SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, US —Longshore workers from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 19 who work at the Port of Seattle’s export grain terminal in the North Harbor recently voted in favor by a 93% yes vote to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement with Louis Dreyfus Co. (LDC) following three years of negotiations with the Netherlands-based corporation.

Negotiations for the new agreement began in the spring of 2018, and the previous agreement expired on May 31, 2018. The ILWU said improvements in the new agreement are significant for several reasons.

First, it achieves wage parity and creates a level playing field with the American-owned grain exporter, TEMCO, which was previously paying a higher rate than the foreign-owned LDC. TEMCO, a joint venture of Cargill and CHS, employs ILWU grain handlers at its facilities in the ports of Tacoma and Kalama, Washington, US, and Portland, Oregon, US.

Secondly, the ILWU said the agreement with LDC will pave the way to bring negotiations with other foreign-based grain exporters in line. The other foreign-based corporations hiring ILWU workers in the Pacific Northwest grain terminals include:  

  • United Grain Corp. (UGC) — owned by Mitsui of Japan, operating at the Port of Vancouver, Vancouver, Washington, US.
  • Columbia Export Terminal (CET) — owned by Marubeni of Japan, operating at the Port of Portland, Oregon, US.
  • EGT, owned by Korea-based Pan Ocean/Harim and US-based Bunge, operating at the Port of Longview, Washington, US.

The ILWU said the LDC agreement will serve as a benchmark for its 2022 negotiations with EGT.

“This new grain agreement between the ILWU grain handlers on the docks and the European employer brings both parties into the future to build upon our decades of successful, profitable movement of grain in the Pacific Northwest,” said Cam Williams, ILWU Coast Committeeman. “It includes advanced training programs, workforce stability, and operational improvements that will improve working conditions and productivity for the benefit of America’s farmers and workers.”