American dock workers have taken militant unofficial action in a battle with port operator EGT Development over union busting.
The company recently opened a $200 million grain terminal in Longview, Washington, which it sought to run with non-union labour despite a contractual requirement to do so. Following initial protests by the International Longshore Workers’ Union (ILWU), EGT signed a recognition agreement with a different union. Every other West Coast grain terminal is staffed by ILWU members, making EGT’s actions a direct attack on the union which ILWU activists say is merely a precursor to EGT going non-union altogether.
On Thursday 8 September, workers stormed the Longview terminal and sabotaged the transport of scab grain supplies, leading to a violent confrontation with police who used clubs and pepper spray on the workers and made 19 arrests.
The battle has been ongoing since July and has seen workers at several ports take wildcat action, including sit-downs on railroad tracks to block scab trains. No scab grain has moved since July and ILWU members have continued to protest despite a court restraining order intended to keep them away from Longview.
They were bolstered by flying pickets from Seattle, who walked off their jobs to travel to Longview in order to support the action.
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