Report: Obama admin sends Coast Guard to protect ships from violent union members, occupiers

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
Font Size:

President Barack Obama’s administration has ordered the United States Coast Guard to protect grain ships at the Port of Longview from violent “Occupy” protesters and dockworker union members, according to a local news report.

The Daily News in Longview, Wash., reported that the Coast Guard will protect a grain shipment from an onslaught of “Occupy” protesters and members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). The ship will be transporting grain to Asia. A date for the shipment has not yet been set.

The group of leftwing activists had shut down ports all along the West Coast on Dec. 8, including the Port of Longview. The Coast Guard will apparently be helping the ship load its grain at the port, and then depart for Asia, safely.

The local unions and “Occupy” groups are planning to band together to protest the Coast Guard protections of the grain shipment when it happens.

The Coast Guard is a part of the United States Armed Forces and ordinarily falls under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security. The president can, however, at any time, move the Coast Guard to operate under the U.S. Department of Navy, and Congress can do the same during times of war. As the nation’s commander-in-chief, President Obama has the ability to control what actions the Coast Guard takes.

The Daily News reported that the ILWU said it has no plans to stop the grain ship.

Dockworker union members have protested the port since last January, according to a report on the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS).

“Ongoing protests by dockworkers since January of last year escalated in September when ILWU members and supporters sought to block a train heading to the terminal,” WSWS’s Hector Cordon wrote. “Two separate attempts to stop the train were suppressed by riot police, who arrested 19 protestors in the process. The next morning several hundred workers and supporters entered the port’s terminal grounds and dumped grain from the train cars.”

In addition to the attempts to block the train, at least one Longshoremen protester verbally attacked local news media for covering their protests.

“Hey, get your fucking camera out of here, that’s none of your fucking business, you cock bite,” the union member said to a local reporter while grabbing his camera. “Unless you want [to be arrested for] trespassing, get the fuck out of here now. Get out of here now! Don’t fuck with me, partner!”

When The Daily Caller later asked ILWU staffers in downtown Washington, D.C., what they thought of that dockworker’s behavior, ILWU Executive Director Lindsay McLaughlin slammed the door in TheDC’s face and refused to answer any questions.

Longshoremen are among the best paid blue collar workers in the country, partly because of union-negotiated contracts. Longshoremen with 10 years’ of experience earn roughly $30 per hour, according to, a website that tracks typical salaries across various U.S. careers.

Wages for East Coat longshoremen are moderate because of competition among ports. But nearly all West Coast dock workers are part of the ILWU, which uses its monopoly to boost wages for its members.

In 2007, average full-time wages for 15,000 workers at 29 West Coast ports topped $136,000 a year, according to the Pacific Maritime Association, which negotiates and administers contracts between ports and the ILWU. Longshoremen earned an average of more than $125,000, clerks more than $145,000, and foremen more than $200,000.

Workers also get benefits packages worth $50,000 per year, according to the association’s 2007 report.

UPDATE 4:00 p.m.:

A law enforcement expert, R. Andy Priest, told The Daily Caller that the Coast Guard is currently under the control of the Department of Homeland Security, meaning this is a law enforcement operation — not a military endeavor.

“Security falls under the responsibility of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is comprised of U.S. Customs, Border Patrol and U.S. Customs Office of Air and Marine Services,” Priest, the director of Project 1949’s Next Generation DHS Law Enforcement Agency project, wrote in an email.

“However, CBP is severely understaffed outside of the Southwest border, in order to meet congressional demands to combat the ‘War on Drugs.’ Especially in Marine capabilities on the West Coast, where those assets are first deployed to East Ccoast and Southwest border positions.”

Priest said that because the Department of Homeland Security is part of the executive branch, all its agencies report to the president and are serving under his direct orders.

“All DHS law enforcement components are given authority to carry out any duty as requested by the secretary of Homeland Security,” Priest adds. “You are likely to see the deployment of U.S. Coast Guard forces to provide marine security. There is likely to be a combination of DHS agencies deployed to the port in similar fashion to how they were deployed to the Port of Oakland shutdowns.”

Follow Matthew on Twitter