Picketing at EGT Development at the Port of Longview, Oregon, by members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has indefinitely shut down its $200 million grain terminal.
The 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. 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.
On Friday morning, more than 100 ILWU Local 21 dock workers “set up a picket line and blocked employees and contractors from entering the site.”
One protester was arrested on two counts of malicious mischief “for allegedly breaking the antenna off an EGT employee’s vehicle and throwing an egg at another car.” At an earlier protest on July 11, about 90 protesters were arrested “when ILWU members allegedly tore down a fence and blocked EGT workers for handling grain.”
On July 14, at least 200 union dock workers “crowded onto railroad tracks to block a mile-long train from delivering grain to the EGT terminal to the Port of Longview.” The 107-car train had to be “rerouted to Vancouver following the standoff, which prompted Burlington Northern Santa Fe to indefinitely suspend train traffic to the grain terminal.”
At issue is EGT’s decision to hire non-union dock workers:
- EGT executives say they can save $1 million by employing non-union labor and insist they have the right to do so when they open the new $200 million terminal later this summer. Local 21 leaders say the union has a contract for all longshore work on Port of Longview property, which is where the grain terminal was built.
At stake are about 50 union jobs. If EGT is successful, it would be the first time in decades that a West Coast grain terminal has operated without union labor.
How big is this grain terminal? It was reported in November 2009:
- Think about the scope of the Port of Longview’s latest development this way: The new grain terminal can export enough wheat, corn, soybeans in one year to fill a line of rail cars stretch 743 miles, roughly the distance from Longview to San Francisco.
Longshoremen could load and unload the equivalent weight of 1 million African elephants in a year — 8 million metric tons a year.
The grain terminal, which Portland-based EGT Development started building this summer, could by itself handle the demand for soybean imports into Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand for a year. If the Longview terminal were built a few hundred miles north, it could have handled all the barley exported from Canada for 10 months of 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. …
Company officials say the Longview terminal will capture some grain from the American heartland now shipped to Asia through New Orleans and the Panama Canal.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture also predicted that by 2019 China’s demand for soybeans would “increase by 21.6 million metric tons — about 80 percent of the growth in worldwide demand for exports.”
This is, without a doubt, a very significant grain terminal, not only for the union dock workers but also for the grain growers who will use it and countries who are purchasing the American grain.
But what happens if union dock workers at other ports should also decide to picket? Will they be allowed to indefinitely shut down shipping operations?
And, by the way, where is the Obama administration on this? I honestly have to say I have seen zero comment made by any government authorities in the news reports, which appear to originate only locally. This is a union matter and we all know that the fate of union workers come before any other American citizens.
It also bears mentioning that one of Barack Obama’s Marxist mentors, Frank Marshall Davis, wrote a weekly column, called “Frank-ly Speaking”, for the Honolulu Record, a labor paper published by the communist-controlled ILWU in Hawaii.
The ILWU was headed by Harry Bridges, who was prosecuted by the U.S. government during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Though Bridges was convicted by a federal jury of having lied about his Communist Party membership, this was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1953.