Robert McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, was fined $500 and sentenced to serve one day in jail and given an 89-day suspended sentence after a three-day trial in Longview, Wash., last week.
McEllrath was convicted of a misdemeanor in Cowlitz County Court on Friday for taking part in a Sept. 7, 2011 protest that blocked a train trying to bring grain to the EGT Terminal in Longview. In June, a jury had failed to reach a verdict on the same charges.
According to Cowlitz County Corrections Department, McEllrath was booked Monday evening.
Union members had gathered last fall to protest the refusal of the EGT to recognize the jurisdiction of the ILWU for jobs at the terminal. The Columbia River terminal, which is a joint venture of Bunge North America, ITOCHU and STX Pan Ocean, eventually settled the dispute and signed a contract with the ILWU.
According to the union, McEllrath said “fighting for good jobs in America shouldnt be a crime,” immediately following his arrest. Before sentencing, McEllrath told the court he had “no regrets about leading men and women against corporate greed and helping them fight to protect middle class jobs in America.”
The Portland Oregonian
said some longshoremen walked off the job at the container terminal in Portland in protest.
The newspaper also reported Friday in an article then posted on the ILWU Website that Northwest grain handlers would extend contract talks that had faced a Sunday deadline into mid-October.
That avoids a lockout at Pacific Northwest terminals that the union says handle one quarter to one-third of U.S. grain exports.
ILWU accused global grain exporters of "trying to put the squeeze" on its members.
ILWU Coast Committeeman Leal
Sundet, co-chairman of the committee that negotiates the Northwest
Grainhandler’s Agreement, said "it’s critical that workers protect the gains we’ve
made over the years.”
He vowed the contract that the union has with EGT "will
build in subsequent negotiations. The industry moguls are mistaken in
thinking they can take advantage of a new competitor to downgrade their
own successful contract.” - Chris Dupin