A midnight Wednesday deadline for action by grain handlers and longshoremen in the Pacific Northwest came and went with no action taken.
Employers, represented by the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, on Thursday were each reviewing contract proposals designed to head off an employer lockout or strike.
The grain handlers had presented the ILWU with their final contract offer, with that offer set to expire at midnight Wednesday. The ILWU countered, and as of Thursday morning, the employers group had not responded to the union.
A spokesman for the grain handlers said the employers intended to respond directly to the union on Thursday.
The contract between the ILWU and six grain terminals in Oregon and Washington expired on Sept. 30. Negotiators have been unable to reach an agreement, despite assistance from a federal mediator.
Employers have reportedly offered an increase in the base wage, but they also seek to end certain work rules and payment practices they say make it difficult for their terminals to compete in the international grain trades.
The ILWU has emphasized for weeks now that it has no desire to see a lockout or a strike. The union said the employers’ proposal would compromise safety provisions in the grain contract that has governed ILWU work the past 80 years in what is considered a dangerous occupation.