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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

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ILWU files suit against United Grain for unfair labor practices

Local 4 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union filed an unfair labor practice charge Monday with the National Labor Relations Board against Mitsui's United Grain terminal for the lockout of dockworkers at the Port of Vancouver since Wednesday, Feb. 27.
"It's shameful that Mitsui-United Grain, a Japanese corporation that's profiting from the United States' infrastructure, natural resources and labor, has chosen to violate our federal law instead of negotiating a fair labor agreement with its American workforce," said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath, a Vancouver-based longshoreman.
The basis of the charge is the union's allegation that Mitsui-United Grain "took the extreme measure of locking out its entire bargaining unit even though by its own statements it had identified and terminated the employee allegedly responsible for the property damage [that the company claimed took place on December 22 – 5 days before its unilateral implementation of its final offer.]. This constituted loss of employment based on anti-union animus, and a sweeping unilateral change of terms and conditions of employment."
ILWU Local 4 members are actively picketing the Mitsui-United Grain terminal.

Grain handling firm Temco and the ILWU announced the ratification of a five-year interim agreement last week covering grain terminals in Portland, Tacoma, and Kalama, Wash.

The lockout inflames ongoing tension over contract terms between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the owners of grain terminals in Portland, Vancouver and Seattle, represented by the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association.

United Grain, along with Columbia Grain and Louis Dreyfus Commodities, made a final contract offer to dockworkers in November 2012 that the membership voted down. Longshoremen continued working under the old contract terms, awaiting further talks. Columbia and Louis Dreyfus have not locked out workers.

Temco, formerly the fourth grain terminal owner represented by the association, broke with the group in late 2012 to negotiate its own deal with union workers.

No details were released about the agreement between Temco and ILWU Locals 23, 21, 19, 8 and 4, which will be signed and take effect on March 9, 2013.

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