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Longshore union to appeal judge’s $250,000 fine

TACOMA, Wash. – A Longshore union says it plans to appeal a federal judge's quarter-million dollar fine for its tactics in a Longview labor dispute.

Friday, lawyers on various sides of the case argued first about that punishment for a clash in early September. Later, the judge took up the heart of the matter. .

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton found the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in contempt of court for blocking a train and storming a grain terminal about three weeks ago. He's now fined the union $250,000.

In addition, he put union leaders and members on notice they'll be personally fined if there's further trouble. A longshore union spokesman calls the calculation of the fine unjust and arbitrary, and promises it will be appealed.

In a separate hearing, Judge Leighton tackled the underlying issue. He listened to arguments about whether the grain terminal's lease with the Port of Longview compels the company to hire local longshoremen. The terminal operator instead is trying to save money by hiring workers from a different union based in Oregon.

The judge says he's "confounded" by the contract dispute. He says he'll try to issue an initial ruling about the lease terms in about a week.

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Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.