By Hector Cordon in the USA:
US Coast Guard to escort grain ship against dockworkers’ protest
12 January 2012
In the first use of the military against a labor struggle since President Nixon ordered troops against the 1970 Postal strike the US Coast Guard announced that they would escort a grain ship to the EGT terminal at the Port of Longview, Washington.
According to The Daily News, “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 the Coast Guard’s Portland-based marine safety unit. Other law enforcement agencies will also be present, he said.”
In addition to armed ships, the Coast Guard plans to deploy helicopters and small vessels from the mouth of the Columbia River to the EGT facility. Additional law enforcement will be present from multiple jurisdictions as well as local police.
EGT, a joint venture between Japan-based Itochu, St. Louis-based Bunge North America and Korean shipper STX Pan Ocean, has been seeking over the last year to quash the requirement of the Port that they hire members of Local 21 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Workers (ILWU).
To this end, EGT filed a lawsuit against the port a year ago contending that its contract allows hiring of non-ILWU labor. The company estimates it would save $1 million yearly by using outside labor. It presently has a contract employing workers from another union, General Construction and Operating Engineers Local 701.
Ongoing protests by dockworkers since January of last year escalated in September when ILWU members and supporters sought to block a train heading to the terminal. Two separate attempts to stop the train were suppressed by riot police, who arrested 19 protestors in the process. The next morning several hundred workers and supporters entered the port’s terminal grounds and dumped grain from the train cars.
That day thousands of dockworkers in the Northwest responded to these attacks in a wildcat strike, shutting down ports in Seattle, Tacoma, Everett and Anacortes, Washington in solidarity with the struggle in Longview. (See, “Wildcat strikes shut down Washington docks for one day”)
Why Now? What’s Next? Naomi Klein and Yotam Marom in Conversation About Occupy Wall Street. Naomi Klein and Yotam Marom, The Nation: “Naomi Klein: One of the things that’s most mysterious about this moment is ‘Why now?’ People have been fighting austerity measures and calling out abuses by the banks for a couple of years, with basically the same analysis: ‘We won’t pay for your crisis.’ But it just didn’t seem to take off, at least in the US”: here.
- Seaport labor dispute threatens Montana wheat shipments (billingsgazette.com)
- Longshore union objects to Coast Guard plan (columbian.com)
- Inflatable rat joins Longshore picket line (columbian.com)
- ILWU Local 21 Member Shelly Korker On Solidarity And The EGT Longview Contract (indybay.org)