Local members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, locked out of United Grain Corp. at the Port of Vancouver for nearly five months, took their protest to port commissioners Tuesday. A union leader urged the port to stop being neutral in the dispute and to explain its recent actions, including having workers “that they have known for 20 years” arrested “for standing quietly outside a gate holding a picket sign.”
“It’s time to start supporting American workers” over a foreign corporation’s profits, said Cager Clabaugh, president of ILWU Local 4. “It’s time to stand up for the men and women of this community who pay their taxes to this port in hopes that their families and neighbors will benefit from their investment.”
Clabaugh was among many ILWU members who attended the commissioners’ regular public hearing Tuesday. Several other Longshore workers spoke. Others clapped in support of their fellow union members’ remarks. Commissioner Brian Wolfe said he welcomed the ILWU’s testimony, saying “we’ll continue to work with you, Cager.”
The ILWU centered some of its comments on the port’s decision on June 28 to ask Vancouver police to cite four ILWU members for trespassing in a secure marine terminal area on the west side of United Grain Corp.’s facility.
The port says the union workers needed to have a work-related purpose to be in the area, which is governed by U.S. Coast Guard and port policies. Instead, the port says, the workers were picketing, which was not an appropriate purpose.