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Monday, December 24, 2012

Lockout Looms as Longshoremen Reject Contract at Pacific NW Grain Terminals

Posted by on Mon, Dec 24, 2012 at 4:39 PM

Over 3,000 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) who have been working at nine Pacific Northwest grain export terminals without a contract since September 30, have overwhelmingly rejected the "last, best, and final" contract offered by grain shippers, setting the stage for would could be a long and bitter lockout. Grain operators have reportedly contracted with a Delaware company that specializes in providing strikebreakers, many of whom are already on call, waiting in area hotel rooms for the lockout to begin.

The ILWU claims that the grain terminal operators have demanded more than 750 concessions from local workers.

About a quarter of the nation's grain exports and about half its wheat exports move through Pacific Northwest ports, including the Port of Seattle's grain facility at Terminal 86, just north of the downtown. According to the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, Washington is the 4th largest wheat producing state in the nation, and at $925 million, wheat is Washington's third most valuable agricultural product (after apples and milk). Between 85 and 90 percent of Washington's wheat harvest is exported overseas.

This is big business for both Washington wheat growers and grain exporters, not to mention the 3,000 workers whose jobs are now being threatened by professional scabs. So if the industry does lockout the union and bring in replacement workers, don't be surprised if the dispute turns nasty awfully damn quick.


Comments (17) RSS

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Cato the Younger Younger 1
Union members need to treat scabs like their grandparents did. "Appropriately"
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on December 24, 2012 at 5:10 PM · Report this
JensR 2
First time I've agreed completely with Cato... wow christmas miracle.

A scab is a scab is a scab.
Posted by JensR on December 24, 2012 at 5:36 PM · Report this
emor 3
Indeed, fuck scabs.
Posted by emor on December 24, 2012 at 5:48 PM · Report this
JensR 4
Oh and this is their facebook page:…

And this is their homepage with a "contact us" thing at the far right:

Remember its a security company so... don't do or say anything that can be considered illegal but here's a site that lists good proxy alternatives:
Posted by JensR on December 24, 2012 at 5:49 PM · Report this
No one has ever accused union longshoremen of being pussies. The terminal operators must be insane. Their insurance carrier should cancel their policy on the basis of insanity.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on December 24, 2012 at 6:00 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 6
How can I get a ride to the strike? I want to support the Longshoremen by providing strike relief. If there is anything else I can do, I will gladly do that too.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on December 24, 2012 at 6:11 PM · Report this
MrBaker 7
So, what was the contract offer that was rejected?
Posted by MrBaker on December 24, 2012 at 8:13 PM · Report this
Maybe Ian Finklewanker and Occupy Seattle can save 'em!
Posted by I coulda been a contender Charlie! on December 24, 2012 at 8:40 PM · Report this
Couldn't we find Mexicans to do this work?
Posted by It's not exactly high skilled on December 24, 2012 at 9:42 PM · Report this
MrBaker 10
The bargaining has not been about wages and benefits, but rather workplace rules, according to the companies, which say they are seeking contract concessions equivalent to what the union already has offered two competitors — EGT in Longview and Kalama Export in Kalama.

The rejected proposal called for the hourly wage for registered members to increase to between $34 and $36, with an additional $30 an hour for benefits, according to the grain exporters.

The companies said they want greater management discretion on a range of hiring and staffing decisions. They said they’ve held 34 days of meetings, including 11 facilitated by a federal labor mediator but remain millions of dollars apart on the question of labor costs.…
Posted by MrBaker on December 24, 2012 at 9:43 PM · Report this
These unions operate like the mob....oh wait, they are.
Posted by La Cosa Nostra on December 24, 2012 at 9:54 PM · Report this
@1: Right on.
Posted by tiktok on December 24, 2012 at 10:06 PM · Report this
Goldy, what is your source for the assertion you made in the Morning News that Crapo is a Bishop?
Posted by Fair and Balanced on December 24, 2012 at 11:21 PM · Report this
Sandiai 14
@13, what source DOESN'T say that?

