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Longshoremen clash shuts Northwest ports

Longshoremen clash shuts Northwest ports

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Work is at a standstill at some Northwest seaports, including Seattle, as a long-simmering labor dispute turned violent Thursday morning.

At least 500 longshoremen stormed the Port of Longview about 4:30 a.m. and broke out windows in the guard shack, according to Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha. 

In Seattle, Tacoma, Everett and Anacortes, hundreds of Longshore workers failed to show up or walked off the job Thursday in apparent solidarity with the Longview activists, halting work at those ports. Union leaders said they had not called for any such actions.

``It appears the members have taken action on their own,'' said ILWU spokesman Craig Merrilees from union headquarters in San Francisco.

Officials at the San Francisco-based ILWU international said the walkouts in the Puget Sound area were in response to a widely circulated photo of ILWU President Robert McEllrath being hauled away in handcuffs at a union train protest in Longview on Wednesday. McElrath was not arrested, but an Associated Press photo showed him being grabbed by several police officers before union activists intervened and grabbed him back.

Scott Mason, president of Tacoma-based Local 21, said the walkouts may continue in support of Longview longshoremen.

"If EGT continues to act in the manner they do ... I can't say our members will not wildcat again. EGT can eliminate this any time by abiding by the agreement they already signed. The ball is in their court," Mason told The Daily News in Tacoma on Thursday.

Operations at the Port of Longview were not delayed Thursday, Port Director Ken O'Hollaren said. Officials at two grain export terminals in Kalama could not be reached for comment.



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