A few days ago, it was noted how union tensions were escalating in the port town of Longview, Washington as members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have been protesting the opening of a $200 million grain terminal without using ILWU labor for its roughly 50 jobs.
Since then, the company chose to hire a unionized subcontractor that employs members from the International Union of Operating Engineers, instead of using ILWU members which makes it an extremely volatile situation.
On Friday, things got even more heated as ILWU protesters blocked cars from entering the terminal and the 76 year-old father of the ILWU local president was arrested.
Via The Daily News:
More than 100 protesters from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 gathered outside EGT’s gates around 6 a.m. One man, the father of ILWU Local 21 President Dan Coffman, was arrested on two misdemeanor counts.
“We’re fine with the legal, peaceful protests. But when things cross the line and we start getting reports of vehicles being stopped, threats being made… we’re going to respond to those,” Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson said.
James Coffman, 76, of Rainier was arrested about 8 a.m. on two counts of malicious mischief for allegedly breaking the antenna off an EGT employee’s vehicle and throwing an egg at another car, Chief Criminal Deputy Charlie Rosenzweig said. Sheriff’s deputies identifed Coffman, a retired longshoreman, in a video shot at the scene, Rosenzweig said.
Protesters also surrounded an EGT employee’s vehicle, threatened to throw hot coffee in his face and knocked his hand away when he attempted to photograph them, sheriff’s deputies said. Union protesters told sheriff’s deputies that the man tried to hit them with his vehicle, Rosenzweig said.
Friday’s incidents caused EGT to shut down the terminal indefinitely.
Since the grain terminal is on port property, it appears the company’s position is that the port has the responsibility to secure the property.
Port of Longview spokeswoman Ashley Helenberg said the port’s contract security officers would defer to local law enforcement for all calls on the port-controlled road outside EGT property.
“We are working closely with EGT and the ILWU to resolve the issue. We support peaceful demonstration, but when laws are broken it becomes a matter for law enforcement,” she said.
Based on the arrests earlier this month, it appears that Longview law enforcement is doing well so far at enforcing the law. The question going forward, however, will be whether the ILWU protesters will comply the law.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776