January 24, 2012 in Business

Settlement reached in Longview port strife

Both sides praise Gregoire’s leadership
Mike Baker Associated Press

OLYMPIA – A Longshore union and a grain terminal operator reached a tentative settlement Monday to end a fiery labor dispute at the Port of Longview that included blocked trains and repeated arrests.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union had been aggressively protesting the company, EGT, since last year, when EGT decided to use a contractor that staffed a new grain terminal with workers from a different union. The dispute became a rallying cry for Occupy protesters when they worked to shut down West Coast ports in December.

The ILWU and EGT did not immediately disclose details of their agreement.

Authorities accused union protesters last year of blocking trains, breaking into the grain terminal and causing damage to the facility. A federal judge who repeatedly warned the ILWU to cease the aggressive tactics eventually fined the union more than $300,000.

The ILWU has argued it is entitled to the work at the Port of Longview based on the port’s working agreement. EGT had argued that the port’s working agreement did not apply to the company’s lease and therefore did not compel the use of ILWU laborers.

EGT CEO Larry Clarke said the agreement was the product of a series of discussions convened by Gov. Chris Gregoire. Both sides praised Gregoire for leading discussion.

The Oregon-based Operating Engineers Local 701 has been doing the work at the $200 million grain terminal. It was unclear how the agreement would impact that union.

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