A “positive step”—that’s what International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) spokesperson Jennifer Sargent called Jay Inslee’s decision to pull the protection of state police from grain inspectors under the employment of the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Sargent cites “the governor’s decision to stop providing a taxpayer-subsidized public security service to foreign-owned grain companies” as the basis of her analysis.
We don’t buy it. And neither does the Seattle Times, which points out that the union spokesperson is not telling the truth: industry – not taxpayers – are paying to ensure the safety of the workers that her union is threatening.
Here’s the background. Eight months ago, Inslee ordered the State Patrol to accompany state-employed grain inspectors who needed to cross the Longshoremen’s picket line in order to perform their jobs. The state employees needed police escort due to the nature of death threats issued by the union. As Shift recently reported, the Longshoremen’s death threats are a part of the union’s ongoing picket line at the United Grain Co., a company that handles grain shipments. United Grain Co. locked out the Longshoremen out from its Vancouver port facility in 2013 in a labor contract disagreement.
According to a Ronald Hook, the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Longshoremen have gone as far as threatening rape and violence against the children of management at United Grain Co.’s terminal. The Oregonian wrote in March,
Hooks alleged that Local 4 members “threatened to rape the daughter of one of the employer’s managers,” and implied threats to harm a manager’s children by telling him they would “see his children at school” and asking, “are (his) children okay today?”
You see, contrary to what Sargent would have the public believe, police presence was offered for the protection of human beings (state AND company employees) against those who threatened to kill them (the union), not for the benefit of a company. Protecting the lives of human beings is the primary role of the police. The state and company employees pay taxes in order for the police to protect them, especially when they are being subjected to threats of rape and death.
It should be noted that United Grain Co. has offered to pay for “the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to escort grain inspectors past picket lines at its Port of Vancouver facility.” Noting that Inslee cited budgetary concerns in his decision to remove police protection, the company “said it was willing to reimburse the state for the cost of providing security escorts for the grain inspectors.”
The governor’s office refused United Grain Co.’s offer. Spokesperson Jaimie Smith insisted that, under state law, the State Patrol “lacks authority to contract police services to private entities. Private companies wanting to pay for security services can work with protection and security brokers who often hire off-duty officers and troopers.”
What else is impermissible under state law? Threatening the lives of government employees.
Inslee’s elimination of police protection and his refusal to allow United Grain Co. to pay for the protection of inspectors all points to one fact: The governor of Washington State is taking the side of the union which is making threats against state employees.
As Shift previously wrote, under the protection of the police, grain inspectors have been able to do their job and inspect the outgoing cargo. In turn, United Grain Co. has been able to ship its cargo to the benefit of the state’s economy. Without police protection, inspectors cannot do their jobs— the government will not put grain inspectors in life-threatening situations in an attempt to do their jobs. Without inspectors, grain will sit in warehouses at potentially large economic costs to the state.
In the end, Inslee’s withdrawal of police protection forces United Grain Co. to essentially negotiate under threat and — if the conflict is to be resolved and the grain exported—bend to the Longshoremen’s demands.
Which, of course, might be remembered by the union when Inslee needs to do a little fundraising for his next campaign.