Calling the actions of EGT grain terminal protesters in the summer of 2011 “thuggery,” a federal judge has tossed out union dock workers’ civil-rights lawsuit against four Cowlitz County law enforcement officials.
Union attorneys say they will appeal.
U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton said Feb. 22 in Tacoma that the union longshoremen have no evidence to back claims that law enforcement improperly targeted protesters following protests outside the Port of Longview terminal.
Two union longshore workers left the job for one hour Friday afternoon at the Port of Longview to protest last week's misdemeanor conviction of the union's international president for blocking a train in Longview last summer.
Port of Longview officials said the two workers walked off the job at Berth 5 at 4 p.m. while a vessel was unloading calcined coke. The dock workers returned to work Saturday, according to port officials.
Port of Kalama officials reported no walkouts Friday or Saturday. Other walkouts were reported at the Port of Portland.
Union dock workers walked off the job at West Coast ports Friday to protest the misdemeanor conviction of longshore union president Bob McEllrath by a Cowlitz County jury.
Union officials could not confirm Saturday whether dock workers walked off the job at the Port of Kalama or the Port of Longview on Friday or Saturday. According to The Oregonian, dock workers left work at the Port of Portland’s container Terminal 6 and possibly other West Coast ports.
McEllrath, who is based in San Francisco, was arrested Sept. 7 in Longview and accused of leading hundreds of union supporters in blocking a grain train headed into the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview. On Friday, a jury found him guilty and sentenced him to one day in jail and $543 in fines and court fees.
A Cowlitz County jury Friday found longshore union President Robert McEllrath guilty of obstructing a train during last summer's labor dispute at the EGT grain terminal.
Jurors deliberated about an hour and 40 minutes before delivering the verdict.
"I have no regrets for leading my men and women against corporate greed. What's happening in this country against the middle class is wrong, and I have no regrets," McEllrath told District Court Judge Edward Putka.
Negotiations between union dockworkers and grain handlers are coming down to the wire at six Northwest grain terminals, but local port officials say they don’t expect the labor situation to have any immediate impact in Longview or Kalama.
They’re watching negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association closely, but at this point neither of the local terminals or their union workers are involved because they already have binding contracts with the ILWU, the officials said.
“As far as we know it will be business as usual at the Port of Longview,” said port spokeswoman Ashley Helenberg. “We don’t expect it will have an impact here.”
Dockworkers and grain terminal operators have begun contract negotiations with far higher stakes than in the disputes that caused chaos at the Port of Portland this summer, diverting ships and clogging cargo as far away as Idaho and India.
The grain talks involve Puget Sound terminals and operations on the Columbia River — the nation's top wheat export outlet. The talks are being watched by farmers across the Northwest and Midwest.
If the negotiations fail to replace a contract that expires Sept. 30, wheat, soybeans and corn would back up across the U.S. grain belt, affecting tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in exports, The Oregonian (http://is.gd/jFabYU) reported.
EGT is ready to show off its new $200 million grain elevator at the Port of Longview to the public.
The company is holding a grand opening ceremony 10:30 a.m., Monday, July 9 for community and business leaders. The keynote speaker will be Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, the chief agricultural negotiator for the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Siddiqui will discuss EGT’s effect on growing U.S. grain exports to Asia, according to the company.
EGT handles wheat, corn, soybeans and soybean meal from Midwest producers and exports to the Pacific Rim. The terminal can export 8 million tons of grain annually at full capacity.
The attorney for ILWU President Robert McEllrath on Monday said the Cowlitz County Prosecutor's Office has not informed him whether his client will be put on trial again.
"It's my understanding there's no decision yet," Thomas Phelan of Vancouver said Monday.
McEllrath went to trial last week on a misdemeanor charge of obstructing/delaying a train Sept. 7 at the Port of Longview. He was accused of standing on tracks with other members and supporters of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to prevent a train from entering the EGT grain terminal during last year's labor dispute.
A hung jury forced a mistrial late Friday night in the misdemeanor trial of ILWU President Robert McEllrath, accused of obstructing/delaying a train Sept. 7 at the Port of Longview.
After deliberating for two and half hours and reviewing video footage of the Sept. 7 union protest, the three-woman, three-man jury could not reach an unanimous decision. Just before 11 p.m., Cowlitz County District Court Judge Ed Putka declared a mistrial.
