NLRB Accuses Union of Threats in Terminal Lockout

Monday, 10 Mar 2014 01:40 PM

By Joe Battaglia

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The bitter yearlong feud between longshoremen and the West Coast's largest grain terminal has intensified after the National Labor Relations Board accused union members of assaulting security officers, threatening to rape a manager's daughter and to harm a boss' children, according to The Oregonian.

Union Grain in Vancouver, Wash., locked out longshoremen in February 2013 after saying a member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 4 sabotaged equipment, a charge the union has disputed.

Ronald Hooks
, NLRB regional director in Seattle, has called that lockout unfair, according to the Associated Press. Hooks separately found even more alarming conduct in a recent investigation of charges made by Union Grain against Local 4 members.

Hooks alleged picketers shone spotlights into vehicles entering and exiting United Grain’s terminal, blocking drivers’ vision and causing permanent eye injury to a security officer; and that locked-out workers recklessly pursued company vans, threatened to harm Columbia River pilots, and pinned a security officer’s leg under a moving vehicle.

The Oregonian reported Hooks also alleged that Local 4 members "threatened to rape the daughter of one of the employer’s managers," and implied threats to harm a manager’s children by telling him they would "see his children at school" and asking, "are [his] children OK today?"

Hooks’ case against Local 4 also alleges that workers attacked a vendor’s truck, threw rocks at a security guard, and directed racial slurs at United Grain’s African-American security officers.

Pat McCormick, a spokesman for the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association, whose membership includes United Grain, told The Columbian, "The NLRB complaints issued this week found enough merit in some of the union charges and all of the company’s charges to proceed to the next step in the process, a hearing before an administrative law judge. We look forward to addressing all these issues in the hearing."

Jennifer Sargent, a longshore union spokeswoman, told The Oregonian that the NLRB complaint was "merely the beginning of a legal process that we believe will eventually clear these workers of the company's allegations."

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