our inspectors, yelling obscenities in the inspector's face, and kicking the
Hover said inspection staff are covered by the Washington Federation of State Employees bargaining unit and "we have not required them to cross the picket line if they feel unsafe." While some inspectors "have up until now chosen to do so, there have been times when we have had to use our licensed managerial staff to inspect grain."
If interested parties fail to reach a solution by the first week of September, Hover said in his letter, then the state will notify federal officials that it will stop inspection services "until such time as our safety concerns are remedied."
The solution, Hover said, "must significantly reduce the 'flash-point' vulnerability that currently exists for our grain inspection program staff at the (United Grain) facility."
McCormick said the best way to resolve the problem is for the port to "direct its security personnel to intervene when illegal threats are used to intimidate people whose jobs require them to access the United Grain terminal, but who have no involvement at all in the labor dispute."
In an Aug. 26 letter to Hover, Gary Schuld, CEO of United Grain, said "port officials have failed to provide adequate security" despite evidence of daily intimidation of neutral parties by ILWU pickets. Schuld also said he wished a resolution of the labor dispute were in sight. On July 24, the union proposed a return to the bargaining table, Schuld said, and the grain companies agreed and suggested meeting in late August. "But nearly a month has passed, those days have arrived, and we've had no further contact from the union," Schuld wrote. "That leaves us confused, and doubtful about the union's desire to bargain in good faith."
Union spokeswoman Sargent said she wasn't aware of that correspondence but "I know the union has been trying to get the employer back to the negotiating table for months." She said the union is eager for an agreement that would put people back to work.
Wagner said port security "is doing a good job," including investigating incidents and reporting them to Vancouver police. United Grain and state inspectors need to work together to address their concerns about access to the company's facility, she said. "We don't see that there are inadequacies at this point," Wagner said of the port's handling of the matter.
Kim Kapp, spokeswoman for Vancouver police, said Tuesday that police have met with state Department of Agriculture officials "regarding their concerns and have continued to respond to the port when there have been safety concerns or traffic flow issues."
Kapp said police have been called to the disputed area at the port 19 times since July 1. "Mainly picketers blocking vehicles, some minor vehicle damage and an arrest of a female who made a verbal threat to a replacement worker," Kapp said in describing incidents.
In her Tuesday statement to The Columbian, Sargent said United Grain "brought volatility" to the port "when it locked out generations of local union workers who made the facility profitable and replaced them with non-union replacement workers." She said the company is failing to take responsibility "for its own provocative moves that have led to unsafe conditions, including hiring an out-of-state strikebreaking firm, bringing scab boats and mercenary security guards into our river, and demanding constant passage of vehicles through human picket lines."
Aaron Corvin: 360-735-4518; http://twitter.com/col_econ; http://on.fb.me/AaronCorvin; email@example.com.
(c)2013 The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.)
Visit The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.) at www.columbian.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
Most Popular Stories
- NSA Tracks 5 Billion Cellphone Records a Day
- W.H. Corrects Itself on Unclegate
- Pope Francis Says He'll Fight Child Sex Abuse
- Yemen Attack Kills 52
- Fast-Food Workers Want $15 an Hour
- Nelson Mandela Dead at 95
- Nelson Mandela Dies After Momentous Life
- Roybal-Allard Tours Gordon Brush Plant
- Twitter Names Woman to Board
- Aspen Contracting Adding 300 Jobs