A Port of Longview, Wash., grain terminal shut down temporarily on Friday when International Longshore and Warehouse Union protesters attempted to prevent vehicles from entering the facility in a standoff that extended into a seventh day.
The ILWU, which has a contract with the port and has been recognized as the sole supplier of longshore labor at West Coast ports, is protesting EGT Development’s agreement to use the International Union of Operating Engineers to operate the terminal.
An ILWU spokeswoman insists the union will retain that jurisdiction. “The International Longshore and Warehouse Union is the most skilled and experienced grain-exporting work force in the world and rejects all attempts to undermine the safety, wages, benefits and working conditions spelled out in the Northwest Grainhandler’s Agreement,” spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent said.
The ILWU had been negotiating with EGT for a contract, but talks broke down earlier this year. ILWU picketers have been showing up at the terminal gates on a regular basis.
Last week, a BNSF train carrying grain to the terminal was diverted to another port because of picketing.
Construction of the $200 million grain export terminal is almost complete. EGT wants to run test shipments with the International Union of Operating Engineers providing the labor.
The Port of Longview supports the ILWU. Frank Randolph, an attorney representing the port, said the Port of Longview has a working agreement with the ILWU and EGT knew that when it decided to build the grain terminal.
EGT sued Longview in January, saying it is not bound by the agreement between the port and the ILWU. The ILWU was recently given permission to join the port in the lawsuit. The case is scheduled to be heard in federal court in Tacoma in September.
Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at email@example.com.