Excerpts from the Oregonian:
With a contract expiring in five days, managers of Northwest grain terminals are preparing for a showdown with longshoremen that could far eclipse this summer’s turmoil at the Port of Portland.
Half of the nation’s wheat exports flow through Portland and Puget Sound ports. To keep shipments moving, managers of four Portland-area terminals and two near Seattle are hiring security forces and making arrangements with nonunion labor in anticipation of locking out striking longshoremen, according to the Columbia River Steamship Operators Association and other sources.
“I’d anticipate nothing will move with union workers,” if negotiators fail to agree, said Jim Townley, the association’s executive director.
If the separate grain talks fail to produce a contract, river pilots plan to continue steering massive vessels in and out of port as long as their own safety, and that of the public, isn’t threatened. Coast Guard officials plan to ensure river safety and to keep commerce flowing.