Violent Union Mob Mayhem in Washington State

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In Longview, Washington, union thuggery has ramped up to a new level. On September 8th at around 4:30AM, hundreds of union workers broke down the gates and stormed the Port of Longview, where they “detained” six security guards for two hours. Their fellow unionists converged on the EGT terminal, where they cut the brake lines of several rail cars and dumped the grain contained in them. Windows in the guard shack were smashed, and a security vehicle was pushed into a ditch. No arrests were made, despite Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha’s characterization that the guards being held were “hostages.” He also said something far more ominous. “We’re not surprised,” he explained. “A lot of the protesters were telling us this is only the start.”

The Police Chief is somewhat misinformed. The dispute between EGT, a joint venture of U.S., Japanese and South Korean companies, and the Longview-based International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 21, has been going on for more than a year. The union contends that a contract with the Port of Longview (not EGT), along with long-standing union jurisdiction, gives them the right to work at EGT’s $200 million, company-financed terminal. EGT disputes the union’s claims, adding that they need their own people to operate the grain exporting facility’s state-of-the-art controls.

Union protests started out relatively benignly last May, with 150 picketers staging a protest at the 15th Avenue and Oregon Way intersection in Longview, demanding EGT hire ILWU workers. In June, over 1,000 longshore workers picketed the firm’s corporate headquarters in Portland.

Yet in July, the dispute intensified. On the 11th, 100 protesters were arrested for tearing down a gate and protesting inside the EGT facility. On the 14th, hundreds of workers blocked railroad tracks to prevent a shipment of grain from being delivered to the facility, after which Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad stopped all rail shipments to EGT because of “safety concerns.” On the 22nd, EGT closed the terminal when 100 picketers blocked access to it. One of the picketers was arrested. On the 25th, seven picketers were arrested, one of whom was charged with a felony for threatening to kill a person driving onto the property. Police, who characterized the union’s tactics as “substantially more aggressive,” were forced to escort EGT workers past the picketers. Also in July, EGT, which had originally announced it would hire non-union longshore workers to save $1 million in annual operating costs, changed its mind and hired union workers.

But they didn’t hire ILWU workers. On July 17th, they reached an agreement with the General Construction Company, which employs workers from the International Union of Operating Engineers. This was the followup to a lawsuit filed by EGT last January in which they challenged the ILWU’s contention that Local 21 must do all longshore work at the Port of Longview. That particular trial is scheduled for next year.

Yet that lawsuit was not the only action that occurred in the legal arena. In a move which undoubtedly undermined the ILWU’s credibility, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the very same entity attempting to prevent Boeing airlines from continuing to operate a right-to-work facility in South Carolina, filed a court complaint against the union on August 29th. The NLRB accused the union of “unfair labor practices” and further argued that because talks broke down between EGT and the ILWU prior to the signing of any agreement, the union had no legitimate complaint against the firm. In an odd twist, the NLRB contended that the union’s grievances should be directed at General Construction.

Three days later, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton issued a ten-day restraining order against the union, which prohibited ILWU 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” and from “restraining or coercing the employees of EGT, (its subcontractor General Construction), or any other person doing business in relation to the EGT facility.” After the ruling, Local 21’s president, Dan Coffman, remained defiant. He insisted that union members would continue to protest outside the property boundaries of EGT’s facility. The ILWU’s attorneys believed the order allowed the union to maintain “a presence” at the site. “We will not leave. We will still be there,” Coffman said at the time.

On September 7th, such parsing of the law became moot. More than 400 longshore workers once again engaged in thuggish behavior, blocking a train for four hours outside the EGT facility. It took 50 police officers in riot gear to disperse the protesters and get the train into the port. Police were forced to use clubs and pepper spray against the mob. During the confrontation, 19 protesters were arrested, three for fighting with the police and the other 16 for refusing to get off the tracks after the train started up. Cowlitz County deputies also reported that they were investigating vandalism of the train after it stopped.

Once again, union leaders remained defiant. “You can get Maced and tear-gassed and clubbed [today] or wait for support from longshoremen all over the West Coast when the next train tries to enter the EGT terminal, said Robert McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. McEllrath, who is based in the union’s home office in San Francisco, continued, “If we leave here, it doesn’t mean that we gave up and quit. It means we’re coming back.” Coffman remained defiant as well. “It’s totally unbelievable that our police force in our county is protecting a multi-national corporation,” he fumed. “They’re the thugs, and our guys acted to protect [McEllrath],” he added.

