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Strange sympathy for Longshore lawlessness

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on Sep. 8, 2011 at 7:29 pm with 7 Comments »
September 8, 2011 5:45 pm

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

What are Washington’s Longshore unions thinking? How can raw thuggery in Longview possibly deserve sympathy strikes in Tacoma, Seattle, Everett and Anacortes?

Longshoremen at the Port of Longview on Thursday looked and acted like they were out to confirm every stereotype of ugly, brutish union goons.

According to news reports, at least five hundred of longshoremen and supporters – some wielding baseball bats and crowbars – overwhelmed police, broke into a terminal, held security guards hostage and sabotaged boxcars.

The provocation appears to be a police attempt Wednesday to prevent longshoremen from illegally blocking railroad tracks into the terminal. International Longshore and Warehouse Union President Bob McElrath and more than a dozen others wound up arrested; the only logical response, apparently, was mob action.

At the heart of this is a dispute over whether members of two ILWU locals have a right to the highly paid jobs at the new Longview terminal, which is owned by EGT Development. EGT has shut the ILWU out, instead hiring members of an Oregon-based local of the International Union of Operating Engineers.

The ILWU didn’t like the precedent, which conceivably threatened its hold on other West Coast terminals. While that’s a legitimate concern, it doesn’t begin to justify mass lawlessness and violence. Even before Thursday’s mob action, the union-friendly National Labor Relations Board had charged the ILWU locals with unfair labor practices of a highly physical nature.

Unfortunately, the ILWU nastiness wasn’t confined to Longview. Also on Thursday came the “solidarity” strikes that shut down other ports, including Tacoma’s and Seattle’s.

Officials at the international union’s San Francisco headquarters say these were local, spontaneous wildcat strikes. They were also a pointed reminder that the union holds the power to shut down maritime commerce up and down the West Coast.

Acknowledging this power, cargo carriers and terminal operators long ago made their peace with the ILWU – or thought they did – by signing some of the most generous union contracts in history.

The current agreement between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (which bargains for employers) provides senior ILWU members with – hold your breath – an average full-time wage of $136,000 a year. Clerks make $145,731. Foremen make $200,052.

That was the compact: The ILWU kept the ports running; in return, its members got paid like royalty. Benefits include comprehensive health care coverage with no premiums and no deductibles.

A deal like this should buy reliability and the kind of certainty shippers must have. Thursday’s strikes, we hope, were aberrations that won’t be repeated.

Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. TNT, please reply: Where is the original article from the morning of 9/8 pertaining to this story!? Has it been pulled…hidden? I can search the keywords from any other past article that I can recall and within seconds link to the original article from months past. Not this one though. Are we hoping not very many people read it, sweep it under the rug and maybe it’ll be forgotten? Were you threatened by the Union bosses?

  2. jimkingjr says:

    Too bad our Ports can’t threaten to move to SC…

  3. plain_old_Dave says:

    The ILWU is a wonderful example of worker solidarity. Labor holds the power over capital. That’s why it’s so important for capitalists to keep working folks brain-washed, pacified, and ignorant of their collective power.

  4. PumainTacoma says:

    Same old union bullying tactics that burned down a home during a local machinist strike in the 1990’s. Making $130K is no small fry, they should stop their bullying practices and go back to work. Baseball bats, crowbars mob mentality that anarchist use to overthrow rule of law.

  5. Patrick O'Callahan says:

    kbg, as the above editorial demonstrates, we are terrified by the ILWU.

    Seriously, articles appear and disappear mysteriously on this and other websites all the time. Sometimes we should be given credit for being stupid instead of conspiratorial.

    I’ll forward your question to our Egyptian priesthood of technical people.

  6. Good people of Washington, This is disturbing in so many ways .There are five posts to a national story of great importance to all AMERICANS and look what the five say!
    I am making a comment here to let you know that there are others out there in America who are not sweeping Hostage taking ,kidnapping ,violence,destruction of private property and threats under the rug but are reporting it to evreyone we can get to listen.
    I am not afraid of these people and will not bow to thuggery,but will keep educating people to what these people are doing ,and the LAW is not being upheld.STAND UP WASHINGTON ,you hold the name of the Father of this country! these are criminals in the true word,of it.they broke fedreal laws including local.what would happen to you?

  7. davehill90 says:

    Plain Dave and others who wonder where the article went… Do we want intimidation… from either side, really? Should thuggery and bullying buffoonery rule the day?

    We began the labor movement with some set backs, fighting from [on] both sides… physical and violent.
    We decided in this country to do things in a way that is messy… but hopefully has evolved from the crazy. In Russia they were getting what a lot of union hopefuls here wanted… a proletariat movement. Instead we opted for a free market deal, where level clout could work. A dock worker or freight handler would not be singled out and intimidated when they could ‘bargain collectively’

    Now we get this one party rule cabal that takes us back again to with a stronghold on not just labor.. but all aspects of our lives. Instead of teaching hospitals and merit [at somewhat based upon merit] pay for some professions.. we have one size fits all programs that destroy American family and tradition. progressive? Then progress! Don’t take us back – or into tyranny! Only fools do not understand what they are doing based upon past history… study up! Or we perish

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