Longshore workers attack grain terminal

Longshore workers block train

In a dispute over the new EGT Grain Terminal in Longview, Washington and management's refusal to recognize the International Longshore and Warehouse Union as the workers' representative, union militants attacked the facility to sabotage the facility's first shipment of grain, protesting in defiance of a court injunction.

EGT Confrontation

Posted 8 September 2011

After yesterday’s confrontation at the EGT Grain Terminal, where 19 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union were arrested, another demonstration is developing this morning, with an estimated 1,000 local union members descending on the facility, starting at about 4:40 am. Around 400 were involved in yesterday’s demonstration on the railroad tracks, starting about 3:30 pm.

Protesting union members blocked the tracks and squared off against about 40 law enforcement officers equipped in tactical helmets, with some carrying bean-bag shotguns and pepper-ball guns. Three were arrested in the original confrontation, then a standoff of about an hour took place. At about 4:35 pm, the 107-car train backed up about 200 yards, to the cheers of the crowd. At that time, ILWU National President Robert McEllrath told the crowd that it was time to back off, to “live to fight another day.”

McEllrath emphasizes that this fight is not against Burlington Northern/Santa Fe and their union workers, it’s against a multinational corporation that trying to take union jobs…..Most of the crowd left after McEllrath’s speech, with just a few lingering on the tracks. Around 7 pm, they started moving the train again, and 16 were arrested at that time. All are being charged with second-degree trespassing.

This morning, the protestors actually entered the plant site, storming the security guards at the facility. None of those people were attacked or injured, but they report that the protestors took a Columbia Security vehicle, then drove it into a ditch. Windows were also broken out on the guard shack. Speaking with local law enforcement from a hiding place in the plant, the security guards reported that the protestors went in and cut hoses on the train that had entered the facility. After doing that damage, those involved in the confrontation quickly left, while law enforcement resources were staging nearby. Shortly after 6 am, law enforcement set up a perimeter around the plant, planning to arrest all remaining protestors on the property.

At this point, it’s not known how many will be facing charges. Officers entering the property around 6:30 am reported finding that a gate had been torn down, and that hoppers had been opened on at least 100 grain cars, spilling their contents. Union officials are expected to be in Federal court in Tacoma this afternoon, as a hearing is held regarding the Temporary Restraining Order issued against the ILWU last week.

At that time, Judge Ronald Leighton was extremely adamant that the union not engage in picket line violence, vandalism, or other blocking of ingress and egress to the facility. Yesterday’s demonstration and this morning’s events would appear to be major violations of those orders. Today’s hearing is scheduled for 1:30 pm in Federal court in Tacoma.

From radio station KLOG's website.

Also see New York Times' coverage.

Posted By

Hieronymous
Sep 8 2011 16:56

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Steven.
Sep 8 2011 20:38

Now there is also a wildcat strike of longshoreman in Seattle. News reports say it is unclear if they are related at the moment:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016144631_apwaunionclashseattle.html

plasmatelly
Sep 8 2011 20:56

Get in! This is more like it!

Chilli Sauce
Sep 8 2011 21:46

Too tired to sort it out myself, but what's the mainstream media coverage looking like?

Hieronymous
Sep 8 2011 22:09
Steven. wrote:
Now there is also a wildcat strike of longshoreman in Seattle. News reports say it is unclear if they are related at the moment...

I think that this is spreading like a wildcat action (I could be wrong).

Check this out (the first photos are from yesterday):

A crowd of union workers and supporters gather at a railroad crossing as a train passes through in Vancouver, Wash. Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011. Hundreds of Longshoremen were at the crossing to block the pathway of a train, as part of an escalating dispute about labor at the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview, Wash (all photos in this thread from The Daily News Online: Serving the Lower Columbia)

O.K., the above protest is at a railroad crossing in Vancouver, WA, which is at least 40 miles from the Port of Longview.

The Ports of Tacoma and Seattle also shut down as longshore workers failed to show up to work today (September 8), as seen below:

A sign, at right, announces that all terminals are closed at the Port of Tacoma, near an entrance to a shipping terminal, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011, in Tacoma, Wash. In Seattle and Tacoma, both ports were shut down after hundreds of Longshore workers failed to show up for work on Thursday in connection with a union dispute at the Port of Longview in Washington state.

