February 27, 2013 / 8:15 PM / 5 years ago

PNW port worker union ratifies pact with CHS/Cargill's TEMCO

* TEMCO, ILWU agree to 5-year deal, to be signed March 9

* Contract covers 3 PNW terminals in Oregon and Washington

Feb 27 (Reuters) - TEMCO, a joint venture of U.S. agribusinesses Cargill and CHS Inc, and a dock workers union at export terminals in the Pacific Northwest said on Wednesday they have agreed to a five-year union contract to be signed and implemented on March 9.

Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) voted to ratify the deal, which covers three of nine grain export facilities in the PNW. The three, all operated by TEMCO, are in Portland, Oregon, and in Tacoma and Kalama in Washington State.

The contract is subject to modification pending any final contract agreement between the ILWU and the Pacific Northwest Grain Elevator Operators, a coalition of PNW grain handlers that includes TEMCO as well as United Grain Corp, Louis Dreyfus and Columbia Grain.

The two parties have been in stalemate for months over work-rule changes sought by the companies to improve efficiency but opposed by the ILWU as onerous give-backs designed to break the union. TEMCO peeled away from the coalition to negotiate an agreement with the union but remains part of the group.

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.

In other news, United Grain Corp on Wednesday locked out ILWU workers from its Port of Vancouver grain terminal after finding evidence that a union leader deliberately sabotaged equipment. UGC plans to operate the terminal with management personnel and replacement workers.

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