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ILWU, area grain elevator operators begin contract talks

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Northwest Grain Elevator Operators sent out the following joint news release on Tuesday:

PORTLAND, OR (Sept. 13) – On Monday, leaders from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and representatives of the Pacific Northwest Grain Elevator Operators opened negotiations for a new labor contract.

Both sides are guardedly optimistic that the negotiations will be smooth and productive and result in the continuation of their working relationship, which dates back to the 1930’s. The existing contract expires on October 1, 2011, and both sides have given notice of their intent to modify the expiring contract.

The ILWU represents 4,000 men and women on the docks and in grain terminals in Oregon and Washington. The Pacific Northwest Grain Elevator Operators consists of owners and operators of grain export terminals owned and/or operated by Cargill, Columbia Grain, Louis Dreyfus Commodities, CLD Pacific Grain, and United Grain Corporation. For decades, the companies have negotiated on a coordinated basis with the ILWU for labor in their grain export terminals.

Meanwhile, the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Department arrested two ILWU Local 21 in connection with the events of last Thursday. The (Longview) Daily News reports that a Kelso longshoreman was arrested Monday on suspicion of four felony charges in connection with vandalism of the EGT grain terminal after being identified by a witness who later saw a profanity-laced video of him confronting a TV news crew outside the ILWU hall. A Longview woman also was arrested and released Monday on suspicion of misdemeanor charges as part of longshore union effort to block an incoming train. Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson says more arrests are expected in the next few days.

For more information, see Here’s why Longshore workers in Longview are so angry (Sept. 8).

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