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Protests Continue Over Longview Grain Terminal

The Associated Press is reporting that hundreds of Longshore union members are protesting for a second time Wednesday.

Earlier, a freight train blocked by union protesters reached its destination in Longview, a half-day later than scheduled. Several hundred International Longshore and Warehouse union members blocked the tracks in Vancouver, Washington.

As the train rolled toward Longview, the AP says, police tried to arrest a small number of the Longshore union activists on railroad tracks in Longview, but the crowd surged and kept the officers at bay.

The police retreated about 150 feet, and no arrests appeared to have been made.

The union is protesting a decision to build a new grain terminal in Longview. The terminal’s management company has no plans to hire Longshoremen.

The protest delayed the arrival of a freight train full of corn destined for Longview. The train was parked off the Vancouver line for most of the day.

Late this afternoon, a spokesman for EGT, the company that runs the grain terminal, confirmed the train was on the move. A spokesman for the railroad would not say who ordered the train to roll again. Union members have been scrambling to get more information, too.

Jennifer Sargent is with the Longshoremen’s union. She says Longshore union workers are better equipped to deal with the safety issues in the new terminal.

“Grain silos are very, very dangerous places to work,” Sargent says. “It’s important to have good safety procedures. There are falls, there are explosions, there are engulfments — people can essentially suffocate in the grain,” Sargent said.

EGT, the company that built the terminal, issued a written statement. It says the union is attempting to block deliveries, disrupting port operations up and down the Columbia River.

The company has already complained to a federal panel about prior union actions in the dispute.

A federal judge in Tacoma has scheduled a hearing Thursday morning. He’ll review a restraining order limiting union protests around the terminal.

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