More than 1,200 longshore workers and their union allies rallied June 3 outside the downtown Portland corporate office of grain company EGT Development. Protesters traveled from as far away as Los Angeles to support Longview-based ILWU Local 21 in its quest for a union contract at a new grain terminal set to open this summer at the Port of Longview.
EGT is a joint venture of St. Louis-based Bunge North America, Japan-based Itochu Corp. and Korean shipper STX Pan Ocean. The company leased property from the Port to build a $200 million state-of-the-art grain elevator on the Columbia River.
EGT imported nonunion construction workers from out-of-state to do most of the work. It now wants to operate the facility with nonunion, out-of-state labor.
Members of ILWU are employed at port grain export terminals coastwise under the Northwest Grainhandlers Agreement, which is set to expire later this year. The union believes if EGT is operating without a contract it will reverberate in upcoming negotiations.
“EGT would like to be the Walmart of the grain business and force everyone else into their agenda,” said Scott Mason, president of Tacoma-based ILWU Local 23.