From an article in the Daily Kos:
EGT bets. Occupy Raises. EGT folds……..
For months EGT, a wholly owned subsidiary of multinational corporation Bunge, Inc, kept ILWU Local 21 members from working the Port of Longview, WA. They had been replaced by other grain elevator operators in violation — as claimed by the ILWU — of a contract EGT had signed with the Port.
On December 12th, the Occupy Movement again demonstrated its ability to mobilize by shutting down the Port of Oakland, affecting other ports on the West Coast, and turning out protesters all over the world. Part of that action was in solidarity with ILWU Local 21.
ILWU workers had engaged in militant protests and pickets over Longview that eventually led to arrests, court injunctions and massive fines against the union. Yet as the grain terminal was about the become operational, the ILWU remained shut out. The first ship to be loaded was due to arrive some time in January.
In mid-December, Occupy Longview, Occupy Portland and Occupy Oakland began organizing “Stop the Loading of the Ship”. This action was aimed at getting thousands of people to Longview, Washington at a moment’s notice when news of the grain ship coming down the Columbia River first hit, in an attempt to prevent the ship from being loaded. Coupled with statements of support and mobilization actions from various local unions, it began to appear that Occupy, operating hand in hand with these other labor groups, might pull off another coup — even if everyone had to wade through snow, slush and tear gas in southern Washington to do so.
When the reality of what was about to hit Longview sunk in, strange things started to happen. The Coast Guard announced that a cutter (right) would escort the ship into port, a use of the US military in a labor dispute that had not happened for decades, even though no one had, or has, at any time, ever, in any way, threatened the ship itself. Governor Gregoire of Washington, who had attempted to intervene previously with no effect, tried to restart negotiations. And this time EGT came to the table willing to negotiate.
About a week and a half ago, as Occupy Oakland was doing practice runs of its convoy to Longview, the ILWU and EGT announced a tentative agreement. On Friday a contract was signed giving the ILWU workers jurisdiction over grain loading operations at the new terminal.
“This is a victory for Occupy in their involvement in forcing negotiations. Make no mistake — the solidarity and organization between the Occupy Movement and the Longshoremen won this contract,” said Jack Mulcahy, ILWU officer with Local 8. “The mobilization of the Occupy Movement across the country, particularly in Oakland, Portland, Seattle, and Longview were a critical element in bringing EGT to the bargaining table and forcing a settlement with ILWU local 21.”
“It is clear that the port shutdowns on November 2nd and December 12th, and the impending mobilization in Longview, is what made EGT come to the table. When Governor Gregoire intervened a year ago nothing was settled — non-ILWU workers were still working in the port. It wasn’t until rank and file and Occupy planned a mass convergence to blockade the ship that EGT suddenly had the impetus to negotiate.” said Clarence Thomas, an officer of ILWU Local 10…
EGT itself made evident the company’s concern about Occupy’s role in the conflict in the January 27 settlement agreement: “The ILWU Entities shall issue a written notice to The Daily News and the general public, including the Occupy Movement, informing them of this settlement and urging them to cease and desist from any actions…”