EGT recognized the Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 as the bargaining representative for workers at the new grain export terminal in Longview, Wash., signalling the wind-down of one of the most volatile West Coast jurisdictional disputes in years.
Workers’ decision to choose to be represented by the ILWU sets in motions negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement and the start of terminal operations. The Longview facility last year was the site of intense picketing as the ILWU attempted to prevent EGT from hiring workers represented by another union.
Dozens of longshoremen and their spouses were arrested when the picketers attempted to block trains from bringing grain to the terminal. If EGT had opened without ILWU labor, it would have been the first grain terminal in the Pacific Northwest to be operated without workers represented by the union. The ILWU since its founding in 1934 has represented waterfront workers at all West Coast ports.
Early this year, behind-the-scene negotiations brokered by Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire resulted in an announcement that EGT and the ILWU had reached a tentative agreement. Workers signed union authorization cards this week, and EGT voluntarily recognized ILWU Local 21 as the bargaining representative for workers on the vessel and at the terminal, the union stated.
Robert McEllrath, ILWU international president, said the union is committed to developing a long-term relationship with EGT, “one that benefits the community, establishes good local union jobs for years to come and contributes to the stability of the Pacific grain export industry.”