Friday, August 15, 2014

Vancouver Grain Inspectors Back on the Job

By Mark Edward Nero

A tentative contract agreement between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Northwest Grain Companies resulted in federal grain inspectors at the Port of Vancouver USA returning to the job Aug. 12 after staying away for weeks due to safety concerns.

The agreement was reached just before midnight on Aug. 11 and the inspectors returned to the job hours later. They had stayed away since July, which is when the government stopped supplying grain inspectors for United Grain Corp., following Washington Gov. Jay Inslee halting the practice of supplying troopers to escort inspectors in and out of the terminal past picketing international Longshore & Warehouse Union members.

The escorts began in response to an incident the prior month when one inspector filed a police report saying that they were verbally harassed while crossing the picket line.

In response to the pulling of the escort, inspectors had refused to enter the terminal, citing safety concerns, which led to United Grain halting grain shipments, which effectively shuttered terminal operations. But with the inspectors’ return, the United Grain terminal has resumed operations, just ahead of an expected ramp up of operations during the start of grain-shipping season in September.

The ILWU’s rank and file still needs to vote on the tentative agreement with the grain companies for it to become official, which is expected to happen in the coming days.