July 27, 2014
Does Governor Inslee Care About Starving Children In Asia?

First, some background so that you can understand why I ask that question.  There has been a long dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and a grain exporter, United Grain, which has a facility at the mouth of the Columbia River.

Last year, the National Labor Relations Board found that both sides were at fault:

NLRB regional director Ronald Hooks in Seattle says United Grain should have provided the union with a "timely, clear and complete offer" of what it needed to do to avoid to a lockout.

United Grain disputes the finding. An administrative law judge will hear the matter June 30.

Separately, Hooks said the longshoremen violated labor law by engaging in threats and violence early in the lockout.  For example, he said, picketers threw rocks at a security officer and threatened to rape a manager's daughter.

I don't know about you, but to me violence, and threats of violence, seem worse than not making a clear offer.

United Grain continued operating, and the picketing continued.  As did threats of violence against anyone crossing the picket line, including state grain inspectors.   For a time, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee provided state patrol officers to protect those inspectors, but he has now withdrawn them.

With the expected result:

To assuage the fears of state inspectors from the Washington State Department of Agriculture, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee directed state troopers to provide an escort past the longshoremen's picket lines in October 2013.

"They were being harassed. A lot of verbal abuse, obscenities and remarks our staff took as threats," said Hector Castro, spokesman for the WSDA.

Citing a lack of progress in labor talks between ILWU and several Northwest grain handlers, Inslee discontinued those escorts, which caused state inspectors to stop entering the United Grain facility on July 7.

(WSDA = Washington State Department of Agriculture.)

If the grain isn't inspected, it can't be exported.

Let's summarize:  On the left side, we have Governor Inslee and the ILWU.   On the right side, we have United Grain, farmers and farm workers, all the people who move that grain from the farms to the markets, the state inspectors, and those starving children in Asia.  (All right, technically, not all of the food will go to children, and not all of the children are currently starving, though some of them are certainly very hungry.)  I know which side I'm on.

We can't say, from this evidence, that Governor Inslee doesn't care about those children (and all the others on the right side of that dispute), but we can say that he cares more about the ILWU than the children and the rest.  And we can say that he isn't put off by the ILWU's tactics.

By way of Lars Larson, who has an interview with Hector Castro you can listen to.

Cross posted at Jim Miller on Politics.

Posted by Jim Miller at July 27, 2014 04:03 PM | Email This