PORTLAND, OR (December 21, 2012) – Thousands of members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union are voting in the Pacific Northwest today and tomorrow on whether to accept or reject a proposal that multinational grain industry leaders handed to the union negotiating committee on November 16 as what the employer called its “last, best and final” offer. Negotiations began in August; the collective bargaining relationship dates back to 1934.
“The vote is in the hands of nearly 3,000 men and women who have made these elevators successful by working in conditions that are not only strenuous, but also hazardous,” Jennifer Sargent, a spokesperson for the ILWU Coast Longshore Division. “These members are exercising their democratic union right to decide whether the industry’s proposal is positive or negative for their families, as well as for Northwest jobs and communities."
The votes are being cast in person on Friday and Saturday by members of ILWU Local 4 in Vancouver, WA; ILWU Local 8 in Portland, OR; ILWU Local 19 in Seattle, WA; and ILWU Local 23 in Tacoma, WA. The industry’s proposal covers six grain terminals owned by Japan-based Marubeni (Columbia Grain in Portland), Japan-based Mitsui (United Grain in Vancouver), Netherlands-based Louis Dreyfus Commodities (elevators in Seattle and Portland), and US-based Cargill and CHS (Temco elevators in Tacoma and Portand).
"The current Northwest Grainhandler's Agreement has been productive for several decades, but the multinational employer came to negotiations demanding more than 750 concessions from local workers," Sargent said. "The union negotiating committee has recommended that members cast a vote of 'no' on the industry's proposal."
Members vote by ballot at union dispatch halls in Portland, OR, and in Vancouver, Tacoma and Seattle, WA. The union will notify the employer by noon on Dec. 24 as to the results of the vote.