Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Longview Protestors Plead Guilty

The fallout from last summer’s labor unrest regarding the Port of Longview’s EGT grain terminal continues, as two men who were arrested during last summer’s protests at the terminal have pleaded guilty to trespassing, while another now faces felony charges.

According to court documents, 51-year-old Rollin Axt of Kelso, and Ryan Sherman, 28, of Longview, were fined $200 and ordered to perform 20 hours of community service by Cowlitz County District Court after admitting to the misdemeanors.

The men, who pled guilty last week, were among almost 150 people arrested during July 11 protests by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 and supporters against the terminal operator.

Axt and Sherman, however, represent rare victories for prosecutors in the cases. In the cases that have been brought to the court since December, juries have found numerous protestors not guilty, and charges have been dropped against others. In mid-February, criminal trespass cases against eight more protestors were dropped.
Dozens more cases are still pending, however. On Feb. 13, longshoreman William Halladay, 47, of Castle Rock, was formally charged by the Cowlitz County Sheriff with second degree assault with a deadly weapon and endangering the safety of a train, both felonies.

Halladay is alleged to have used a log-stacking machine to dangle heavy logs above railroad tracks and in front of a train bound for the terminal on Sept. 21, forcing the train to stop.

The protests stemmed from EGT using the services of a union other than the ILWU at the $200 million grain terminal. Local 21 had contended that its contract with the Port of Longview required that the 25 to 35 jobs inside the terminal go to ILWU labor. Members of Operating Engineers Local 701 had been working at the terminal.

During some protests last year, picketers stormed the facility, cut brake lines on rail cars and dumped grain from the cars, among other things, which led to dozens of arrests on trespassing and disorderly conduct charges.

The dispute was settled with a new labor contract earlier this year.