Dozens of longshore workers were charged with various trumped-up charges as a result of protest actions held last September against the refusal of EGT Development to hire ILWU members at the grain terminal here in violation of the union’s agreement with the Port of Longview.
In face of the workers’ determination and widespread support for their fight, EGT in January agreed to hire ILWU members. They have been working in the terminal since February.
In an interview with the Militant, Dan Coffman, president of ILWU Local 21, explained what Halliday was doing during the Sept. 7 protest. “Halliday was using a log loader on the other side of a fence where protesters were gathering on train tracks near a grain train. He lifted a set of logs up so his view would not be obstructed.”
For that action, the Cowlitz County prosecutor charged him with five counts of “intent to do harm,” a felony assault charge. To avoid facing a possible three to five years in prison and the loss of his TWIC (transport workers identity card), Halliday decided to accept a plea bargain.
The felony charges were dropped in exchange for pleading “guilty” to delaying a train and three misdemeanors fourth degree assault charges, Coffman said. In an upcoming hearing with a judge, he expects to be sentenced to 120 days in jail—60 of which will be on work release—fined $2,000 in court costs and serve two years probation.
While there are no other cases pending for members of the local, the Cowlitz County prosecutor’s office has decided to retry ILWU International President Robert McEllrath, who was acquitted following a hung jury in late June of charges stemming from the same protest, according to Coffman.
This trial is scheduled for late September.
Coffman also commented on the International Longshore Association pickets on the East Coast where longshore workers are protesting military work being carried out by non-ILA members.
“Here we go again,” Coffman said. “We were bolstered in our fight against EGT when ILA members Ken Riley from Charleston, S.C., and Mark Bass from Mobile, Ala., came out here to support us. We support them wholeheartedly. It is the same fight—an attack on our jurisdiction.”
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