It's unclear when, or if, county prosecutors will retry the case.
A three-woman, three-man Cowlitz County District Court jury was still deliberating at press time Friday night in the trial of ILWU International President Robert McEllrath on charges of obstructing/delaying a train Sept. 7 at the Port of Longview.
Although the charge is a misdemeanor, dockworkers came from all over the world to show solidarity at McEllrath’s trial, which began Thursday. Longshore workers hung a banner outside the Hall of Justice reading: "Fighting for good jobs should not be a crime," and several of them wore shirts with the same slogan.
Testimony began Thursday afternoon in the trial of the highest-ranking longshoreman arrested in last year's dispute over hiring practices between union dockworkers and owners of the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview.
Robert McEllrath of San Francisco, international president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, is charged with obstructing a train Sept. 7. He is accused of standing on rail tracks with about 300 other protesters blocking a train carrying grain from entering the terminal.
The trial in Cowlitz County District Court is expected to conclude Friday. Judge Ed Putka is presiding.
The EGT terminal has shipped more than 1 million tons of grain and created 21 ship calls at the Port of Longview since it opened in February, CEO Larry Clarke said Friday.
Speaking at the Cowlitz Economic Development Council's annual member luncheon in Longview, Clarke said he expects calls to increase later this month when the company finishes repairs on a ship loader damaged in an April fire. The terminal has only used two of its three ship loaders since the fire.
"We're glad to be in operation. There was a lot of support to get us here," Clarke told about 150 business and community leaders at the Cowlitz Expo Center.
Charges of obstructing/delaying a train were dismissed May 16 in District Court against five women accused of involvement in the Sept. 21 Lower Columbia Longshore and Warehouse Union protest against EGT grain terminal.
Melise Faye Bloomfeldt, 27, and Karen Christine Mitchell, 38, both of Kelso, and Andrea Nichole Holde, 30, Megan Michelle Jacobs, 23, and Phoebe Jo Wiest, 57, all of Longview, all completed 10 hours of community service and paid a $200 fine in order to have the charges dismissed.
A charge of criminal trespass against all the women was dismissed earlier.
The Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office arrested Lawrence Roland Roussel, 41, of Longview Sunday on suspicion of stalking.
House rental fraud
A woman called Cowlitz sheriff’s deputies Wednesday saying she had paid $3,200 to rent a house, but the woman who took the money isn’t the home’s owner. The victim said the money was for a deposit and first month’s rent, but the home’s true owner said he hadn’t seen the money. Deputies are investigating.
Jailhouse smuggler sentenced
A union dock workers' federal lawsuit alleging civil rights violations by Cowlitz County and Longview law and justice officials will move forward, a federal judge ruled Monday.
According to court documents, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Leighton denied a request from Cowlitz County and Sheriff Mark Nelson to toss out the union's lawsuit. The suit stems from last summer's labor protests at the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview.
Leighton also granted the International Longshore and Warehouse Union's request to add Cowlitz County Prosecutor Sue Baur and Nelson's chief criminal deputy, Charlie Rosenzweig, as defendants in the suit. Originally filed last September, the suit also names the city of Longview and Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha as defendants.
Dozens of longshoremen gathered at the Cowlitz County Jail on Wednesday morning to show their support for fellow dockworker Ronald P. Stavas, who began a 22-day sentence after pleading guilty to charges related to last summer's tumultuous labor dispute with the EGT grain terminal.
Stavas, 45, of Kelso, pleaded guilty March 29 to second-degree attempted burglary, a Class C felony, as well as gross misdemeanor charges of obstructing a train, third-degree malicious mischief and harassment and a misdemeanor charge of second-degree criminal trespass. In addition to his jail sentence, he was ordered to perform 80 hours of community service, Cowlitz County Deputy Prosecutor Amie Hunter said.
Stavas "is a decent person who's paying a steep price for standing up for his job," International Longshore and Warehouse Union spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent said in a statement Wednesday. "His union brothers and sisters showed up today to show they're with him though thick and thin and will welcome him back as soon as they can."
Firefighters put out a blaze in the conveyor system tower at the EGT grain terminal dock at the Port of Longview on Saturday morning after a three-hour fight.
According to Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue, the fire started just before 9 a.m. in the conveyor system above a ship that was being loaded with wheat. A bit of burning debris fell into the hull of Panama-registered freighter called Navios Gemini S, but the ship was not damaged, Cowlitz 2 Assistant Chief Alan Headley said. No one was injured, he said.
