Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Longview ILWU Member Beats Assault Charge

An International Longshore and Warehouse Union member has been found not guilty of assaulting the manager of a grain terminal during a July 22 protest at the Port of Longview.

A jury last week found that Shelly Ann Porter, 39, of Longview, was lawful in her use of force in slapping the hand of EGT grain terminal manager Gerry Gibson. During the trial, which ended Dec. 19, Porter had defended her action by saying she committed it to prevent Gibson from taking her picture against her will.

The trial was the first in series that’s expected to take place in the aftermath of multiple labor actions conducted in July and September at the EGT terminal. The protests were part of a long struggle between the terminal operator and union over labor issues.

The union says its contract with the port requires that the 25 to 35 jobs inside the terminal must go to unionized labor. The company, however, says its lease agreement with the port does not specify ILWU labor. It employs members of a different union.

Over 200 longshore workers and supporters have been arrested or received summonses to appear on misdemeanor charges related to the various protests, including malicious mischief and disorderly conduct.

On Dec. 12, Judge Ron Marshall issued a written ruling declaring that there’s enough evidence to move forward with the trespassing trials of 45 longshore workers and supporters for incidents that occurred when protesters blocked incoming trains during the Sept. 7 and 21 demonstrations.

Most cases in the July protests are set for trial in Cowlitz County District Court in early 2012.

In addition to the dozens of arrests, the union was fined over $300,000 by the federal government for blocking of trains and alleged property damaged caused during three September protests.

The union is appealing the fines.