Inslee decision stops state from facilitating United Grain lockout


(July 31, 2014) — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO applauds Governor Jay Inslee’s decision to end the 10-month practice of having the Washington State Patrol escort state grain inspectors across the picket lines of locked-out members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union at United Grain at the Port of Vancouver.

This rightfully puts the state in a neutral position regarding this management dispute. While the state provided escort services, United Grain was able to carry on business as usual while depriving some 50 workers of their jobs and providing little incentive for the company to reach a negotiated settlement with the union.

It is important to remember that United Grain, not satisfied with the bargaining position of the ILWU Local 4, locked longshoreman out of their jobs more than 17 months ago in an attempt to starve workers into submission. The ILWU and the community have stayed strong in the face of this corporate greed and arrogance.

In its July 28 editorial, The Seattle Times again reveals its allegiance to corporate avarice and excess by chastising the governor for his decision and suggesting that it is responsible for bringing the $1 billion wheat industry to a “near standstill.” The Times proposes that either the governor should change his mind and continue the escort service or the Washington State Department of Agriculture should hire a private security firm. And finally the Times suggests if the first two options don’t work then the feds should be brought in to take over.

Once again The Seattle Times shows their absolute disdain for working people — never a thought for the workers and their families who have suffered 17 months of job loss and economic uncertainty — but instead the Times’ concern is getting this non-perishable commodity to market — money,  money, money.

Shame on The Seattle Times. Their unabashedly biased opinions are not worth the paper they are printed on.

Jeff Johnson is President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the Evergreen State, representing the interests of more than 500 local unions and 400,000 rank-and-file union members.

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