It wasn’t Boston and it wasn’t tea; this time it was west coast ports and grain. From the WSJ:
Hundreds of International Longshore and Warehouse Union members stormed a newly built grain terminal as a labor dispute led to violence Thursday and the closing of the West Coast ports of Seattle and Tacoma.Longview police said the predawn intruders spilled grain from rail cars that entered the terminal late Wednesday, cut the brakes on some rail vehicles and tossed a security company’s SUV into a ditch…The work stoppages in Seattle and Tacoma raised the stakes in what already has been a fierce legal battle over the Longview facility, operated by EGT LLC, a Portland, Ore., joint venture between grain giant Bunge Ltd., Japan’s Itochu International Inc. and South Korea’s STX Pan Ocean Co. The $200 million investment includes a 50- to 80-year lease expected to generate $10 million or more a year in property taxes and port fees.
An ILWU spokeswoman said the longshoremen “wildcatted”. Perhaps. In Via Meadia‘s opinion, if the ILWU can’t keep its members from violence, it does not deserve to be treated as their bargaining agent.There is nothing noble or heroic about this thuggery. Violence was a part of early labor struggles in this country and in many others. In some unions, a climate of violence persists to this day — often though not always associated with mob infiltration. With a somewhat depressing frequency, it is the most indefensible labor practices that union vigilantes use violence to protect.The national interest requires efficient ports where cargoes can be safely and cheaply processed. Labor unions like the ILWU are living in the past; change needs to come to the waterfront and it will — violence or no.