Grain shippers declare impasse in talks with NW dockworkers

SEATTLE Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:36pm EST

SEATTLE Dec 26 (Reuters) - Grain shippers declared a formal impasse in stalled contract talks with nearly 3,000 union dockworkers at four U.S. Pacific Northwest ports on Wednesday and moved to unilaterally impose terms of a "final" offer union members soundly rejected days ago.

The Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers, which represents the shipping companies and grain terminals they own, stressed the move was not a "lockout" of workers, which had been widely expected after management's latest contract proposal failed to win approval. They also left open the door to further talks.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union said its members would remain on the job, despite "the substandard provisions of the employers' last offer," averting for now the prospect of immediate labor unrest on the Northwest waterfront.

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