The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service said Thursday it has stepped into contract talks between several locals of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers.
The talks between ILWU Locals 4, 8, 19 & 23 and their employers have been contentious, culminating in a protest in September 2011 where union members blocked a train from arriving at the EGT Terminal in Longview, Wash., due to the terminal’s reported failure to recognize ILWU jurisdiction over it for jobs.
The terminal eventually settled the dispute and signed a contract with the ILWU, but ILWU President Robert McEllrath
was fined $500 and sentenced to serve one day in jail and given an 89-day suspended sentence after a three-day trial in Longview in early October.
That same week, the grain handlers extended contract talks with the union, with a contract due to expire in mid-October.
"Upon the request of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the parties have agreed to resume negotiations under our auspices on October 29, 2012,” FMCS Director George H. Cohen said in a statement.
“Due to the sensitivity of this high profile dispute and consistent with the agency's longstanding practice, we will not disclose either the location of the meeting or the content of the substantive negotiations that will take place. In addition, the parties have agreed to an FMCS request that they refrain from any public comments regarding the status of negotiations conducted under our auspices," Cohen said.