The longshore union appeared to cave in Wednesday, agreeing members would begin working at Northwest grain terminals Thursday on terms they just resoundingly rejected.
But labor lawyers say the International Longshore and Warehouse Union is actually playing it smart. If longshoremen called a strike now, refusing to accede to terms they abhor, the employers could permanently replace workers or even call a vote to eject the union.
“Tactically they’re better off staying on the job and then challenging this before the National Labor Relations Board,” said Michael LeRoy, a University of Illinois labor law professor. “They would play into the employers’ hands if they went out on strike.”