Port of Vancouver’s 18-month labor fight is officially over

Joseph O’Sullivan, August 26, 2014, Seattle Times

After an 18-month lockout, picket lines around the Port of Vancouver and a political tussle over whether the government should help run the picket lines to inspect grain, longshore workers will head back to work on Wednesday.


The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) ratified a new union contract with United Grain Corp. (UGC), according to a press statement by the union. The new contract, which will run through May 2018, included changes to work rules and increases wages.


The agreement ends a contentious standoff that drew in state legislators and the governor’s office over whether the state Highway Patrol should escort grain inspectors past the picket lines so non-union workers could load boats.


“Bargaining was difficult, but in the end, both sides compromised significantly from their original positions, resulting in a workable collective bargaining agreement that preserves the work of the ILWU-represented workforce and fosters stability for the export grain industry,” Jennifer Sargent, spokeswoman for the union, said in the statement.


UGC had sought changes in work rules to make the contract more competitive against similar contracts in the industry, company spokesman Pat McCormick said last month.


Since the tentative agreement was reached on Aug. 11, grain inspectors were able to get back into the port, which has allowed the approximately 17 million bushels of grain scheduled to move in August to get onto ships.


“Shipments have been moving normally,” McCormick said this morning.

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