A normally bustling staging area for trucks carrying cargo containers is deserted at the APM terminal at the Port of Tacoma, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011, in Tacoma, Wash. In Seattle and Tacoma, both ports were shut down after hundreds of Longshore workers failed to show up for work on Thursday in connection with a union dispute at the Port of Longview in Washington state.

The handiwork of saboteurs today:

A photo provided by EGT Terminal shows grain dumped from rail cars during a union dispute at the Port of Longview in Longview, Wash., Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011. Hundreds of Longshore workers stormed the Port of Longview, overpowered security guards, damaged rail cars and dumped grain at the center of a labor dispute that has spread to Seattle and Tacoma ports, officials said Thursday.

Protesters opened the bottom doors of dozens of grain hoppers at the terminal, allowing the grain to spill on the tracks.

Union Longshoremen and their supporters who stormed the EGT Grain Terminal early Thursday morning shattered a window on a guard's shack and allegedly detained the guard while vandalizing company property.

This car, owned by a security company retained by EGT, was allegedly seized by protesters, driven into a ditch and later removed by police.

Going toe-to-toe with the pigs yesterday:

A Cowlitz County Sheriff grabs a union worker by the throat as police move in on several hundred union workers blocking a grain train in Longview, Wash., Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011. Longshoremen blocked the train as part of an escalating dispute about labor at the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview.
Shortly after 4 p.m. (September 7), two protestors broke through a police line and were brought to the ground.

More from yesterday's train blockade:

A union worker blocks a grain train in Longview, Wash., Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011. Longshoremen blocked the train as part of an escalating dispute about labor at the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview

Hieronymous
Sep 8 2011 22:25

The following ports are completely shut down as of right now (3:15 p.m. PST):

--Seattle (130 miles from Longview)

--Everett (160 miles)

--Tacoma (90 miles)

redsdisease
Sep 8 2011 23:11

Add Portland to that list. There was a walkout yesterday.

http://news.opb.org/article/port-portland-back-business-after-work-walkout/

Quote:
Executives at the Port of Portland say business is back to usual after a whirlwind work stoppage Wednesday.

Longshore union workers did not unload four ships delivering cars and picking-up grain and steel.

The stoppage was not aimed specifically at the Port of Portland. Workers at ports up and down the Columbia and the Puget Sound were involved. They apparently walked out in sympathy with International Longshore and Warehouse Union members who want to operate a new grain terminal in Longview.

A national ILWU spokesman says the action was not orchestrated from headquarters. Port of Portland spokesman, Josh Thomas, says things are back to normal at his site.

"Business as usual at the Port of Portland today. Our terminals are open for business. Gates opened on time and trucks are being processed," Thomas said.

Thomas would not say how many workers were involved in Wednesday's stoppage. But about 500 union members stopped trains Wednesday, and stormed the new grain terminal in Longview early Thursday morning. Longview's Police Chief says they damaged railcars and other property.

edit: After reading Steven.'s comment above, it looks like they might taken the day off to protest (block?) the train in Vancouver, WA (right across the river from Portland), which is cool.

bastarx
Sep 9 2011 00:24

Baseball bat as handle for placard, badass.

Comrade Motopu
Sep 9 2011 02:52

Dear God this might hurt Obama's re-election campaign!

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904836104576558962404370264.html

A Union Goes Too Far
Violence by unionized longshoreman is noticed by the NLRB.

It turns out a union can go so far that even the current National Labor Relations Board can't turn a blind eye. A grain operator at the Port of Longview in Washington state was hit with a violent strike yesterday by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). Longshoreman walked out at nearby ports in Tacoma and Seattle.

According to police reports, some 500 longshoreman broke in at about 4:30 a.m. Thursday morning and held six security guards hostage for two hours while the protesters rampaged through the facility. They cut brake lines on railroad cars and spilled grain from boxcars.

The grain terminal under attack is owned by EGT, LLC, which is a joint venture of U.S., Japanese and South Korean companies. The consortium built the facility for $200 million and announced it would employ non-union longshoreman to save $1 million a year in operating costs. Contract negotiations between EGT and the union broke down earlier this year. The facility has been under physical assault since July.

