| March 25
March 25 Contract talks between a group of U.S.
Pacific Northwest grain exporters and a dockworkers' union
remained stalemated on Monday after the first bargaining session
in three months, aided by a federal mediator, broke down on
A second meeting scheduled for Saturday was canceled.
No further talks were scheduled between the International
Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and three of the four grain
companies in the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association:
United Grain, Louis Dreyfus and Columbia Grain.
Cargill-CHS joint venture TEMCO, the fourth member of the
collective negotiating group representing the Puget Sound and
Columbia River elevators, reached a tentative contract agreement
with the ILWU independently last month.
The ILWU wants the other three companies to consider
implementing the terms of the TEMCO contract.
"It's pure greed that's stopping these profitable foreign
grain merchants from reaching a win-win agreement with workers
as their American counterpart TEMCO has done," said ILWU
International President Robert McEllrath.
The companies are insisting on work-rule changes that they
say would improve efficiency and put them on a more level
playing field with rival exporters in the region.
"We are disappointed that the union presented us with a
proposal less favorable than their last proposal of Dec. 12,
2012 - one which we previously advised was unacceptable," said
Pat McCormick, a spokesman for the grain companies.
"It continues to be our position that we need parity with
our competitors in Longview and Kalama," he said, referring to
the rival exporters that are not part of the Grain Handlers
A previous contract between the union and the Grain Handlers
Association, which represent six of the nine grain export
elevators in the region, expired in September.
Unsuccessful negotiations led terminal operators late last
year to declare an impasse and impose the terms of their final
contract offer. ILWU-represented employees continue to work
under those terms at the Louis Dreyfus and Columbia Grain
Non-union workers and managers are handling shipments from
the United Grain terminal after that company locked out union
workers because it said a union leader sabotaged equipment
Elevators in the PNW ship nearly half of U.S. wheat exports
and a quarter of other grain and oilseed exports every year. The
PNW is the most direct outlet for U.S. shipments to major
markets in Asia.
(Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by Peter Galloway)