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United Grain and ILWU Reach Labor Deal at Major Pacific Northwest Grain Export Terminal

Mike Schuler
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May 5, 2022

The negotiating committees representing Longshore workers from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 4 union and management from the United Grain Corporation (UGC) have reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement covering grain handling operations at the Port of Vancouver USA’s export grain terminal.

The announcement comes after years of negotiations that began in the spring of 2018, during which operations have continued at the terminal.

ILWU workers at bulk grain terminals in the Pacific Northwest handle nearly half of U.S. wheat exports and about a quarter of all grain and oilseed at nine bulk grain terminals at Oregon and Washington ports. United Grain’s terminal at Port Vancouver USA has the largest storage capacity and elevator on the U.S. West Coast, with an annual handling capacity of 5 million tons.

The grain agreement is separate from the West Coast bargaining between the ILWU and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) negotiations that will begin later this month to cover all West Coast ports.

“Negotiations are never easy, but both the union and the employer stayed committed to bargaining a successor agreement as we have for decades, and in the end we reached an agreement that maintains good jobs for U.S. workers and strong exports for U.S. farmers,” said Cam Williams, ILWU Coast Committeeman and chair of the ILWU negotiating team. “ILWU workers are proud of exporting our nation’s grain to markets around the world since the 1930’s, and ensuring that employers at our public ports generate good jobs that support our West Coast port communities.”

“UGC is committed to this region and has long sought a level playing field with other regional grain exporters, and this agreement moves us towards that,” said UGC CEO Augusto Bassanini. “Throughout our shared 50-year history UGC and ILWU Local 4 have always found a way to come together because of our shared commitment to provide family-wage jobs for Longshore workers and the nearly 100 UGC employees living and working in our community.”

ILWU grainhandlers have been exporting grain from bulk grain terminals in Oregon and Washington since the 1930’s.

UGC began exporting American grown grain products through Vancouver in 1969 and directly employs over 100 people. Today, the Vancouver Export Terminal boasts the largest storage capacity on the West Coast and continues to drive export volumes at the Port of Vancouver USA.

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