Union pickets call on Port of Kalama to ‘Hire Local Labor’

Union members from Longview, Wash., to Portland rallied at the Port of Kalama June 29, calling for the hiring of local workers on an upcoming $100 million expansion of the Temco grain terminal.

Temco is a joint venture owned by Minnesota-based cooperative CHS Inc. and Cargill. Design-build contracts from two general contractors are currently being reviewed, and could be awarded in mid-July, said Mike Bridges, treasurer of the Longview-Kelso Building and Construction Trades Council, which organized the rally.

One of the general contractors in the running is T.E. Ibberson of Minnesota. Ibberson was the contractor on the 2010 EGT grain terminal in Longview, which unions picketed because out-of-state and foreign workers were brought in and paid wages and benefits below area standards. Unions dealt with similar issues on grain terminal expansion projects at the Port of Vancouver and Kalama Export.

In each instance, general contractors asserted that grain silo erection was “specialized work” and that there wasn’t enough skilled labor in the area to do it. Union officials say that’s nonsense. Case in point, the second general contractor in the running for the Temco job in Kalama is Borton LC of Kansas. Borton plans to use JH Kelly to perform 85 percent of the work, including concrete, structural steel, electrical, piping, and millwright work. JH Kelly is signatory with several trades unions in Washington and Oregon.

It is estimated that 100 union jobs will be created in Southwest Washington for more than a year and a half if Borton is awarded the contract. “That’s all money that will be spent locally,” Bridges said.

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