Judge set to rule on Tidewater complaint against union

first_imgA judge in Portland is expected to decide as early as today whether to bar the International Longshore and Warehouse Union from interfering with the operations of Vancouver-based Tidewater Barge Lines when the union carries out pickets against Columbia Grain in Portland and United Grain in Vancouver.At issue is whether water-based pickets by the union, held as part of its yearlong contract dispute with Northwest grain handlers, should be allowed to impact ostensibly neutral companies that are moving cargo on the region’s waterways for the grain companies.U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken heard arguments Thursday, including from attorneys representing Tidewater and the ILWU, and from an official with the National Labor Relations Board. The hearing was in response to an Aug. 26 complaint filed by Tidewater with the NLRB. It alleges the union has damaged its business by picketing near the company’s facilities at sites along the Snake and Columbia rivers. The NLRB, which investigated Tidewater’s complaint, is asking Judge Aiken to prohibit the ILWU from conducting pickets that interfere with operations by Tidewater and other transportation companies.In defending its water-based pickets, the union is urging Aiken to deny the NLRB’s request, according to court documents. Attorneys for the union argue there’s no basis for it and that it would infringe on the longshore union’s free speech rights.Meanwhile, in a separate but related matter, Tidewater, an operator of tugboats and barges, has filed a lawsuit against the ILWU and its local units in Portland and Vancouver. The suit, filed on Oct. 2 in U.S. District Court in Portland, alleges the union, in its pickets against Columbia Grain and United Grain, has “coerced or restrained” Tidewater, the company’s employees and others in attempts to further its dispute against the grain companies. United Grain andlast_img read more