Portland grain terminal locks out union workers

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PORTLAND (AP) — The operator of a Columbia River grain terminal locked out union dock workers Saturday amid an escalating labor dispute.

The lockout at Columbia Grain Inc., which operates at the Port of Portland’s Terminal 5, is the second at a Pacific Northwest grain terminal this year following a lockout in march at United Grain Corp., in Vancouver, Wash.

In a statement Saturday, Columbia Grain said bargaining has stalled with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The company said union members have slowed their work, demanded repeated inspections of the same equipment and used other tactics to interfere with terminal operations.

“The decision was not made lightly,” the company said.

Two dozen picketers protested outside the terminal Saturday morning, the Oregonian reported. Portland police officers and private security stood by, and one demonstrator chased off a news photographer.

Company managers and temporary workers were loading grain into the Yu Hong, an 82,000-ton Panama-flagged bulk carrier.

Columbia Grain is owned by Marubeni, a Japanese company.

The dockworkers union condemned the lockout, saying managers hired replacement workers last fall, when talks were in early stages, showing that they never intended to reach agreement.

“Unfortunately, Marubeni-Columbia Grain has done what it’s wanted to do all along, and locked out local workers who have made this company profitable for decades,” Bruce Holte, president of ILWU Local 8, said in a statement.

Members of the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association have been trying to get the dockworkers’ union to agree to employer-friendly working conditions equivalent to those at Export Grain Terminal in Longview, Wash.

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