Reportedly, the crowd consisted of union protesters, not only from Longview, but from Portland, Vancouver and other cities as well. Union dock workers in Vancouver had also held up the same train in that city earlier in the day. “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,” said ILWU spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent in reference to the Vancouver protest.

How did any of this square with the restraining order? It didn’t. On September 8th, Judge Leighton issued his ruling, making the 10-day restraining order permanent, noting that the ILWU’s actions were “patently illegal” and angrily adding that “someone is going to be hurt if we don’t get control of the situation.” And while Judge Leighton further noted that the union had violated his restraining order, he stopped short of banning all picketing at the Longview facility, despite a federal government request to do so.

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  • Larry

    And here's me thinking that there were criminal laws covering things like assault, assaulting police, assault with a weapon, criminal damage, and unlawful restraint.

    I wonder when they are going to be acted upon?

    • chocopot

      After one of the victims decides to defend himself and injures (or worse) one of the thugs attacking him. Then the media will finally cover this disgraceful behavior and have a headline about the vicious anti-union thug attacking the peaceful union protester.

  • taxpayer

    Isn't this how Hitler began, with thugs beating up people who disagreed with him? They were called the "brownshirts". Look how that ended. This will also not end well for America and the rule of law.

  • Harvey

    Nothing will be done with the Unions as long as their Number one supporter is in the White House.We have got to have a Congress that is willing to pass Federal Laws makeing the whole of the United States a right to work Country,we can no longer leave it up to the States.
    Unions must be stoped,they are costing th United States billions of dollars each year .We also must get this President out of office in the next elections,as long as hes in office the Unions will do exactly as they want to,and they want to destroy this Nation.

  • needchangein12

    The union chief said, " Obama, we are your army. "

  • Kal Kenett

    Took my business, moved it to Canada, where corporate taxes are now 15.5%. 6 of my 141 employee's 2 years ago decided to organize – The pressure of SEIU + others, a union steward in my business. They wanted representation on my board. Here's my advice to business owners: " They say that the squeaky wheel get's the grease." I'm here to tell you that sometimes it get's… REPLACED! – So because of 6, 135 people LOST their JOBS. Try again to take food out of my children's mouths.

    • davarino

      I used to work in a union that was fairly benign and the owner of the business was fair and kind to the workers. There came a time when the non union shops were killing him by undercutting his prices. He asked for some relief from the workers by taking pay cuts but the unions and older workers would have none of it. They tried to act like the owner was trying to screw them even though he had always been fair in the past. Thats when I got out and got an education and that really tainted my opinion of unions. They are shooting themselves in the foot. But hey, this is a free country, people are allowed to shoot themselves in the foot, and owners are free to move to another country as well.

      Good luck with your little protest ILWU, you might just work yourselves out of jobs after this is over.

      • Kal Kenett

        If we don't do something to simplify the tax system, we're going to end up with a national police force of internal revenue agents.  ~Leon Panetta

  • Flipside

    Good thing this isn’t Disney Co. or Jack Ruby’s strip bar, because then the argument would have gone the other way, with “anti-Semitic” pro-fascist union busters, instead of thuggish, pro-fascist unions. Ever notice how some of the same labor lawyers bust the proprietor or bust the union depending on who paid them to come?

  • StephenD

    We must admit that there were valuable contributions from organized labor. We have 40 hour work week, Safe working conditions, Employee advocates and representation during Grievance and Arbitration procedures, etc. But apart from these long standing items that everyone fair minded can agree are not bad things, what else can be positively attributable to the unions to justify their continued existence? They all seem to be leaning precipitously toward Socialism in their long term goals and in their short term tactics they behave as such. Remember, the Nazi’s were Socialists! Those "Brown Shirts" were essentially working for a Union Boss. They cry out for “the working man” but my reply must be “which working man should I support, the one asking for more, more, more or the one that has to pay for it?”
    The Unions have served their purpose and in order to retain any relevancy they should assign themselves to being employee advocates and monitors of work place safety only.

    • Questions

      I'm no union member or supporter, but the nonsense that Nazism = socialist = pro-union is more than a little disingenuous. Only several months after assuming power in 1933 was forcibly disbanding all German trade unions and imprisoning their leaders. The government then created a phony "union" that was nothing more than a regime agency.

      • Jim_C

        I must say it is a pleasure to know sane conservatives inhabit this site, as well.

  • voted against carter

    Union Dues are nothing more that LEGAL EXTORTION.

    If you want a JOB you HAVE to join the UNION,.. AND you HAVE to PAY DUES.

