In a show of solidarity and apparent disdain over police actions at rough protest last week, the entire membership of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 turned themselves in Friday in response to warrants filed against some union members for vandalism.
The members appeared at the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office after warrants were served on some days after the Sept. 8 at a grain terminal in Longview, Wash.
The longshoremen stormed the new EGT grain export terminal that day, damaging the facility and dumping grain from a BNSF Railway train from hopper cars to protest EGT’s hiring of non-ILWU labor. EGT, when it officially opens for business, would become the first grain terminal on the West Coast to use non-ILWU labor.
Law enforcement officers made some arrests at the scene and continued to make arrests during the following week. The ILWU said local law enforcement officials and prosecutors ignored its efforts to coordinate an orderly and non-confrontational processing of union members with outstanding arrest warrants.
“Instead, authorities continue to pluck union members from their homes, and off the streets with no warning and in a manner that is abusive, unjustified and wastes valuable Cowlitz County taxpayer resources,” the ILWU stated in a release.
The ILWU said rather than take a piecemeal approach to the arrests, it would be better for all concerned if Local 21 showed up en masse. “They were all there, plus 40 women from the auxiliary,” said ILWU spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent.
On Thursday in Tacoma, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton cited the ILWU for contempt of court and said he will fine the union when all of the damages have been assessed
EGT is expected to attempt to open the facility and begin exporting grain, but did not respond to questions on Friday.
Chairman and CEO Matt Rose, interviewed Thursday in Seattle, said BNSF will protect its people and assets, but is prepared to serve the EGT terminal when requested.