Pacific Northwest grain companies, in their final contract offer to longshoremen, are demanding “750 changes to a contract that’s made the industry successful for the past 80 years,” the International Longshore and Warehouse Union stated Friday in a release, and prospects for union approval do not look good.
Members of ILWU Local 4 in Vancouver, Wash., Local 8 in Portland, Local 19 in Seattle and Local 23 in Tacoma are voting Friday and Saturday on the final contract offer made by the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association. The workers are voting in person at their respective union halls, and the ILWU will notify employers of the results by noon on Monday.
“The current Northwest Grain Handlers’ agreement has been productive for several decades, but the multinational employers came to negotiations demanding more than 750 concessions from local workers,” said Jennifer Sargent, spokeswoman for the ILWU Coast Longshore Division.
“The union negotiating committee has recommended that members cast a note of ‘no’ on the industry’s proposal,” Sargent said.
The grain handlers association has declined to comment while the union voting is under way, and the association is not commenting on local speculation that the employers are preparing for a lockout.
The industry’s contract proposal covers six grain export terminals owned by Marubeni (Columbia Grain) in Portland, Mitsui (United Grain) in Vancouver, Louis Dreyfus Commodities (elevators in Seattle and Portland) and Cargill and CHS (Temco elevators in Tacoma and Portland).