By: Patti Bankson
Iâ€™m sure grain is regularly delivered all over the country without fanfare. But when a train carrying a grain shipment made a delivery in Longview, Washington, on Wednesday, September 7th, it made the news. And the news was that this first delivery at a new grain terminal arrived despite a day of union protests, a couple of â€œworkerâ€ blockades, and a clash with police. All because the company operating the terminal, EGT, hired a contractor to staff the facility, and who did they hire? Why, none other than UNION laborers.
Okay, hold itâ€¦ union members protested because a company hired union laborers? Whatâ€™s the problem?? Well, the problem is that the protesting union workers, who belong to the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union), believed that they had the right to work at the facility, but the workers who were hired did not, becauseâ€¦ they belong to a different, competing, union.
ILWU members had blocked a train bound for Longview earlier this summer, stopping all shipments to the site. And, although a federal judge had issued a restraining order against the union, union members went ahead with their protest, first blocking the train early Wednesday morning in Vancouver. After regrouping, at about 4:30 a.m. Thursday, 500 Longshoremen broke down gates at the Port of Longview, smashed windows in the guard shack, and held six guards hostage for a few hours. They cut brake lines, and spilled grain from the car at the terminal before returning to their union hall.
This story was particularly interesting to me after having read a letter to the Orlando Sentinel by a Mark Lanier, in which he wanted to remind us that the union-inspired Labor Day holiday is important, because, â€œWe need unions to protect workersâ€. (Would that be to protect workers from union thugs, Mark?) According to him, â€œthere has been an assault on workers during the past 40-yearsâ€. (And, who is doing the assaulting,, Mark?) â€¦â€that thereâ€™s been a concerted effort to weaken collective-bargaining rights for workers (not to weaken anything, Markâ€¦ just to ask union workers to take on some of the responsibility for their so-called benefits, like other workers do.), increasing worker uncertainty and depressing wages.â€
Awwwâ€¦ welcome to todayâ€™s real world, Mark. There may have been a time when unions were necessary, but maybe the time has come for unionsâ€™ extremely well paid leaders to start weaning their workers off their pacifiers and â€œblankiesâ€â€¦ maybe itâ€™s time for union workers to realize that there are millions who would give an arm and a leg to even have a job! Maybe itâ€™s time for someone to tell these â€œgooniunsâ€, as Rush Limbaugh called them, that they donâ€™t get to defy federal restraining orders that prohibit them from blocking the facility entrance in Longviewâ€¦ most importantly, they donâ€™t get to engage in death threats and assaults. Of course, I donâ€™t know who would tell them any of thatâ€¦ I was thinking, maybeâ€¦ Attorney General Eric Holder? Nah, that wouldnâ€™t workâ€¦ not when heâ€™s Barack Obamaâ€™s palâ€¦ not when Barack Obamaâ€™s other pal, Trumpka, is a big union honcho. Wow, forget about being in the weeds of corruption, hereâ€¦ weâ€™re in the swamp. And all I want to know is: where is Nancy (Iâ€™m-going-to-clean-up-the-corruption- Iâ€™m-going-to-drain-the-swamp) Pelosi, when we need her?
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Â© 2011 Patti Bankson
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