ILWU reaches settlement in Longview labor dispute

By 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 has 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 ILWU and EGT, did not immediately disclose details of their agreement.

“The ILWU has eight decades of grain export experience in the Northwest, and we look forward to the opportunity to develop a positive working relationship with EGT,” ILWU President Robert McEllrath said in a written statement.

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 that 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 laborers from the ILWU.

“While the parties are still working to finalize certain conditions over the next several days, we are optimistic we can resolve the dispute and get on with the business of operating the facility,” EGT CEO Larry Clarke said in a statement.