The International Longshore and Warehouse Union members on Tuesday will help load the first vessel to arrive at the new EGT export grain terminal in Longview, Wash., putting an end to months of rancor between the union and terminal management.
“EGT is open for business,” said Larry Clarke, chief executive of EGT. The $200 million terminal at the Port of Longview will support local workers and residents and will create export opportunities for thousands of American farmers in the Pacific Northwest and beyond, Clarke said.
“The men and women of the ILWU are pleased to bring many decades of grain handling experience to work at EGT,” said Robert McEllrath, ILWU international president.
The first vessel to arrive at EGT will be loaded with about 57,000 metric tons of white wheat grown in Washington state. The vessel, time-chartered from EGT’s partner company, STX Pan Ocean, will carry the shipment to Korea.
EGT is a joint venture of Bunge North America, Itochu International Inc. and Pan Ocean. The terminal is designed to handle wheat, corn, soybeans, soybean meal and distiller’s dried grain that will be carried to the facility by rail or barge.
General Construction, EGT's contractor, last year broke off contract negotiations with the ILWU and hired workers represented by another union. That triggered months of ILWU demonstrations that resulted in arrests of dozens of longshoremen on charges of property destruction and blocking a train from carrying grain to the terminal.
If Bunge had succeeded in opening the terminal without ILWU labor, it would have become the first non-ILWU manned grain terminal in the Pacific Northwest.
Last month, EGT and the ILWU announced a tentative settlement of legal issues that was brokered by Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire.
Last week, Bunge recognized ILWU Local 21 as the bargaining representative for the workers. The fundamental contract issues have been resolved, and EGT will operate the facility with ILWU-represented employees while the remaining details are being worked out, said Leal Sundet, ILWU coast committeeman.