Facing a Sunday deadline, negotiators for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and grain terminal operators in the Pacific Northwest agreed to extend contract talks until mid-October.
“The grain elevator operators anticipate normal operations during the period of continued bargaining,” a spokesman for the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association said Sunday.
The current contract between the ILWU and four grain terminals expired on Sunday. Negotiations for a new contract began in late August and have continued on a regular basis since then.
Grain Handlers Association spokesman Pat McCormick said the parties have scheduled a number of bargaining sessions into mid-October.
Also at the weekend, a Cowlitz County., Wash., jury found ILWU President Robert McEllrath guilty of attempting to block a train from entering the new EGT grain export terminal during demonstrations last year at the Longview, Wash., facility.
McEllrath was sentenced to one day in jail and was given an 89-day suspended sentence. McEllrath must also pay $543 in fines and court costs.
The ILWU last year held a series of demonstrations to protest plans by EGT to operate the export terminal with workers that are members of another union. Dozens of longshoremen and their spouses were arrested during the demonstrations.
EGT and the ILWU later agreed to a contract under which ILWU members will work at the facility. However, the contract gives EGT certain concessions that other grain terminal operators in the Pacific Northwest do not have. For example, EGT can bypass the ILWU hiring hall in assigning workers.
Member companies of the grain handlers association want similar concessions in the new contract that is now under negotiation, and that is reportedly one of the sticking points in the talks.