On August 31, the NLRB issued a complaint accusing the union of taking "violent and aggressive" actions, destroying EGT's property and harassing its employees. In response to an NLRB request, federal Judge Ronald B. Leighton issued a temporary restraining order, which the union has ignored. It would have been impossible for the NLRB not to have issued a complaint when a union is publicly trashing people and property.

There is some concern that the strike against the two big ports could spread to other important U.S. points of entry if ILWU shops begin slowdowns in sympathy with the union in Washington state. If that happens, the events yesterday will become a national issue demanding the attention of a President who is desperately trying to hold his union base together. This one is worth watching.

Chilli Sauce
Sep 9 2011 06:53

This is fucking sick!

That pick with the baseball bat: labour pick of the year!

Steven.
Sep 9 2011 09:52
Hieronymous
Sep 10 2011 15:19

Now here the longshore workers show the proper policy toward bourgeois media:

Hieronymous
Sep 17 2011 07:46

Post by some Olympia insurrectionists, with accounts of their discussions with the strikers, longshore retirees, and supporters in Longview:

http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=201109161208

Chilli Sauce
Sep 17 2011 07:48

Jesus. Insurrectionists.

gram negative
Sep 17 2011 15:30

what is wrong with that write-up? i think that it is positive that they went and built relationships with the longshore workers.

Steven.
Sep 17 2011 15:51

Yeah, some of it is a bit rubbish (like not going to the big meeting, where presumably they were going to make some decisions about how to take the struggle forwards because "meetings are boring") but overall I thought it was quite sweet

Chilli Sauce
Sep 18 2011 08:43

Yeah, I was probably a bit harsh but...

Quote:
we told them that we were just two anarchist rebels from Olympia
Juan Conatz
Sep 18 2011 17:41

The Oregon AFL-CIO has passed a resolution condemning Operating Engeneers Local 701 for basically scabbing.

ILWU has been protesting OE Local 701 union hall and circulating thisletter, too
http://www.ilwu.org/?p=2736

fnbrill
Sep 18 2011 20:33

There's a bunch of context that needs to be explained. Unlike most of the other ports on the US West Coast, the Columbia River Ports - Portland; Vancouver, Washington; Longview; Kalama and Astoria) are primarily bulk terminals vs. container terminals. Most US wheat exports go through these ports as well as raw timber, potatoes and other agricultural products. The EGT terminal is the first new grain facility on the Columbia River system in something like 40 years. Obviously there are efficiencies at a newer facility so lower staffing as well as breaking the union would force all the other facilities in the Columbia River system to follow suit. It's interesting that the Container Ports (eg Seattle and Tacoma) have been more likely to wildcat than the bulk Ports, curious if this is a strategy or symbolic of other dynamics within the union.

Chilli Sauce
Sep 18 2011 20:49

So what ports are still on strike?

Juan Conatz
Sep 18 2011 21:01

i think the only strikes lasted 1 day

Hieronymous
Sep 19 2011 14:56

Fnbrill makes a crucial point: the EGT terminal in Longview is aimed at exporting grain.

wikipedia wrote:
More than 100 countries now import wheat. Some 40 countries import rice. Iran and Egypt rely on imports for 40 percent of their grain supply. Algeria, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan import 70% or more. Israel and Yemen import more than 90%. And just 6 countries - the US, Canada, France Australia, Argentina and Thailand - supply 90% of grain exports. The US alone controls almost half of world grain exports.

EGT is a joint venture between Bunge North America, ITOCHU (Japan) and STX Pan Ocean (South Korea). Here's what their website says about the terminal:

Bunge wrote:
World trade is growing and will continue to do so. That's why Bunge is building a state-of-the art export grain terminal at the Port of Longview in Washington State that will link U.S. farmers to customers in growing Asian markets.

The Port of Longview project is the first export terminal built in the United States in more than two decades, and has the capacity to handle more than 8 million metric tons of grain, oilseeds and protein meals annually. It features a rail loop track unloading system, a highly efficient shuttle train unloading system and the capability to unload barges from the Columbia River.

