Terminal owners to implement final offer

PORTLAND, Ore. — The owners of four Pacific Northwest grain terminals have informed the longshore union they will not lock them out of their jobs. Instead, they will implement the terms of their final contract offer today.

Under federal law, employers can take that step when parties reach a bargaining impasse. The last contract expired Sept. 30 and negotiations have stalled.

“This is not a lock out,” the employers said in a statement. “The companies informed the union that ILWU members are welcome to come to work under the new terms and conditions of employment.”

Wednesday’s action puts the International Longshore and Warehouse Union on the spot. Its options include accepting the offer, calling for a strike or seeking further bargaining while working under the new terms.

The union is reviewing the owners’ letter, ILWU spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent said in a statement. For now, employees “intend to continue working despite the substandard provisions of the employer’s last offer,” she said.

The owners submitted their final offer Nov. 16 and it was rejected by union membership 94 percent to 6 percent. The union, contending talks were not at an impasse, offered additional dates.

Though it’s unknown for how long the longshoremen will work under terms they oppose, each day without a strike or lockout is good for farmers and their customers in Asia. More than a quarter of all U.S. grain exports and nearly half of U.S. wheat exports move through grain terminals on the Willamette River and Puget Sound.

The dispute initially involved six of those terminals that operate under a single collective bargaining agreement with the ILWU:

Japan-based Marubeni Corp. (Columbia Grain in Portland).

Japan-based Mitsui &Co. (United Grain in Vancouver, Wash.).

Amsterdam-based Louis Dreyfus Commodities (grain elevators in Seattle and Portland).

United States-based Cargill and CHS Inc. (elevators in Tacoma and Portland).

But one of the four owners, the Cargill and CHS joint venture, has broken away from the consortium and is believed to be negotiating separately with the union. It was not included in the letter the other owners emailed Wednesday to Leal Sundet, an ILWU coast committeeman, informing him of their decision to implement the terms of the last offer.

Both sides have said workplace rules and management rights have been the sticking point during talks.

Northwest grain terminals based in the Washington cities of Longview and Kalama operate under separate agreements with the ILWU. Terminals operators in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver say they are at a competitive disadvantage because the longshoremen at their facilities have more favorable rules than those in Kalama and Longview.

The owners want to eliminate perks such as paying workers a half-hour’s wages for working as little as six minutes. They also want greater discretion in hiring and staffing decisions and, according to a statement, “the ability to hold the union to its agreement not to engage in work stoppages.”

More in Herald Business Journal

Boeing marks the start of 777X production at Paine Field

It took tax breaks and union concessions to land assembly of the company’s new jetliner in Everett.

Amazon leases a southwest Everett warehouse for deliveries

The Seaway Center building is not as big as one of the company’s more typical fulfillment centers.

Health-care consumers need to take the lead, so get smart

David Russian, CEO of Western Washington Medical Group, writes our third essay about fixing health care.

Amazon says it received 238 proposals for 2nd headquarters

43 U.S. states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, 3 Mexican states and 6 Canadian provinces want HQ2.

JCPenney partners with EvCC, WSU to assist students

Earlier this month, JCPenney partnered with the Career Service Centers at Everett… Continue reading

Re/Max Elite adds two agents in Lynnwood

Jenelle Dent and Lori DaSilva have joined Re/Max Elite as agents at… Continue reading

Register for Marysville Tulalip Business Before Hours event

The Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce holds its next Business Before… Continue reading

Wells Fargo donates $2,500 to Edmonds Center for the Arts

Edmonds Center for the Arts has received a grant of $2,500 from… Continue reading

More business, more competition for Everett kidney dialysis center

Nonprofit Puget Sound Kidney Centers sees large for-profit competitors enter state market.

Most Read