A months-long standoff between union members and a grain terminal in Washington turned violent this week with union members storming the terminal, damaging railcars, cutting brake lines, smashing windows and even dragging a security guard from his car before driving it into a ditch.

So it’s not surprising that a union member threatened a KGW television news crew Friday who had come to the union’s headquarters to get their side of the story.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union member threatened to have the journalists arrested on trespassing charges while grabbing one of their cameras and insulting them with a long tirade of profanities.

The journalists didn’t need to stick around. They already had their story. Even if it wasn’t the one they had originally planned on.

The tensions between the longshoremen and the EGT grain terminal stem from the company’s decision to hire outside union workers – which the longshoremen say is a violation of their contract.

According to The Daily News of Columbia:

The longshoremen argue the EGT terminal is obligated to hire them under a lease with the port. EGT executives say otherwise and have hired a contractor, which, in turn, is employing union operating engineers to work at the $200 million facility.

A federal court is expected to rule on the matter next year. At stake are 25 to 35 jobs, mostly in the facility’s control room.

This week’s incidents haven’t done much to bolster sympathy for the union members. An online poll in the Daily News indicates they are losing support from people who had previously supported them.

Even the lounion_poll.jpgcal sheriff had some degree of sympathy for them a couple of months back.

(Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson) said he was “extremely disappointed” that a months-long dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the EGT grain terminal has descended into violence. He lambasted the union for its alleged role in this week’s events, during which protesters wielding baseball bats dumped grain from rail cars, smashed windows and intimidated law enforcement officers and security guards.

“This was an organized, large-scale criminal event,” Nelson said. “We’re talking about sabotage. We’re talking about riotous behavior.”

Nelson’s remarks Friday signal a change in tone from earlier this summer. In July, even as his deputies arrested union members for trespassing at the EGT terminal, Nelson said he was sympathetic of the union’s goal. “Bless their hearts,” he said at the time. “These are our neighbors, too. These are our folks. This is our community.”

 Click on these links for complete background on the conflict.