International Longshore and Warehouse Union President Bob McEllrath surrendered to law enforcement officials on Monday to face misdemeanour charges relating to blocking a train from entering a grain export terminal in Longview, Wash.
McEllrath, who was released after being cited, said he was” standing with Longview’s longshore workers and their supporters who have been harshly punished for standing up to multinational bully EGT.”
The union president and others have waged a massive labor protest against EGT for trying to become the first grain terminal on the West Coast to operate without the use of ILWU labor.
As McEllrath entered the Cowlitz County Hall of Justice, ILWU workers at all West Coast ports shut down their cargo-handling machinery for 15 minutes. In a show of bi-coastal solidarity, International Longshoremen’s Association Vice President Ken Riley walked through the front door of the Hall of Justice with McEllrath.
McEllrath was cited on misdemeanor charges of trespassing in the second degree and obstructing a train during a protest on Sept. 7.
About 135 longshore workers and their supporters have been arrested this summer in demonstrations associated with the pending opening of the terminal run by EGT, an international join venture led by Bunge, a large grain shipper. The ILWU on Sept. 22 filed a civil rights lawsuit alleging harsh tactics by law enforcement officers in arresting workers, sometimes days after an incident.
The ILWU since 1934 has been the only longshore union to represent dock workers at West Coast ports. The ILWU represents dock workers at the half-dozen other grain terminals in the Pacific Northwest.
In addition to being accompanied by ILA Vice President Riley and a second East Coast longshoreman, McEllrath entered the Hall of Justice with the presidents of the ILWU locals in Seattle, Tacoma, Portland and Vancouver, Wash.