EGT's parent company is Bunge, Ltd., a major agribusiness firm that has come under fire for everything from tax evasion, to rampant clearing of Amazon rainforest lands for soybean cultivation, to the use of slave labor in Brazil.
Although the terminal construction first brought hope to a small community inflicted with 15 percent unemployment , ILWU Local 21 President Dan Coffman says things soured when EGT brought in out-of-state laborers to build the facility, then refused to hire members of his union.
Coffman contends that EGT's lease with the port means the company is required to hire Local 21 workers, but EGT disputes this, and has been locked in a federal court battle with the port. The dispute has prompted union members to stage port blockades of their own, resulting in some arrests.
Peller, the Occupy Oakland organizer, announced on a megaphone Dec. 12 that occupiers in southern Washington had shut down the Port of Longview, according to a text message from ILWU Local 21. Union members wanted to thank the movement for the show of support, she added.
"They thought they could just run over a small local," Coffman told the Guardian, referencing EGT. "Well, David met Goliath. We're going to fight them till the bitter end."