A longshore union protester was arrested Monday morning outside the EGT grain terminal gates at the Port of Longview for allegedly damaging a contractor's vehicle driving inside, Cowlitz County sheriff's deputies said.
Union officials say another vehicle driven by employees of subcontractor General Construction Co. first struck two of their members who were protesting peacefully.
Sheriff's deputies received a call at 6:54 a.m. that picketers with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 were blocking vehicles of workers entering the $200 million terminal, Sgt. Brad Thurman said Monday.
After reviewing a video shot by EGT security, sheriff's deputies arrested Scott Mitchell, 40, of Kelso on suspicion of second-degree malicious mischief, a felony, Thurman said. He was booked into Cowlitz County jail, and a superior court judge will determine bail at Mitchell's arraignment Tuesday, he said.
Mitchell was allegedly filmed using his knee to dent a rear door panel of the Toyota Prius, causing roughly $1,400 in damage, Thurman said.
"The ILWU's illegal activity and repeated violence against local workers disrupts interstate and international commerce, hurts local businesses, and threatens to discourage further business investment in the area," EGT CEO Larry Clarke said in a written statement.
In a video obtained by The Daily News from the ILWU, two picketers were standing in front of a gray SUV entering the terminal. The vehicle did not slow and pushed one man partway onto the hood before he slid over to the side. Three picketers then surrounded a second vehicle, the Toyota Prius, but the camera turns away before anyone can be seen causing damage to the car.
"It's fortunate that two of the peaceful longshore protesters were not killed at the Port of Longview today," ILWU spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent said.
One picketer was taken to St. John Medical Center with a bruised knee, Local 21 President Dan Coffman said. The Cowlitz County Prosecutor's Office is reviewing whether to file additional charges, Thurman said.
ILWU picketers have been posted outside the EGT terminal gates for more than a month to protest the company's refusal to hire union longshore labor. In an agreement with Sheriff Mark Nelson and Port of Longview security, the union has agreed to limit the number of protesters to 16, who have maintained a 24-hour presence outside the gate.
EGT officials announced in July they were hiring Federal Way-based General Construction to staff the terminal with 25 to 35 union jobs. General is hiring members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 701, based out of Gladstone, Ore.
EGT hopes to open the terminal for the fall harvest. However, Burlington Northern Santa Fe has suspended rail shipments of grain for safety reasons during the labor dispute. EGT plans to bring in about 90 percent of the grain on mile-long trains and the rest by river barge.