Firefighters had to climb up the tower, which stands more than 100 feet high, to extinguish the fire, Headley said.
Cowlitz County sheriff’s deputies early Thursday morning arrested Darren Scott Johnson, 36, Longview, on suspicion of second-degree assault (domestic violence) and tampering with a witness. Johnson allegedly pulled a gun on a woman in the 100 block of Niblett Way, Longview. Bail: $100,000.
Criminal impersonation arrest
Longview police arrested Phillip Dee Jacques, 42, of Castle Rock Monday on suspicion of first-degree criminal impersonation and obstructing a law enforcement officer. Jacques also had a fugitive warrant.
The Longview police Street Crimes Unit and the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Narcotics Task Force served a search warrant Thursday morning at 240 Baltimore St. and arrested Felix Lopez Garcia, 24, Longview, on suspicion of four counts of narcotics manufacture-delivery and one count of narcotics possession. Bail: $50,000.
An Oregon longshoreman has been fined $1,250 after pleading guilty this week to obstructing a law enforcement officer and obstructing a train, both gross misdemeanors, during a protest and standoff with police at the EGT grain terminal in Longview Sept. 7.
Malachi James Jason, 33, of Troutdale, Ore., admitted to being among hundreds of protesters who blocked a grain train bound for the terminal during one of the most volatile protests of a months-long labor dispute.
In addition to a fine, Jason received a suspended 364-day jail sentence.
The president of the local dockworkers' union pleaded guilty last week in Cowlitz County District Court to three misdemeanor charges related to last year's dispute over hiring practices between the union and owners of the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview.
Also last week, a felony assault charge against another International Longshore and Warehouse Union official was dismissed in Cowlitz County Superior Court, but he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges.
ILWU's Longview-based Local 21 President Daniel Craig Coffman, 55, of Vancouver pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree criminal trespass July 11, Sept. 7 and Sept. 21. He was sentenced to 20 hours of community service and fined $600 ($200 per charge). Charges of obstructing/delaying a train on Sept. 7 and 21 were dismissed.
James Michael Peterson, 21, of Edmonds was booked into the Cowlitz County Jail Tuesday on a summons for third-degree assault, reckless driving and resisting arrest. He was released on his own recognizance.
Longview police were called to Kessler Elementary School, 1902 East Kessler Blvd., at around 3 p.m. Wednesday for a report of two women in a physical fight in the school’s office over a child custody issue, according to a dispatch report. The women were told to work it out in court.
Union dock workers said Thursday they are adding two more Cowlitz County law-enforcement officials to a federal civil rights lawsuit connected to last summer's labor dispute at the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview.
Union officials are arguing that Sue Baur, the county prosecutor, and Charlie Rosenzweig, the sheriff's chief criminal deputy, overstepped their authority while pursuing and arresting members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union for alleged misdemeanor offenses.
The original federal suit was filed last September, naming Sheriff Mark Nelson, Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha, the county and the city. More than 200 ILWU members and supporters were arrested and accused of misdemeanor offenses, mostly trespassing or blocking incoming grain trains. Several protestors also have been charged with felonies.
A jury on Wednesday convicted ILWU protester Earl Scott, 56, of Rainier in Cowlitz County District Court. This is the first jury conviction in the EGT-longshore dispute.
Scott was found guilty of second-degree criminal trespass July 11. He was fined $200 and ordered to perform 20 hours of community service. Scott has appealed the verdict.
In October, a July 25 charge of disorderly conduct was dismissed.
OLYMPIA — After a yearlong labor battle between the EGT grain terminal and the longshore union — a battle that resulted in hundreds of arrests, thousands of dollars in fines, millions more in lost revenue and sullied reputations — the scene in Gov. Chris Gregoire's office Feb. 16 was almost surreal.
The EGT terminal manager, Jerry Gibson, sat smiling at a long, wooden table. Next to him was Dan Coffman, president of the longshore union. Flanking the men were about a dozen members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 and Port of Longview officials, relieved they could finally get back to work. All the former adversaries were shaking hands and celebrating an agreement that ended the local area's most contentions labor dispute in 30 years.
When the governor opened secret negotiations with the parties late last fall, there was "absolutely no trust" between the two sides, she said. But in January, Gregoire announced she had brokered a settlement. Within weeks, negotiators cobbled together a labor contract, and ILWU workers loaded the terminal's first ship Feb. 7.
