SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, U.S. – International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 19 longshore workers who work at the Port of Seattle’s North Harbor grain export terminal recently voted 93% in favor of ratifying a new collective bargaining agreement with Louis Dreyfus Co. (LDC) after three years of negotiations with the Dutch company.
Negotiations on the new agreement began in spring 2018 and the previous agreement expired on May 31, 2018. The ILWU said the improvements to the new agreement were important for several reasons.
First, it achieves wage parity and creates a level playing field with American-owned grain exporter TEMCO, which previously paid a higher rate than the foreign-owned LDC. TEMCO, a joint venture between Cargill and CHS, employs ILWU grain handlers at its facilities in the ports of Tacoma and Kalama, Washington, USA and Portland, Oregon, USA.
Second, the ILWU said the agreement with LDC will pave the way to align negotiations with other overseas grain exporters. Other overseas companies hiring ILWU workers at the Pacific Northwest Grain Terminals include:
- United Grain Corp. (UGC) – owned by Mitsui of Japan, operates out of Vancouver Harbor, Vancouver, Washington, USA.
- Columbia Export Terminal (CET) – owned by Marubeni of Japan, which operates in the Port of Portland, Oregon, USA.
- EGT, owned by Korea-based Pan Ocean / Harim and US-based Bunge, which operates in the Port of Longview, Washington, USA.
The ILWU said the LDC agreement will serve as a benchmark for its negotiations with EGT in 2022.
“This new grain agreement between the ILWU dock handlers and the European employer brings both parties into the future to build on our decades of successful and profitable grain transportation in the Pacific Northwest,” said Cam Williams, ILWU Coast Committeeman. “It includes training programs, workforce stability, and operational improvements that will improve working conditions and productivity for the benefit of American farmers and workers.”