Grain Terminal, Union Reach Settlementby Steve Brown
Capital Press, January 26, 2012
Governor facilitates compromise over labor dispute
Gov. Chris Gregoire helped piece together the deal that led to a truce in the battle between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and owners of a new grain terminal at Longview, Wash., her spokesman says.
Gregoire met separately with terminal owner EGT and the union about a dozen times since August, according to spokeswoman Karina Shagren.
"She helped the two parties outline issues and identify compromises," she said. "It's the first step to hammering out a labor deal."
EGT and the ILWU reached a tentative settlement Jan. 23 on legal issues surrounding labor disputes at the terminal. Gregoire commended both parties for their willingness to work together and compromise.
"This framework reflects considerable effort to put the interests of the Longview community and the entire Columbia River Basin first," Gregoire said in a news release. "I am confident an agreement can be reached that will satisfy both parties and allow the new grain terminal to become fully operational."
"While the parties are still working to finalize certain conditions over the next several days, we are optimistic we can resolve the dispute and get on with the business of operating the facility," Larry Clarke, CEO of the grain terminal, said.
The tentative settlement is "a win for the ILWU, EGT and the Longview community," Robert McEllrath, president of the ILWU, said.
EGT and the union have been locked in a battle over whether the terminal's lease with the Port of Longview requires it to hire ILWU members. EGT hired workers through a different union, Portland-based Operating Engineers Local 701.
A federal district court judge heard the dispute, but hasn't ruled on it.
Rail lines leading into the port were the site of several confrontations between union protesters and law enforcement officers. Since the beginning of July, 213 arrests have been made and 10 summonses were requested as a result of the dispute.
The first ship is due at the terminal within two weeks.
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