Barge company files lawsuit over waterborne picket lines

Barge company files lawsuit over waterborne picket lines

Tidewater claims waterborne picket lines formed by longshore union are impeding business and files lawsuit as a result.

TIDEWATER Barge Lines, headquartered in Vancouver, Wash., filed a lawsuit against the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) claiming that the union established waterborne picket lines that have adversely affected Tidewater's business by impeding grain shipments.

ILWU has been involved in a yearlong labor dispute with the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Assn., which consists of Louis Dreyfus, United Grain Corp. and Columbia Grain and represents four of nine Pacific Northwest grain shipping terminals (Feedstuffs, Dec. 31, 2012).

The labor contract between ILWU and the Northwest grain handlers expired a year ago, and the union workers rejected a concessionary contract last December.

Longshore workers formed waterborne picket lines as result of United Grain and Columbia Grain locking them out from export terminals in May.

According to court documents, the National Labor Relations Board concluded, after an agency investigation, that the picket lines violated the National Labor Relations Act by disrupting the business of a neutral employer, Tidewater.

The board also filed an injunction in federal court to stop the waterborne pickets.

In return, ILWU responded by filing court papers asking for the injunction to be denied, claiming that the activities are constitutionally protected by the First Amendment, which gives the union members the right to peacefully picket.

On Oct. 10, oral arguments about the injunction were heard in federal court.

According to Pat McCormick, spokesman for the Northwest grain handlers, all parties involved participated in a meeting on Oct. 3, but details were not disclosed.

ILWU Local 4 president Cager Clabaugh, speaking at a public hearing Oct. 8, told Port of Vancouver commissioners that talks will resume again Oct. 21-22.

Volume:85 Issue:42

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