After a year-long dispute between a Washington union and United Grain Corp., the National Labor Relations Board is charging union picketers with not only attacking company workers, but with threatening to rape one manager’s daughter and issuing veiled threats to another’s children.
The charges have come a year after wheat exporting company United Grain Corp. in Vancouver, Washington first locked out 44 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in Feb. 2013, after months of “fruitless negotiations” and allegations that a union member sabotaged company equipment, spawning the escalating fight. In a filing with the NLRB last week, National Labor Relations Board regional director Ronald Hooks accused the longshoremen of a laundry list of violent and dangerous tactics.
Local 4 members “threatened to rape the daughter of one of the employer’s managers” and implied threats to a manager’s children, chillingly telling the manager that they would “see his children at school” and asking, “Are your children okay today?”
Hooks also charged union members with following through with physical harm against company workers. Local 4 picketers caused a security officer’s leg to be pinned under a moving vehicle; shone spotlights into vehicles coming in and out of United Grain’s terminal, comprising drivers’ vision and causing permanent eye injury to one security officer; and recklessly pursuing United Grain vans.
The list goes on and on, but wouldn’t be complete without rocks and racial slurs thrown against United Grain security officers as well. Some members also threatened to harm workers for Columbia River Pilots, a cargo shipping company.
A longshore union spokeswoman didn’t deny the accusations outright, but called it United Grain’s attempt “to distract from the fact their illegal lockout” (sic) and said that the complaint is “merely the beginning of a legal process that we believe will eventually clear these workers of the company’s allegations,” the Oregonian reports.
But the allegations are given even further weight coming from the enthusiastically pro-labor National Labor Relations Board. Hooks simultaneously filed charges with the NLRB that United Grain’s initial lockout of ILWU workers last February didn’t meet standards by allegedly failing to offer conditions that Local 4 could meet to avoid the lockout. A United Grain spokesman said Hooks’ allegations on the topic don’t hold up to current law.
Hooks’ complaints against both ILWU Local 4 and United Grain have been filed with the NLRB dated Feb. 28. The case will be arbitrated by NLRB attorneys before an administrative law judge with the agency in Portland this summer.
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