Cowlitz County sheriff’s deputies Wednesday evening arrested Brent William Allen, 41, Kelso, on suspicion of illegal possession of a prescription drug and marijuana possession. He also had two misdemeanor warrants. He posted $10,000 bail Thursday.
The Port of Longview spent nearly a half million dollars in legal fees related to the labor dispute at the EGT grain terminal in 2011, while at the same time setting another record revenue year.
According to the port’s annual report released Friday, the port spent about $486,000 to pay outside attorneys to represent the port in its contract dispute over the $200 million terminal. The port spent a total of $586,000 on legal fees last year, with the remaining $100,000 mostly paying for in-house attorney work.
The port hired Seattle firm Graham & Dunn to do most of the legal work in the EGT case, which included filing dozens of briefs and arguing in federal court in Tacoma.
Port of Longview commissioners on Friday rejected the longshore union’s claim that they violated the state’s open meetings act last summer when they forbade trespassing on railroad tracks where hundreds were later arrested while protesting the EGT grain terminal.
The union’s claim is an attempt to defend some of those protesters from prosecution, and union lawyers say they may take the matter to court.
At issue is the commissioners’ July 26 vote on a no-trespassing zone around the port’s rail line. That vote by commissioners Darold Dietz and Bob Bagaason took place in a parking area in the area of the port’s Barlow Point property in West Longview, which they had just toured. An advance public notice of the meeting stated that no action would be taken during that commission meeting.
The longshore union is stepping up pressure to get protesters off the hook for criminal charges stemming from the labor strife at the EGT grain terminal, even accusing Cowlitz County Prosecutor Sue Baur of threatening to harm protesters.
Leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union are attempting to sway public sentiment on two fronts: One, they're arguing that Port of Longview commissioners illegally voted to approve a no-trespass zone on railroad tracks last summer. Two, they're accusing Baur's office of pursuing a "vendetta" against the union.
"Sue Baur has a personal grudge against the ILWU. Ms. Baur was personally involved in urging the Port of Longview to crack down on lawful picketing last summer, and has made grossly improper comments threatening physical harm to those who dared to criticize Sheriff Mark Nelson," Leal Sundet, ILWU coast committeeman, said in a written statement released Saturday.
Two people arrested for trespassing during the conflict between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and EGT export grain terminal have been sentenced after pleading guilty, while eight additional defendants have had trespassing charges dismissed.
Rollin E. Axt, 51, Kelso, and Ryan Kristopher Sherman, 28, Longview, were sentenced in Cowlitz District Court to 20 hours of community service and fined $200.
They were among 147 protesters arrested at the terminal July 11, when protesters tore down an EGT fence and demonstrated inside the terminal. Sherman was also present when protesters blocked a train from entering the grain terminal for several hours on Sept. 7.
A longshoreman has been charged with using heavy machinery to dangle at least 17 logs in front of a train bound for the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview on Sept. 21, according to court documents filed Monday.
Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office investigators said William Lee Halladay, 47, of Castle Rock was trying to stop the grain train on a day when his fellow International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 members were protesting EGT executives' decision to hire another union to operate the $200 million terminal.
Halladay faces a charge of endangering the safety of a train as well as three counts of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon — one count for each of the people aboard the train. Charging documents said the "deadly weapon" involved was the "logs and/or the log loader." All of the charges are felonies.
Criminal trespass charges have dismissed against six additional people accused of illegal protests at the EGT grain terminal during last summer's labor strife between the terminal and longshore union.
In addition, two people also were sentenced in connection with the protests.
July 11 second-degree trespass charges have been dismissed in Cowlitz District Court against Nina L. Anderson, 42, of Kelso and Bruce C. Benson, 52, of Rainier. They were among 147 protesters arrested at the terminal July 11, when protesters tore down an EGT fence and demonstrated inside the terminal.
Union dock workers voted Thursday night to approve a five-year contract to work inside the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview, union and company officials announced Friday in a joint release.
The two sides did not release details of the collective bargaining agreement, the final piece required to move past the angriest labor dispute in more than 30 years. The agreement cover both production and maintenance work and creates a select pool of ILWU employees to work as needed at the facililty handling grain from ships, barges and trains, according to the joint release.
