Parties On Standby In Grain Terminal Labor Dispute

Nov 29, 2012

Talks between some northwest grain shippers and a handful of longshore unions have paused. From Oregon Public Broadcasting, April Baer reports the two sides are trying to work through contract talks that have the potential to bottle up grain exports to Asia.

Midway through the month, the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association presented four Longshore unions with what the Association calls its, quote, "last, best, and final offer" for a contract. At the close of the latest round of talks, the grain handlers said they'd received comments back from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The Association will respond to those comments sometime Thursday.

Jennifer Sargent is a spokeswoman for the ILWU. She says the union is not taking steps toward a strike vote, and has no stoppage planned. She says the union does not believe the talks are at an impasse, and hopes to get back to the bargaining table.

Nine terminals handle grain in the Northwest. These talks concern six of them: two in the Seattle area, one in Tacoma, one in Vancouver, Washington, and the rest in the North end of Portland.

The talks have been colored by concessions won by Longview's Export Grain Terminal earlier in the year.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio