McEllrath told protesters after he met with police. “If we leave here, it doesn’t mean that we gave up and quit. It means we’re coming back,” added McEllrath, who is based in the union’s home office in San Francisco.

 

After McEllrath’s announcement, the majority of protesters left, but at 6 p.m. 16 of them sat on the tracks until the train started moving toward the grain terminal at  7 p.m. Police arrested all of them.

 

Dan Coffman, president of the ILWU’s Longview-based Local 21, said at least two union members were hit with pepper spray in the face and another was clubbed. No one was taken to the hospital, but they were treated by other ILWU members with medical expertise, he said.

 

“It’s totally unbelievable that our police force in our county is protecting a multi-national corporation. They’re the thugs, and our guys acted to protect our president,” Coffman said.

 

ILWU members traveled from Portland, Vancouver and other cities to take part in the protest. Nelson said he doesn’t expect tensions to lessen.

 

“If the pattern holds true, I’m going to say it’s going to get worse,” he said. “We haven’t had these kinds of issues with our local people.”

 

Union dock workers also held up the train in downtown Vancouver for a few hours Wednesday morning.

 

Wednesday’s confrontations were the most serious in the ongoing labor dispute since seven longshore picketers were arrested outside the terminal July 25. Another was arrested Aug. 29.

 

The mile-long train from Minnesota was carrying thousands of tons of corn, EGT’s first grain shipment that will head to market. The $200 million terminal has been in the testing phase.

 

Union efforts to block grain deliveries are in apparent violation of a federal court order issued last week, according to Rich Ahearn, director of the National Labor Relations Board’s Seattle office.

 

About 50 officers from the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s office, Longview and Kelso police and the Washington State Patrol showed up after the number of union protesters swelled as word of the train’s arrival spread.

 

The ILWU contends that EGT is obligated to hire its members to run the new terminal under the company’s lease with the Port of Longview. Talks between the union and EGT broke off in January, and EGT this summer hired union workers from the International Operating Engineers local 701, based in Gladstone, Ore., to operate the terminal.

 

 “This is the latest in a very long line of actions that longshore men are taking to stand up to a foreign company that’s trying to get a foothold in Washington and undermine the grain industry,” ILWU spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent said during the morning protest in Vancouver.

 

Portland-based EGT is owned by a domestic/international partnership consisting of St. Louis-based Bunge North America, Japan-based Itochu Corp. and Korean shipper Pan Ocean STX.

 

Last week, a federal judge ordered a temporary restraining order against ILWU Local 21 in Longview and Local 4 in Vancouver barring illegal picketing against EGT. Union members have harassed and threatened EGT workers numerous times during the dispute, according to the NLRB.

 

The Vancouver protesters were monitored by several Burlington Northern Santa Fe police vehicles, including a police dog.

 

Larry Clarke, EGT’s CEO, said he hopes future problems can be resolved peacefully.

 

“We have made an investment in Cowlitz County that we believe will bring long term benefits to the community and we are committed to providing family-wage union jobs and delivering those benefits as soon as possible,” Clarke said in a written statement.

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Summer of Strife

 

The dispute between the Longview-based International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 and EGT Development has been simmering for more than a year but really boiled over this summer. The union contends a contract with the Port of Longview and long-standing union jurisdiction give longshoremen the right to work at EGT's new $200 million grain export terminal. EGT disagrees, saying it needs its own people running the state-of-the-art controls at the terminal. Here's a brief history of dispute for 2011.

 

May 20 - More than 150 union workers stage an informational picket at the 15th Avenue and Oregon Way intersection in Longview, urging EGT to hire ILWU workers.

 

June 3 - More than 1,000 regional union longshoremen rally outside EGT's Portland headquarters.

 

July 11 - In one of the boldest labor demonstrations in recent memory, 100 union protestors are arrested after tearing down a chain link gate and protesting inside the EGT grain terminal property.

 

July 14 - Hundreds of union protestors block railroad tracks to keep a train from delivering grain to the terminal. Burlington Northern Santa Fe stops all rail shipments to EGT, citing safety concerns.

 

July 16 - EGT announces it will hire union workers - but not the longshoremen.

 

July 19 - An Oregon branch of union operating engineers says it will accept EGT grain terminal jobs. The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 701 is based in Gladstone, Ore.

 

July 22 - EGT closes terminal due to more than 100 union picketers blocking access. One protestor arrested.

 

July 25 - Seven union workers arrested and another injured at grain terminal picket line. First felony arrest for one protestor allegedly threatening to kill someone driving onto EGT property. Police say union was "substantially more aggressive." Work at the grain terminal resumed after police escorted about 15 to 20 EGT employees past picket lines.

