LONGVIEW, WA (June 30, 2012) — After two days of trial for a simple misdemeanor, six Cowlitz County jurors Friday could not reach a verdict on the charges of obstructing a train against the ILWU’s International President, Robert McEllrath.
McEllrath had peacefully demonstrated on public land with other ILWU members during a labor dispute on September 7, 2011, and turned himself in at the Cowlitz County Hall of Justice on September 26 after learning of a warrant for his arrest.
The ILWU and EGT settled their dispute in February, and longshoremen have successfully loaded more than 20 ships for export at the facility.
“The ILWU appreciates the jury of Cowlitz County citizens that listened to the testimony and examined the evidence related to last year’s incident,” said Ray Familathe, ILWU Vice President for the Mainland. “At this point, the ILWU hopes that this result ends this chapter, and that Cowlitz County can move on with the business of finding good local jobs for local workers.”
Jeff Wilson, a Longview small business owner, said, “It’s time to for Cowlitz County to move forward and put our legal assets to work where they will achieve the most good for our community. County law enforcement officials should concentrate their resources on more serious and immediate issues – There’s no sense in going through the expense of a retrial and rehashing a labor dispute that has been long since settled.”
McEllrath is a longshoreman from Vancouver, Wash., who became a member of the ILWU in 1969 and served in several elected leadership positions at the local and international levels before being elected International President in 2006. He represents 50,000 workers in California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii, and negotiates the union’s collective bargaining agreement that covers all West Coast ports.
Dockworkers from around the world came to Longview this week to support McEllrath and all Local 21 workers during the trial. The 29 international delegates represented unions in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Denmark and Belgium.
– ILWU Coast Longshore Division