Judge rejects Port of Portland injunction request, strike planned

Judge rejects Port of Portland injunction request, strike planned
File--This June 29, 2012, file photo shows containers sitting at the Port of Portland's Terminal 6, in Portland, Ore. The Port says cargo ships are planning to bypass the city because of a strike threatened Sunday by marine terminal security guards represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A judge Wednesday rejected the Port of Portland's request for an emergency injunction that would block a strike by marine terminal security guards.

The security guards represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union plan to go on strike Sunday because of failed contract negotiations. It's assumed that the longshoremen who load and unload ships will refuse to cross the picket lines, effectively shutting down three terminals.

In seeking the injunction, port lawyers contended that a strike would cause irreparable harm to the regional economy. Their petition seeking relief noted that in 2011 about 18,000 jobs in the Portland metropolitan area were supported by marine cargo activity in Portland harbor.

The lawyers, however, failed to persuade Multnomah County Judge John Wittmayer that a disaster is imminent, or there is a threat to the public's health and safety.

"There's an incredibly high burden of proof that one has to give (to get an injunction)," said Kama Simonds, a port spokeswoman. "That happens in court, people disagree with you."

Talks with a state government mediator are planned for Saturday in hope of preventing the strike.

"This should encourage the port to get more serious about trying to negotiate a solution and hammering out an agreement in the remaining days," said Craig Merrilees, a union spokesman.

Shipping companies, meanwhile, are deciding whether to bypass the city because of the labor problems.

Simonds said vessel schedules are very fluid, and it's anticipated that some might arrive early to avoid the strike.

Hapag-Lloyd's Cape Manila container ship arrived in Tacoma on Wednesday. According to an online schedule, it's due in Portland early Friday and expected to leave Saturday.

The Hanjin Geneva remains on schedule to arrive Sunday evening.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.