You sure have been busy with this one question. Is there something wrong with you?
Posted by Sandiai on December 25, 2012 at 3:34 PM · Report this

Businesses warn of 'coast wide port shutdown' as union strike looms, appeal for Obama intervention
Published December 25, 2012

As if Superstorm Sandy and the looming fiscal crisis weren't enough, a potential strike by thousands of dock workers from Boston to Houston threatens to shock the economy as early as this weekend.

>>>Business groups and state officials in recent days have called on President Obama to intervene, and use emergency powers to "avoid a coast wide port shutdown."

They warn it could cost billions, citing estimates that a 10-day port lockout in 2002 cost $1 billion a day -- and caused a major backlog in shipments.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott is the latest to enter the fray and call for White House intervention. But a port strike would affect more than the East and Gulf coasts, where all these ports are located. It could choke supply chains across the country. Groups ranging from the automobile industry to the National Retail Federation to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the Cheese Importers Association of America are warning of dire consequences.
"Failure to reach an agreement resulting in a coast wide shutdown will have serious economy-wide impacts," those and dozens of other groups wrote to Obama last week. They said "just the threat of a shutdown" has forced many businesses to enact costly "contingency plans."
At issue is a labor dispute between the International Longshoremen's Association, which represents dock workers, and the U.S. Maritime Alliance, which represents port operators and shipping companies.
Talks between the dock workers and the shipping companies broke down Dec. 18, just weeks after a critical West Coast port complex was crippled by a strike involving a few hundred workers.
Federal mediators have since called a meeting before the end of the week, in hopes of resolving the disagreement before the Dec. 29 expiration of the dock workers' latest contract extension.
The union could strike after that date without a resolution.
The disagreement has worried scores of business groups because of the sheer number of workers and ports involved. The union represents 14,500 workers at more than a dozen ports extending south from Boston and handling 95 percent of all containerized shipments from Maine to Texas, about 110 million tons' worth.
The New York-New Jersey ports handle the most cargo on the East Coast, valued at $208 billion last year. The other ports that would be affected by a strike are Boston; Delaware River; Baltimore; Hampton Roads, Va.; Wilmington, N.C.; Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Port Everglades, Fla.; Miami; Tampa, Fla.; Mobile, Ala.; New Orleans; and Houston.
Florida Gov. Scott recently wrote a letter to Obama warning of the "devastating" impact a strike would have on his state, where cargo-related activity "generates more than 550,000 direct and indirect jobs." He also recalled how, in 2002, "tons of perishable cargo were destroyed" in the West Coast lockout.
He, along with groups like the National Retail Federation, want Obama to use his powers under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act to try and prevent a strike.
The National Retail Federation has called on the president to "use all means necessary" to avert the closure of ports.
The White House did not say whether Obama would get personally involved, but made clear they are monitoring.
"Federal mediators are assisting with the negotiations, and we continue to monitor the situation closely and urge the parties to continue their work at the negotiating table to get a deal done as quickly as possible," White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said in a statement to Fox News.
The dispute and threatened strike come at a particularly vulnerable time for the U.S. economy. Roughly $110 billion in spending cuts are set to take effect starting in January if Congress cannot come up with an alternative plan. On top of that are more than $500 billion in scheduled tax hikes, which Washington also has not yet been able to reduce.
In the dock worker labor talks, issues including wages are unresolved, but the key sticking point is container royalties, which are payments to union workers based on cargo weight.
Port operators and shipping companies want to cap the royalties at last year's levels. They say the royalties have morphed into a huge expense unrelated to their original purpose and amount to a bonus averaging $15,500 a year for East Coast workers already earning more than $50 an hour.
Posted by asleep at the wheel on December 25, 2012 at 9:27 PM · Report this
In the dock worker labor talks, issues including wages are unresolved, but the key sticking point is container royalties, which are payments to union workers based on cargo weight.
Port operators and shipping companies want to cap the royalties at last year's levels. They say the royalties have morphed into a huge expense unrelated to their original purpose and amount to a bonus averaging $15,500 a year for East Coast workers already earning more than $50 an hour.
Posted by $15,500 for workers already earning more than $50 an hour on December 25, 2012 at 9:28 PM · Report this

the one goldy linked.
Posted by No. Thanks for asking. Is something wrong with you? on December 25, 2012 at 9:30 PM · Report this

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