Wednesday, September 28, 2011

ILWU Sues Longview City and Police For Excessive Force

The ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) has filed suit for the excessive use of force against ILWU members in Longview, Washington, during their own going protests against the new port terminal in Longview. They have sued the sheriff of Cowlitz County, the City of Longview police chief, Cowlitz County and the City of Longview, for their roles in beating and assaulting union members’ and their families as they protest the terminal owner’s use of nonunion labor, in violation of previous agreements with the port.

According to, longshore workers and their supporters can no longer move freely in their own town without fear of being ambushed in front of children and families by an out-of-control police chief and sheriff.

Earlier this month, police attacked nonviolent demonstrators with batons and pepper spray, including women and children. During this same demonstration, police carried rifles loaded with rubber bullets and authorities threatened to call in the military to suppress the protests. On September 8, they dumped 10,000 tons of grain from the trains.ILWU President Bob McEllrath was arrested during these demonstrations and only released after 500 pissed off union members surrounded the police.

After the September 8 action, police have been picking off union members in their homes, from the streets and parking lots. One union member was taken from his home by police while he was caring for two young children, leaving the two at home alone to fend for themselves. All in all, roughly 135 union members have been arrested since July, according to Labor Notes.

It should be pointed out that the union activities have been overwhelmingly nonviolent. Accusations that union members kidnapped a guard and held him hostage turned out to be a fabrication of the bosses and local law enforcement, used to justify their heavy handed tactics against protesters.

It should also be pointed out that the union actions come in response to the terminal owners' violation of the port's contract requiring them to hire members of the ILWU, Local 21.

1 comment:

  1. Well, back to the old days when companies used the local police as their personal goon squads

    Augie R.