Condemn Use of U.S. Military to Escort Scab Grain Ship in Longview WA

San Francisco Labor Council Resolution – Adopted Jan. 9, 2012 by unanimous vote

Whereas, EGT, a joint venture led by multinational grain giant Bunge, agreed to hire union Longshoremen when accepting millions in taxpayer funds to build a huge new grain exporting terminal at the Port of Longview WA, but once the terminal was built has tried to void its contract and refused to hire ILWU labor. With the use of brutal police and courts and 220 arrests in the 225 member ILWU Local 21, EGT has managed to get enough scab grain across picket lines into the new terminal that EGT appears poised to load a ship soon in violation of their agreement with the port;  and

Whereas, a solidarity caravan of thousands of union members and community activists – endorsed by ILWU Locals 10 and 21, the S.F. and Cowlitz County (Longview) labor councils and many others – is being organized to support our brothers and sisters in Longview, for an emergency mass protest when requested to do so, to confront union-busting by Wall Street on the Waterfront; and

Whereas, according to Longshore & Shipping News, within a month, the empty grain ship will be escorted by armed U.S. Coast Guard vessels and helicopters, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the EGT facility. The Coast Guard is an integral part of the US Armed Forces, operating under the Department of Homeland Security (except when engaged in combat operations abroad, as it did in Iraq, when it operates under the Navy); and

Whereas, this is the first known use of the US military to intervene in a labor dispute on the side of management in 40 years – not since the Great 1970 Postal Strike when President Nixon called out the Army and National Guard in an (unsuccessful) attempt to break the strike. The use of the Armed Forces against labor unions is something you expect to see in a police state. Continue reading

Protest planned for first ship to dock at EGT grain terminal

September 2011 protest at Longview Port

Protest planned for first ship to dock at EGT grain terminal

By Erik Olson / The Daily News | Friday, January 6, 2012

The U.S. Coast Guard will escort the first ship coming to the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview this month, and the Occupy movement and local labor groups say they are planning to greet the vessel with a massive protest.

EGT officials say they have not scheduled a date for the ship’s arrival. The freighter is expected to haul thousands of tons of grain to Asia, but opposition groups are already marshaling their forces to support the lengthy protest by union dock workers at the grain terminal.

“We just want to swell the population of the city to show there are people behind us,” said Jeff Washburn, president of the Cowlitz Wahkiakum Central Labor Council, which passed a resolution calling for a protest this week.

He added that the labor council plans no attempt to stop the ship, a sentiment echoed in a similar call for protest by leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

However, the Occupy movement it taking a more aggressive stance, calling for members nationwide to gather outside Port of Longview gates and thwart efforts to load the ship, said Paul Nipper, an organizer for Occupy Longview. The group shut down the ports coastwide, including Longview, Dec. 8.

The Coast Guard will deploy one or two vessels to escort the grain ship up the Columbia River, with more on call if necessary, said Lt. Lucas Elder, a spokesman for Coast Guard’s Portland-based marine safety unit. Other law-enforcement agencies will also be present, he said. Continue reading

Longview, Washington: “The ILWU Cannot Lose This Fight”

Counterpunch, January 10, 2012

The Looming Showdown in Longview

by BEN SCHREINER

The long-simmering dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the international consortium EGT Development transpiring in Longview, Washington looks to be coming to a head.

September 2011 protest at Longview Poert

In a January 3 letter addressed to his members, ILWU International President Robert McEllrath disclosed that EGT will soon attempt to commence operations at its new $200 million grain terminal located at the Port of Longview.  As McEllrath wrote, “We believe that at some point this month a vessel will call at the EGT facility in Longview, Washington…Prepare to take action when the EGT vessel arrives.”

The Struggle and Its Stakes

At the heart of the Longview dispute has been EGT’s refusal to hire longshoremen from ILWU Local 21 to work its grain terminal at the Port of Longview. The publicly owned port—as with all West Coast public port docks—has been worked exclusively by the ILWU for decades.

Dismissing this hard-won jurisdiction, EGT chose to break off negotiations with the ILWU last year and contract with a third party employing labor from International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 701.  The ILWU argues that this is in direct violation of EGT’s lease agreement with the Port of Longview, which explicitly stipulates all port work is to indeed be done by the ILWU.

For its part, IUOE Local 701 has been widely condemned within the Northwest labor community, with many accusing the local of conspiring with EGT to break the ILWU.  Both the Washington and Oregon state AFL-CIO bodies, along with numerous other unions, have already passed resolutions condemning Local 701.  The July resolution passed by the Oregon AFL-CIO described 701’s actions at the EGT terminal as “scab labor.”

The national AFL-CIO, on the other hand, has remained conspicuously muted on the dispute.  No mention of the ILWU’s struggle in Longview can be found on the federation’s website or blog.  In fact, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has referred to the entire matter as a mere “jurisdictional dispute.” Continue reading