EGT Labor Settlement Postpones
Negotiators are staying mum on how many jobs at the Port of Longview's EGT grain terminal will be filled by union longshoremen, but a tentative settlement has already compelled the longshore union and EGT to push back a key labor hearing at the heart of the dispute.
The National Labor Relations Board postponed a hearing scheduled for Monday on whether the International Longshore and Warehouse Union engaged in illegal picketing during last summer's protests, according to Frank Randolph, Port of Longview attorney.
The first day of the hearing, expected to last at least a month, has been rescheduled for Feb. 6. According to the labor board, the Pacific Maritime Association also is listed as a party because of the lost time incurred by shippers due to longshore walkouts in Longview, Seattle and Tacoma in September in protest of EGT's hiring policies.
Attorneys for EGT, the ILWU and the Port of Longview are discussing ways to modify the company's lease and the port's working agreement with the ILWU to create the legal framework to get union workers in the terminal, Randolph said Tuesday, adding that the parties are also trying to settle a federal lawsuit filed a year ago over the staffing of the terminal.
"It sounded like everyone was excited to move forward," said Randolph, who is not directly involved in the discussions.
Meanwhile, negotiators for the company and the union are expected to hammer out the final details of the tentative agreement, which was announced Monday by Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire. The final version must then be ratified by a vote of all ILWU members on the West Coast. Both sides have declined to comment on contract details before a final agreement has been reached.
The original talks broke down almost exactly one year ago, with both sides later saying they had conducted almost no real bargaining.
A few key disagreements emerged last January that will need to be resolved:
EGT had disagreed and instead retained General Construction, which employed members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 701, based in Gladstone, Ore., for the 25 to 35 jobs at the terminal.
Port of Longview Commissioner Lou Johnson, a marine clerk and ILWU member, said Tuesday he thinks an agreement will help soothe tensions between the port and longshoremen.
"It's going to start a healing process. It's probably not going to be instantaneous. As far as Local 21 and the port goes, that process has already started," he said.
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