Update: Judge orders Longshoremen to stand down

Sep 8, 2011

LONGVIEW, Wash. — A federal judge is ordering union protesters to halt illegal activity as they battle for the right to work at a new grain terminal in Washington state. The judge issued a preliminary injunction to restrict union activity, saying today there is no defense for recent aggressive tactics.

Earlier police in Washington said hundreds of Longshoremen stormed the Port of Longview early Thursday, overpowered security guards and damaged railroad cars and dumped grain that is the center of a labor dispute.

It appears the controversy has spilled over into the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.

Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha says six guards were held hostage for a couple of hours after 500 or more Longshoremen broke down gates about 4:30 a.m. and smashed windows in the guard shack. He says no one was hurt and nobody has been arrested. Most of the protesters have returned to their union hall.

Wildcat strike?

The Seattlepi.com reports that Longshoremen did not show up to work Thursday morning at the Port of Seattle and other Western Washington ports, effectively shutting down the ports' terminals.

The Longshoremen's international union is investigating reports of a wildcat strike at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.

ILWU spokesman Craig Merrilees says union officials are trying to sort out what is happening at the two Washington ports and were not sure on Thursday morning if the strike is related to union activity in Longview.

The spokesman at union headquarters in San Francisco says it appears Longshoremen in Seattle and Tacoma have taken action on their own. Merrilees did not know how many workers are involved and to what extent the apparent wildcat action has spread.

During the morning ruckus in Longview, Duscha says brake lines were cut on a train and grain was spilled from cars.

The union 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.