When completed in late 2011, the facility will join Bunge's other terminals which serve North America's major export corridors, including Quebec City in the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Port of Brunswick in Georgia and New Orleans.

EGT will go to the wheat fields to have near-monopolistic control over the supply train from its source:

Bunge wrote:
EGT to build two facilities in Montana

Portland, Ore.: EGT, LLC, a joint venture between Bunge North America, ITOCHU and STX Pan Ocean, announced it is building two high capacity shuttle train loaders in Montana. The facilities to be built in Chester and Kintyre Flats will ensure that EGT can efficiently ship wheat from a key growing region to the company's export grain terminal currently under construction in Longview, Washington.

"Montana consistently supplies high quality wheat, particularly hard red winter, northern spring and dark northern spring wheat to export markets that are important to EGT," said Larry Clarke, president and CEO, EGT, LLC. "These state-of-the-art facilities will be built on the BNSF mainline, ensuring efficient movement along the value chain from our farmer customers in Montana to vessels and finally to the end consumer."

Each high-speed shuttle loader is capable of loading 110-car unit train in under ten hours. The facilities are also designed to provide farmers with fast weighing, grading and dumping, offering best-in-class cycle times. In addition, the facilities will be able to store about 800,000 bushels apiece.

Remember the food riots that swept at least 33 countries in 2008? What caused them? There's no easy answer, but since the 1990s Wall Street, and especially firms like Goldman Sachs, saw the fortunes to be made on speculating on food. Here's a great article by Frederick Kaufman, in the July 2010 Harper's Magazine, about speculation in wheat: "The Food Bubble: How Wall Street starved millions and got away with it".

EGT is doing what Wal-Mart does, but in reverse. Wal-Mart has total control of global supply chains from the factories of China to their retail stores in North America. EGT, and multinational giants like it, are trying to do the same from the farms of North America to the food consumers of Asia -- and elsewhere.

syndicalist
Sep 20 2011 12:56

No Arrests as ILWU Members, Supporters Attempt to Turn Themselves In
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/09/17-0#.TnU3CvnZqI4.facebook
Published on Saturday, September 17, 2011 by The Daily News (Longview, Washington)

syndicalist
Oct 3 2011 13:30

Federal Judge Sets ILWU Fine at $250,000

By Erik Olson The Daily News
Friday, September 30, 2011 6:15 pm

http://tdn.com/news/local/article_a200fd7a-eb8a-11e0-94fc-001cc4c002e0.html

TACOMA — A federal judge Friday ordered the longshore union to pay a $250,000 fine for vandalism and other illegal activity during September protests at the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview — and he warned that individual protesters could face their own penalties for future violations of his orders.

The amount was $43,000 less than attorneys for the National Labor Relations Board had requested to cover damage at the terminal, law-enforcement overtime costs and attorney fees. Attorneys for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said they will appeal, arguing that the damage estimates were "general, unsubstantiated and inflated."

"That's a lot of money," said union attorney Robert Remar.

But U.S. District Court Judge Robert Leighton said acting quickly to impose a fine was more important than determining the precise amount of damages. He said he rounded down from the NLRB's original $293,000 request because he considered parts of it inflated.

"I reject an argument that we need to delay. Everyone else wants to slow-walk it, except the (Cowlitz) County commissioners," Leighton said, referring to commissioners' request this week for expedited court action to settle the legal dispute between EGT, the longshore union and Port of Longview. "What's going on there is awful, and I'm going to do something about it," Leighton said.

In addition, Leighton ruled that any individuals who trespass on rail tracks or break the law in future protests will be subject to a $2,500 fine. For union officers, the fine jumps to $5,000.

Leighton also ordered a suspended $25,00 fine for the ILWU for protests on Sept. 7 and Sept. 8, when union supporters blocked an incoming grain train and then allegedly damaged the train and EGT property inside the terminal. A suspended fine means the union won't have to pay it unless it missteps again.

On Oct. 14, Leighton will hold another hearing on alleged violations of his contempt order in connection with a Sept. 21 protest in which 12 ILWU members and supporters were arrested for sitting on the tracks to block a train. Three of those arrested were affiliated with Longview-based Local 21 leadership: President Dan Coffman, Executive Board member Kelly Muller and Treasurer Byron Jacobs.

