Market Matters Blog
Katie Micik DTN Markets Editor

Tuesday 11/27/12

Drama as PNW Dispute Deadline Nears

Labor negotiations at four of the Pacific Northwest's SIX grain terminals are nearing their final hours. The grain handlers offered the International Longshore and Warehouse Union its final offer with a deadline of midnight on Wednesday, November 28 for approval.

The ILWU has asked the grain terminals to extend the deadline, according to the Oregonian. A union spokesman said union leaders feel the talks are not at an impasse and have put additional negotiating dates on the table, with the earliest possible membership approval vote set for Dec. 21 and 22.

This comes a day after the ILWU claimed victory in separate labor negotiations between roughly 25 ILWU security officers and the Port of Portland. The loss of security forces would have effectively shut down two of Portland's busiest container shipping ports.

But as of Monday, the grain terminal owners had no immediate response to the union's request for more talks, "but all signs are that the coalition of four companies is preparing for a lockout or strike as soon as Thursday," the Oregonian article stated.

The grain terminals have had time to prepare for a strike and most likely will be able to keep operating even if it's not quite as efficient as when facilities are fully staffed.

The slow down comes at an inopportune time for grain and oilseed exports. One quarter of U.S. agriculture exports depart from PNW ports each year, and with this year's soybean exports expected to be front-loaded ahead of South America's harvest, a slowdown at the terminals could create a backlog and add to this year's logistical challenges.

But like any labor negotiation, we'll have to wait and see what the grain terminals decide to do.

To read the Oregonian's story:…

Posted at 9:48AM CST 11/27/12 by Katie Micik
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