 

Aug. 29 - The federal National Labor Relations Board files an unfair labor practices complaint against lLWU, alleging "aggressive" picketing.

 

Sept. 1 - Federal judge issues a 10-day temporary restraining order against the longshoremen's union, barring it from "unlawful ... picket line violence," including blocking access to the terminal.

 

Sept. 7 - Longshore protestors block grain train bound for EGT terminal, stopping it for several hours in Vancouver and then again in Longview before relenting and letting it pass.

 

Sept. 8 - A federal judge in Tacoma is scheduled to rule on whether or not to make the restraining order permanent.

 

9-1-11

Federal judge issues restraining order against ILWU members

By Erik Olson

http://tdn.com/news/local/article_b77ac7a8-d50f-11e0-affa-001cc4c002e0.html

 

A federal judge in Tacoma Thursday issued a temporary restraining order against the local longshore union that may clear the way for grain deliveries to the new $200 million EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview.

 

The order, which will be in effect for 10 days, prohibits union members from engaging in "unlawful ... picket line violence, threats and property damage, mass picketing and blocking of ingress and egress at the facility of EGT," U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton wrote.

 

Leighton's order also restricts International Longshore and Warehouse Union members from "restraining or coercing the employees of EGT, (its subcontractor General Construction), or any other person doing business in relation to the EGT facility."

 

A second hearing is scheduled Sept. 8 to decide whether to make the order permanent, said Richard Ahearn, director of the Seattle office of the National Labor Relations Board, which filed for the order Wednesday after receiving a complaint from EGT. Leighton was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush in 2002.

 

Union protests have prevented train deliveries of grain to the plant since July, when hundreds of ILWU protesters blocked a mile-long train from entering the terminal. Burlington Northern Santa Fe representatives could not be reached late Thursday afternoon about whether the company will resume rail shipments as result of Leighton's order. The grain terminal is largely complete and was in a testing stage when EGT's conflict with longshore union interrupted grain shipments.

 

Dan Coffman, president of the ILWU Local 21, said the union will continue its two-month long picket on port-owned property outside EGT gates, adding that union members won't block vehicles or break any laws. In past incidents, union officials have blamed EGT for instigating trouble that lead to past ILWU arrests.

 

ILWU attorneys believe the order allows union members to maintain a presence at the site, Coffman said Thursday.

 

"We will not leave. We will still be there," he said.

 

Coffman said he did not know if union members would seek to block another incoming train

 

Only 16 picketers are allowed on port property at once, according to a union agreement with the port and Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson.

 

Leighton's order should quiet down activity at the terminal, where more than 100 longshore protesters have been arrested since July 11. Local 21 has been pressuring EGT to hire its members to run the facility, saying EGT is obligated to do so under its lease agreement with the port and an agreement between the port and union. Talks between EGT and ILWU broke off in January, and this summer EGT hired union operators employed by General Construction Co. of Federal Way to run the terminal.

 

In a written statement following Leighton's order Thursday, EGT CEO Larry Clarke said the order will help protect EGT employees and subcontractors and he is "eager to get the terminal up and running safely and efficiently." He did not say when he expects the terminal to start receiving grain shipments.

 

On Monday, the NLRB filed a formal complaint against the ILWU, alleging multiple incidents of harassment and threatening of EGT employees and vandalism of the company's property. A hearing is scheduled Oct. 11 in Portland.

 

 

 9-16-11

101-KXL FM - Portland OR

Longshoremen Stand Outside Jail But Sheriff Won't Arrest Them

Jeremy Scott

http://www.kxl.com/kxl-news/AUDIO--Longshoremen-Stand-Outside-Jail-But-Sheriff/10937273

 

Members of the ILWU Local 21 have been arrested for staging protests; some which authorities say have been violent.  However, when they stood outside the Cowlitz County Jail on Friday afternoon, the sheriff refused to go out and arrest any of them.  Vice President Jake Whiteside was later arrested for an incident the week before when he's accused of blocking a train.

 

A federal judge has found the union in contempt of court for defying orders and allegedly destroying property, menacing guards and stopping trains.  Members are outraged over the hiring of other workers at a Longview grain terminal by EGT, who they say is not honoring their agreements.

 

The union showed up to try put an end to what they call "abusive, sensationalistic arrests" at all hours of the day and night.  The sheriff's office says they don't do business on anybody else's timeline.  No laws were broken during Friday's demonstration, which authorities call peaceful and what they expect from protestors.

 

This is a small selection from the Longview Daily News coverage of the battle between the ILWU (thier neighbors, friends and relatives) and a consortium of three global corporations.-- blj 

 

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