Union attorneys say the three won't be fined if found in violation of the contempt order because their actions occurred before Leighton's Friday ruling.

The union and EGT have been in a months-long dispute over the company's refusal to hire union longshore labor to run the new $200 million terminal at the Port of Longview. The union and the port contend EGT's lease agreement with the port obligates it to hire the ILWU. EGT disputes that.

In a written statement, union spokesman Leal Sundet called Leighton's imposition of the fine "rough justice."

"What the court engaged in here is back-of-the napkin guesstimates. There is no attempt to distinguish events arguably connected with what the union is accused of doing on the 7th and 8th of September 2011 and those events that are unrelated to any alleged union conduct," Sundet said.

On Sept. 15, Leighton found the union in contempt of his civil order barring the blocking of trains and vandalism at the site. The week before, on Sept. 7, about 400 longshoremen stood on railroad tracks and blocked a train bound for the terminal for four hours. The next morning, hundreds of people broke into the terminal, smashed a security station, spilled grain from rail cars and harassed security guards. Union leaders blamed "wildcat" ILWU members for the damage and said the raid was not authorized by the leadership.

"It is unfortunate that today's actions was necessary. Our society is bound by the rule of law, and every individual and entity must be held accountable for their actions," EGT CEO Larry Clarke said in a written statement.

According to the NLRB, which sought the original contempt charge, damages from the protests include:

• Nearly $140,000 in damage and compensation to EGT and $13,000 to Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad. That includes $80,000 in lost grain for the 9,855 bushels spilled during the event. Damage to a railcar was just over $1,000 and damage to a security vehicle was $1,400. It also includes EGT overtime costs and lawyers fees.

• Just over $76,000 in police overtime costs, including the Cowlitz County sheriff's office, the Longview and Kelso police departments and the Washington State Patrol. (The Kelso estimates also include costs from Sept. 9-10; Cowlitz County included costs from protests in July and said more were forthcoming.)

• About $66,000 in NLRB attorney fees to compile the damage and compensation figures.

If Friday's fine stands, NLRB will distribute it to affected parties on a pro-rated basis, according to Rich Ahearn, director of the NLRB Seattle office.

Joseph Kay
Oct 6 2011 01:13
Quote:
The fact a police officer was threaten with a baseball bat and then the police officer had to back down makes this situation complete anarchy.

Yeah. It's great isn't it! red n black star

tastybrain
Oct 6 2011 02:20
donharte98 wrote:
Unless they arrest everyone involved with this, it will send a message that if you break the law in masses you can get away with it. Just because 500 people did this at once does not make it right. The fact a police officer was threaten with a baseball bat and then the police officer had to back down makes this situation complete anarchy.

Lol. Did that actually happen?

Samotnaf
Oct 6 2011 02:42

donharte98:

Quote:
a police officer was threaten with a baseball bat....

It's just not cricket!

syndicalist
Oct 6 2011 12:38

I found this interesting. In the sense of connecting the OWS efforts and the Longview struggle. An effort to share and link struggles...at least on paper.

Excerpted from: "ILWU Int’l President Bob McEllrath releases solidarity statement in support of ‘Occupy Wall Street’

..."Your decision to bring these and other issues to corporate America’s doorstep is courageous – and involves some risks. We weren’t surprised that some of you have faced beatings and pepper spray from overzealous police. Your crusade to shine a light on the corruption and injustice that’s infecting Wall Street is bound to ruffle some feathers. We’ve experienced some similar rough treatment in Longview, Washington, where ILWU families are also taking a stand against corporate greed. Our fight there is against EGT, a multi-national corporation that took taxpayer subsidies to build a grain export terminal – then betrayed workers and the community."

http://www.longshoreshippingnews.com/2011/10/ilwu-int%e2%80%99l-president-bob-mcellrath-releases-solidarty-statement-in-support-of-%e2%80%98occupy-wall-street%e2%80%99/

Steven.
Jan 27 2012 10:16

Interestingly, I have only just noticed that the right-wing troll, above was actually a spammer! The least the spammers could do is pretend to agree with our politics

syndicalist
Oct 9 2012 17:04