More than 400 angry longshoremen forced their way into a grain shipping facility in Longview, Wash., on Thursday where they held security guards captive, attacked a cargo train and pushed a private security vehicle into a ditch.
The early morning protest, during which members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union cut train brake lines and dumped cargo, came after a clash Wednesday with police on railroad tracks near Vancouver, Wash., where protesters stood to block cargo trains from reaching an export terminal 45 miles away.
The outburst of violent protests comes after a long summer of labor unrest in the area, where the $200 million shipping facility was built on the site of one that had for 80 years been operated by members of the ILWU. The ILWU has insisted that its members have the right to work at the new plant as well, but contractors for the facility have hired members of a different labor union. —BF
Los Angeles Times:
In a letter to union members, ILWU International President Robert McEllrath noted that union members work at all grain export facilities in the Pacific Northwest, and worked at a previous grain facility on the site of EGT’s new operation.
“This constitutes an assault on over 80 years of longshore jurisdiction—an assault that could fundamentally change the dynamics of the relationship within the grain industry as a whole. It is critical to the Longshore Division that this does not happen,” he wrote.
He said longshoremen had been in negotiations to work with EGT but talks broke down in April over what he said was EGT’s demand to have longshoremen work 12-hour shifts without any overtime pay and other issues.
AP / Don Ryan
A union protester stands near railroad tracks at a crossing in Vancouver, Wash., on Wednesday. Hundreds of longshoremen were at the crossing as part of an escalating dispute over a grain export terminal in Longview, Wash.