Affects Major Shipping Operations
Port of Portland officials are bracing for a strike by longshore workers starting Nov. 25 that would tie up millions of dollars worth of freight at three terminals.
Representatives of the Port and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union say the strike could still be averted. But Port officials believe cargo ships may begin bypassing Portland because of the uncertainty created by the failure of last-ditch contract talks Friday.
Separately, owners of Northwest terminals handling a quarter of the nation's grain exports said Friday they'd presented a final offer to the longshore union. Failure of those talks could lead to a strike or lockout at six grain terminals in Portland, Vancouver and the Puget Sound.
The simultaneous actions are the most extreme developments in months of labor turmoil at the Port, where yet another dispute involving the same union led ships to bypass Portland last summer, clogging cargo and slowing Oregon's economy. Closure of the three Port terminals, let alone a crisis at the grain elevators, would wreak far greater economic havoc and could cause container shipping lines to pull out for good.
Only 25 security officers in union Local 28 work at the Port of Portland terminals that are headed for a strike. But their affiliation with the powerful West Coast longshore union magnifies the potential effects, as fellow members who handle cargo reserve the right not to cross the officers' picket lines.
"We are scheduled to strike in nine days and have no more meetings scheduled at this time," said Local 28 steward David Vale, in an email Friday. The strike plan sets the stage for a sort of perfect storm of labor disruptions on Portland's waterfront.
Coincidental breakdown of the security officer talks and the grain negotiations could close a total of seven Portland-area terminals, although the grain elevator owners plan to hire substitute workers -- or scabs, in union parlance. In addition, last summer's separate container terminal dispute is boiling over in the courtroom, as a federal judge ponders whether to find the union in contempt and stop it from allegedly coercing shipping lines.
Port of Portland managers won't say whether they would bring in workers to replace striking security guards and their fellow longshore union members at terminals 2, 4 and 6. But Port officials are about to contact shipping lines with vessels heading toward Portland and warn them of the problems.
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Editor's Note: This is what happens when an election is perceived to have provided a "mandate"...the selfishly ignorant believe it is "all about them," to hell with everyone else...
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