Negotiators for the big agribusiness ventures that own the terminals have taken pains to prove the talks have reached impasse, meaning they could lock out longshoremen and invite them back only on terms of their employer-friendly final offer. Union leaders are prepared to file unfair labor practice charges that could force the employers to pay back wages after a lockout if the impasse claim is disproved.
Along those lines Monday, the union suggested more bargaining dates. “We encourage the multinational owners of these elevators to return to the negotiating table, instead of risking the U.S. grain export market as a means to break the union,” Rich Austin, co-chairman of the longshoremen’s negotiating committee, said in a news release.
Union leaders accuse the members of the employer’s group of bargaining in bad faith.
“The grain exporters have not bargained in good faith, instead rejecting every effort by the union to reach a compromised settlement,” said Leal Sundet, a longshore coast committeemen. “In essence, their ‘last and final’ offer was not fundamentally different than that originally presented in September.”