Market Matters Blog
Katie Micik DTN Markets Editor

Wednesday 02/27/13

PNW Labor Drama Takes a Turn

A fractured alliance among grain groups in the Pacific Northwest lead to divergent outcomes on Wednesday: some longshoremen got a new contract, others got locked out.

Temco, Cargill and CHS's joint venture, announced today they reached a five-year agreement with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, while United Grain Corp locked out ILWU labor, accusing a local union leader of sabotaging operations.

Months of tense silence around the labor talks exploded into finger pointing today. United Grain's announced it determined that the employee who shoved a 2-foot metal pipe into a conveyor and damaged a gear box was a local union leader. They fired the employee and locked out the union.

"Deliberate attempts by an ILWU leader to damage equipment, disrupt operations and put co-workers at risk cannot be tolerated," United Grain CEO Gary Schuld said, according to the Associate Press. They estimate the unnamed employee caused about $100,000 of damage and are cooperating with law enforcement.

Meanwhile, the ILWU is accusing United Grain of making up the story in order to lock out workers.

"Mitsui-United Grain has fabricated a story as an excuse to do what they've wanted to do all along, which is to lock workers out instead of reach a fair agreement with them," ILWU spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent said in a statement. Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co. owns United Grain.

And the Oregonian reports that Sargent also suggested that United Grain timed its lockout to the announcement of Temco's agreement.

For more, I'd recommend the Oregonian, and you can find the story here: http://www.oregonlive.com/…

Posted at 4:12PM CST 02/27/13 by Katie Micik
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