Washington Governor Jay Inslee has cancelled a police escort that helped grain inspectors cross a union picket line at a terminal in Vancouver.
United Grain Corporation says millions of bushels of exports are in jeopardy.
The inspectors certify that shipments contain the right quality and amount of grain. They work for the Washington Department of Agriculture. Spokesman Hector Castro says that without a police escort, the inspectors won’t cross the picket line. He says they’ve been harassed.
“I would probably characterize a lot of it as intimidation,” Castro said. “Comments like, I know where you live. We have you on video. I know where you drink.”
A spokesman for United Grain says it has made every effort to guarantee the inspectors safety, even flying them in a helicopter for several weeks. He says Governor Inslee is pressuring United Grain to reach a deal with the longshoremen.
In a written statement, the governor said the police escorts were always meant to be temporary. And that after eight months, it became clear that they were not helping the negotiations between the company and the union.
United Grain and the longshore union meet next week to negotiate.
Copyright 2014 Oregon Public Broadcasting