    When I was in Unions If I could have NOT payed dues I wouldn't have payed it.



    Go get a job in DETROIT. Oh,.. wait you can't.


    AND THE REST OF AMERICA pretty soon too.

    UNIONS are Destroying America.

    Look at Detroit MI to see what the UNION's AND

    the DemocRAT party have planned for America.


    BY the DemocRAT Party and their UNION masters.


    This IS what they WILL do to YOUR town if you LET them.

    • Raymond in DC

      Shortly before becoming a graduate teaching fellow at the U of Michigan many years ago, all such fellows came under the domain of a sort of teachers union (linked, if I recall correctly, to the UAW!). Though I wanted nothing to do with a union, I still had to pay "dues".

  • mrbean

    These days, unionized government workers not only earn more than other Americans, but they have vastly superior benefits, including pension plans that often allow them to retire as early as age 50 with 100 percent or more of their final year's salary. These pensions often to $100,000 a year and come with cost of living adjustments and free lifetime medical care. Getting a government job and sticking with it is like winning the lottery. This plundering of treasuries, made possible by aggressive union tactics and spineless politicians, results in higher taxes and massive debts that ultimately will be borne by our grandchildren. The current situation is "unsustainable." The problem goes beyond finances. Government unions protect even the worst public employees from accountability. Schools don't attempt to fire incompetent teachers-and union protections make it nearly impossible to even fire ones accused of abuse and other misdeeds. As government gets bigger and more powerful, government officials have more uncontrolled power over the rest of us-to enrich and protect themselves at the expense of the public good. The public's servants have truly become the public's masters

  • Yassir Sanchez

    A person should have a right to join a Union if they wish. A person should also have a right to NOT belong to a Union if they wish.

    Glad I live in a Right to Work State like Texas where Unions have largely been unable to gain a foothold. And people wonder why Texas has grown economically even though this Depression????

  • Robert A. Hall

    Only the start indeed. In five years, these will be the good old days of peace and plenty. I will link to this from my Old Jarhead blog  Robert A. HallAuthor: The Coming Collapse of the American Republic(All royalties go to a charity to help wounded veterans)

  • UCSPanther

    If and when the dark days of union busting come back, these union thugs will only have themselves to blame…

  • Omar Said

    I was a union member once also. One thing that you never hear is how the union bosses are part of a larger scheme to keep members. The union bosses were where everyone went to get drugs, gamble and borrow at loan shark rates. The bosses try desperately to get members "hooked" then they own them. Easily 60% of my shop were heavy drug users. Cocaine, heroin, dust, speed all were their. Need corvette money? They will let you buy your vette or boat without any credit reports at 5% a week.
    Unions suck. Hurt people. All are corrupt as our presidency is.

  • elihew

    From all of the pictures of, and comments from Union thugs, in the various news clips, I must surmise they are nothing but a bunch of ignorant (single digit IQ's), fools who still wear tank tops…their methods of making their "cause" known, they fit in well with the pictures and comments of the godless palestinians…"Useful Idiots".

  • mrbean

    You can't fix stupid. LBJ's great slacking society of breeding bastards with differefor dollars has runined this country but the dems get the votes anyway while the rest of us pay for them!

  • Ellman

    This reminds me of "Out of the Night" by Jan Valtin, who renounced the Communist Party and fled to the US. The scenes and acts described in this article were those that were used in shipping docks in Germany and other countries in Europe under the auspices of the Comintern acting under orders from Stalin. The agitators behaved exactly as these union thugs did with one difference: they would actually kill the police who tried to enforce the law.

  • kafir4life

    I avoid union made products whenever possible. Fortunately, it gets easier every day. I know I can't avoid it completely, but we do what we can.

    • wsk

      I don't eschew union made products- after all they are Americans. I will not buy anything from China if I can help it and neither should anyone else.

  • Ronald W. Carnine

    When I was a younger man I worked at the GM plant in KC while I was going to college. It was a good place to work, good wages and working conditions. I was a member of the UAW #31. I did notice one thing. 90% of the UAW reps. time was spent on 10% of its members. Most of the guys were hard workers, who showed up for work almost every day and did their jobs to the best of their ability. But the 10% that took up most of the UAW's time were those who didn't show up for work and who when they were there didn't do their jobs to the best of their ability. Some of these same 10% sabotaged the products and company property. They should have been fired.

  • CisscoKidd

    Can illegal mexicans wear these jackets? They can surely afford them–

    Now do you know where you should be concentrating your marketing efforts? Now do you know? Now?