With a Sept. 30 deadline looming, Pacific Northwest grain handlers and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union are negotiating a new contract covering four export terminals in the region.
A spokesman for the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association said the negotiations, which began in late August, are proceeding without incident. There have been no reports of work disruptions or any other labor actions.
The grain handlers are somewhat on edge given the events surrounding the opening of the EGT facility last year in Longview, Wash. EGT attempted to open the terminal with non-ILWU labor, but after months of demonstrations and dozens of arrests, an agreement was brokered by the governor of Washington.
EGT opened its terminal earlier this year, and ILWU labor is employed at the facility. The EGT contract, however, will have an impact on the current negotiations involving the other terminals. The EGT agreement contains certain work rules that are said to be more advantageous to the employer than the contracts with the other terminals that expire on Sept. 30.
“Leveling the playing field and avoiding extreme competitive disparities among Northwest grain shippers and ports is vital,” the association stated in a release.
A spokesperson for the ILWU said the union has no comment at this time.