Grain Operations Resume
by Bob Burgdorfer
Grain operations resumed this week at the largest Pacific Northwest terminal after a month-long halt as state grain inspectors returned to work following a tentative contract settlement with the longshore union, a port spokesman told Farm Futures.
United Grain, which operates at the Port of Vancouver in Washington, had to suspend grain shipments in early July when Washington's governor withdrew escorts for the state's grain inspectors. That caused the state's Agriculture Department to withdraw inspection services.
State inspectors returned to work early on Tuesday at United Grain, while members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union are set to vote on the new contract this month, said Pat McCormick, spokesman for the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association, which represents United Grain.
"Operations are returning to normal and ILWU will return to work at United Grain and Columbia Grain as soon as the tentative agreement is ratified." said McCormick.
The settlement follows nearly two years of talks that included United Grain locking out ILWU workers since February 2013 and Columbia Grain locking them out beginning in May of that year. Columbia Grain, which operates at the Port of Portland, uses federal grain inspectors and its grain shipments were not interrupted.
The two facilities have been operating with replacement personnel since the lockouts.
The tentative agreement covers Mitsui-United Grain (UGC) in Vancouver, Marubeni-Columbia Grain in Portland, and Louis Dreyfus in Portland and Seattle, said Jennifer Sargent, spokeswoman for the ILWU.
"The membership of each local will review the tentative agreement and vote according to their internal rules, with results to be announced August 25," she said.
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