How Nasty Can Union Violence Get And Still Be Legal?

Robert Doren, managing partner of Bond Schoeneck & King, is not involved in the Local 17 case but has represented some of the construction companies involved. The outcome of the case, he believes, will be significant.

"It's one in a series of cases brought in recent years that make it loud and clear that the criminal conduct of union officials will no longer be tolerated," he says. "Only when the courts allow prosecutors to pursue these claims can we expect the free enterprise system to flourish. In many places across the U.S., mostly in the North East and West, violence by union leadership has not been uncommon."

Earlier this month union violence erupted in the West, with angry longshoremen bringing shipping to a halt in the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.

At a new $200 million grain export terminal in Longview, Washington, 500 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, outraged that terminal owners were using labor from a different union, stormed the terminal before sunrise on September 8. Wielding baseball bats, they smashed windows and dumped tons of grain from 72 railroad freight cars, according to local law enforcement and to accounts in the Seattle Times, the New York Times and the Journal of Commerce.

A union spokesman said ILWU leadership had not organized the actions, describing them as wildcat and unsanctioned.

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