ILWU, PNW grain terminals reach tentative agreement

Bill Mongelluzzo, August 12, 2014,

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union on Aug. 11 reached a tentative agreement with grain terminals in the Pacific Northwest, potentially ending two years of lockouts, picketing and interruptions in U.S. grain exports.


The tentative agreement between the ILWU and the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association, which must be ratified by the general membership, was reached with the assistance of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.


“After engaging in difficult and contentious bargaining for over two years, including multiple marathon mediation sessions held under the auspices of the FMCS, the announcement of the tentative agreement, subject to the ratification of ILWU membership, represents an amazing achievement of a potentially positive outcome in a labor dispute that has gained national attention,” said Scot L. Beckenbaugh, acting FMCS director.


The agreement involves ILWU locals working at the United Grain terminal in Vancouver, Washington, the Columbia Grain facility in Portland and the Louis-Dreyfus terminals in Portland and Seattle. An IILWU spokeswoman said each local will vote on the agreement according to its own rules, and the results will be announced on Aug. 25.


She added that “reduced picket lines” will remain at the United Grain and Columbia Grain terminals while the membership votes on the contracts.


The grain contract is separate from the coastwide contract negotiations between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association that have been underway since May 12. The grain companies are not members of the PMA.


However, the tentative agreement could have a positive impact on the coastwide contract negotiations. Those talks in San Francisco have been interrupted several times this summer so ILWU negotiators could travel to the Pacific Northwest to participate in the grain talks.


The FMCS did not comment on the terms of the pact. A spokesman for the grain companies said that as part of the tentative agreement, the two parties will mutually release one another from complaints pending before the National Labor Relations Board, but neither party will comment further until the tentative agreement is presented to the ILWU membership.


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