"Ever since the ILWU started loading this first ship, a lot of positive conversations have started taking place around town. People are happy to see we can all move forward now and do what we're here to do, which is work hard and support our community," Dan Coffman, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union's Longview-based Local 21, said in a written statement.
Union longshore workers docked the merchant vessel Full Sources without incident at the EGT grain terminal Tuesday, marking the first time that union dockworkers have worked at the terminal.
About two dozen people, mostly longshoremen and port employees, watched the ship sail into the Port of Longview's new Berth 9, escorted by Coast Guard cutters and police boats. The freighter, the first ship ever to call at the new $200 million terminal, will take 57,000 tons of Washington soft wheat to South Korea.
"It's ... a relief for the community. We don't have to worry about more chaos and mayhem. It's going to bring money into the community. It brings more jobs into our hall," Byron Jacobs, secretary/treasurer for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21, said while watching the ship dock at about 12:30 p.m.
Law enforcement officials celebrated the uneventful arrival of the first grain ship at the EGT terminal in Longview on Tuesday, saying they were thrilled to avoid the large, unruly protests initially feared.
"The ship is safely parked, and from our perspective it was a non-event, which is what we love and appreciate," Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson said Tuesday afternoon. He called the ship's arrival "historic" for Cowlitz County and low-key for law enforcement.
There were no protests on either land or the water. The federal, county and city law enforcement agencies responding to the ship's arrival returned to business as usual at 1 p.m., about an hour after the EGT vessel Full Sources docked.
The first grain ship headed to the EGT export terminal is scheduled to arrive at the Port of Longview between 11 a.m. and noon Tuesday after dockworkers on Monday announced they've resolved "fundamental" differences with the company.
GT and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union started negotiating late last week to hammer out an agreement to work at the $200 million terminal at the Port of Longview. About 25 to 35 jobs are at stake.
"Negotiations are currently underway and have progressed to the point that the fundamental issues are resolved. EGT is operating its facility with ILWU-represented employees while the finer details are being worked out," ILWU Coast Committeeman Leal Sundet said in a written statement.
Local and federal officials are prepared for the arrival of the first ship at the EGT terminal Tuesday, but they say they don't expect any large-scale protests or disruptions.
"Two weeks ago we were looking at this and thinking ‘Holy Moly, what in the world might happen here,' " Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson said Monday. "But now that has diminished considerably, though I wouldn't go so far as to say it's gone away completely."
Large-scale protests both on land and in the water were feared while the International Longshore and Warehouse Union still was involved in a labor dispute with EGT. Since the union and EGT settlement late last month, though, Nelson said officials don't know of any large protest planned for Tuesday.
A Cowlitz County District Court jury Wednesday found four longshore union supporters not guilty of blocking a train bound for the EGT grain terminal Sept. 21.
After a daylong trial presided over by Judge David Koss, the jury acquitted Erica Ranee Farland, 33, of Castle Rock, Cara Marie Lindemann, 34, of Kelso, Kahne Bell Witham, 32, of Longview and Jennifer Lynn Wood, 35, of Kelso of misdemeanor charges. All four are relatives of International Longshore and Warehouse Union members.
On Sept. 21, police arrested Farland, Lindemann, Witham, Wood, five other women and ILWU Local 21 President Dan Coffman for sitting on the tracks at the Port of Longview at the far end of Columbia Boulevard and blocking the mile-long train. Cowlitz County Prosecutor Sue Baur said the other five women are scheduled for jury trial in March and that Coffman will be tried separately.
EGT Development and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union will begin contract talks this week after workers at the grain terminal formally chose the ILWU as their union.
The union announced Wednesday that workers at EGT who had been dispatched from the ILWU's Local 21 hall in Longview signed cards indicating their choice of union, which were then approved by an arbitrator, union officials said. By allowing the workers to choose ILWU as the union to represent them at the grain terminal, EGT avoided designating a union for its workers, which would risk violating federal labor laws.
The ILWU didn't disclose how many workers voted. Nor was it clear whether all workers at EGT participated in the vote to select ILWU.
Trespassing charges have been dismissed against three more ILWU Local 21 workers in connection with the longshore union's protest July 11 on the EGT grain terminal site at the Port of Longview.
Charges of second-degree criminal trespassing July 11 were dismissed against Leonard M. Ballenger, 65, Alison L. Beam, 52, and Shelly A. Porter, 39, all of Longview.
