Incidents of union violence rarely reach the level they did in Seattle, WA, Thursday morning. Upset the Port of Longview had hired contractors from a different union, 500 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, brandishing baseball bats and crowbars, stormed the port and held six security guards hostage.
[Longview police chief Jim] Duscha said tensions between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and EGT Terminal have run hot for the past few months after contract negotiations broke down.
The ILWU believes it has the right to work at the facility, but the company has hired a contractor that’s staffing a workforce of other union laborers.
Thursday’s violence was first reported by Kelso radio station KLOG.
“We’re not surprised,” Duscha said. “A lot of the protesters were telling us this in only the start.”
One police sergeant was threatened with baseball bats and retreated, Duscha said. “One officer with hundreds of Longshoremen? He used the better part of discretion.”
The train was the first grain shipment to arrive at Longview. It arrived Wednesday night after police arrested 19 demonstrators who tried to block the tracks. They were led by ILWU International President Robert McEllrath, who said they would return.
The blockade appeared to defy a federal restraining order issued last week against the union after it was accused of assaults and death threats.
Longshoremen elsewhere in the state walked out in a show of solidarity with the Longview mob. One worker had a telling complaint:
“They want to phase out longshoremen,” said Steve Ritchie of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union in Everett. “They want to make everything automatic.”