Split in grain terminal talks

john.gillie@thenewstribune.comDecember 28, 2012 

Tacoma union longshore workers worked at Tacoma’s Temco grain terminal Thursday under the provisions of an existing labor agreement despite the imposition of a new set of wages and working conditions by other companies at Northwest export grain elevators.

Scott Mason, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 23 president, said Temco apparently isn’t following the pattern set by those other grain terminal owners.

Those owners, Louis Dreyfus, United Grain and Columbia Grain, represented by the Northwest Grain Handlers Association, this week implemented their “last, best and final” contract offer despite Longshore union members’ rejection of that agreement in a weekend vote. Some 94 percent of union members voting chose to reject the offer.

The three terminal operators informed the union early this week they would impose the offer, an action allowed under labor law. Temco, a joint venture of Cargill and CHS, didn’t sign that letter. Temco had been negotiating alongside the other three companies until that point.

Temco operates a grain terminal on Tacoma’s Schuster Parkway, a terminal in Portland and a Kalama terminal. That Kalama terminal is operated under a separate agreement with Longshore Local 21 of Longview.

Mason said the union has suggested further negotiating dates to Temco.

“Our goal is to get back to the table,” said Mason. “We believe that they want an agreement or they wouldn’t have broken away from the other three.”

The new contract offer, now in effect at the other companies’ terminals in Puget Sound and on the Columbia River, makes work rule changes the union says are unacceptable and threaten safety at the terminals.

The contract, the grain companies said, would raise the hourly wage rate to $34-$36 and benefit costs to $30 an hour.

Some of those work rule concessions, the grain handlers association claims, are already in effect at the EGT terminal in Longview and the Temco terminal in Kalama, both covered by separate contracts.

Temco and its parent, Cargill, declined to comment, saying they never comment on ongoing labor negotiations.

John Gillie: 253-597-8663 john.gillie@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/business

The Olympian is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service