Port of Longview commissioners Friday signed off on a settlement with EGT Development and union dock workers. The pact provides a framework for longshoremen to work inside the $200 million grain terminal and end one of the area's longest, angriest labor disputes in decades.
EGT and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union still have not signed a labor contract, but both sides agreed on the settlement before submitting it to port commissioners, according to port attorney Frank Randolph. Rank-and-file ILWU members approved the agreement Tuesday, according to the union.
The agreement, announced by Gov. Chris Gregoire Monday, effectively settles a federal lawsuit between EGT and the port over labor requirements at the terminal and halts past claims from the dispute.
Negotiators are staying mum on how many jobs at the Port of Longview's EGT grain terminal will be filled by union longshoremen, but a tentative settlement has already compelled the longshore union and EGT to push back a key labor hearing at the heart of the dispute.
The National Labor Relations Board postponed a hearing scheduled for Monday on whether the International Longshore and Warehouse Union engaged in illegal picketing during last summer's protests, according to Frank Randolph, Port of Longview attorney.
The first day of the hearing, expected to last at least a month, has been rescheduled for Feb. 6. According to the labor board, the Pacific Maritime Association also is listed as a party because of the lost time incurred by shippers due to longshore walkouts in Longview, Seattle and Tacoma in September in protest of EGT's hiring policies.
Union dock workers and EGT Development Monday reached a tentative agreement to end their year-long labor dispute at the Port of Longview under a cease-fire negotiated by Gov. Chris Gregoire.
The longshore union's share of the 25 to 35 jobs at the terminal still must be worked out, and a labor contract must still be ratified by union membership, union officials said. However, the union agreed to withdraw its pickets and bargain.
The date of the first ship coming to EGT terminal has not been announced, and planned protests have not been called off. However, for now, Monday's announcement brings labor peace at the $200 million grain terminal, where protesters blocked two incoming grain trains, police arrested hundreds of longshoremen and supporters and a federal judge levied heavy fines against the union. The agreement also appears to head off a mass protest of EGT's first inbound grain ship, expected within weeks.
Law enforcement officials applauded a tentative deal announced Monday between longshoremen and the EGT grain terminal, saying the agreement could defuse tensions and tempers that have run high in the community for months.
A Coast Guard commander also said Monday he hopes the settlement, the details of which were still sketchy Monday afternoon, will discourage a planned blockade of the Columbia River shipping channel by Occupy movement protesters, who have planned to thwart the first grain ship's arrival.
"We're very hopeful that those who are calling for protests on the water near Longview will ... be thankful for the resolution of this labor dispute and not put people on the water for protest purposes," said Coast Guard Capt. Bruce Jones, the commander overseeing the Columbia River and its ports.
As word spread of Monday's tentative settlement between the local longshore union and the EGT grain terminal, a giant wave of relief flowed across the community.
"It's absolutely a Christmas present in January," George Raiter, chairman of the Cowlitz County Board of Commissioners, said Monday afternoon.
"There's been a lot of nervousness about what may or may not transpire when a (grain) ship wanted to come in," added Ted Sprague, president of the Cowlitz County Economic Development Council. The EGT terminal started accepting rail shipments of grain last year but has yet to send out a single bushel by ship.
At the Aug. 4, 2009, groundbreaking for the $200 million EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview, the construction was hailed as a boon for Longview and the region. Once EGT decided not to hire International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 workers, though, the project became contentious as pickets were staged outside — and sometimes inside — port property. Several months of stand-offs and numerous arrests followed:
Jan. 23 - EGT and ILWU announce tentative settlement of grain terminal dispute after negotiations with Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire.
Jan. 18-19 - Seven longshore union members plead guilty to misdemeanor trespass in plea bargains that dropped more serious charges. None received jail time.
Seven longshore union workers pleaded guilty this week in Cowlitz County District Court to misdemeanor trespassing charges in the EGT/longshore labor dispute at the Port of Longview.
One of the seven, Jacob Anthony Whiteside, is the vice president of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21, which has been involved in a dispute with EGT since last summer. Union protesters have maintained that they were on public property exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech.
Whiteside, 34, of Longview pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree criminal trespass July 11 and Sept. 7. He was sentenced to 20 hours of community service, fined $500 and ordered to join with the other defendants in paying $750 restitution for damaging EGT's chain-link gate July 11 to enter the property.
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