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Longshoremen clash shuts Northwest ports

According to the Seattle Times:

“500 Longshoremen take guards hostage, threaten police with baseball bats — Seattle, WA

Work is at a standstill at the ports in Seattle and Everett as a labor dispute that started Thursday morning turned violent.

At least 500 longshoremen stormed the Port of Longview about 4:30 a.m., broke out windows in the guard shack and — as longshoremen wielding baseball bats and crowbars held six guards hostage — others cut brakelines on box cars and dumped grain, according to Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha.

No one was injured and there were no arrests, Duscha said. Fifty police officers from Kelso, Longview, Cowlitz County, the Washington State Patrol and Burlington Northern Railroad responded to the scene.

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.

In Seattle, port spokesman Peter McGraw said he had no additional information on the walkout.”




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