Union workers at the Port of Seattle’s export grain terminal in North Harbour, USA, have reached an agreement with Louis Dreyfus Co (LDC) following three years of negotiations, World Grain reported on 26 October.

The workers from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 19 voted 93% in favour of a new collective bargaining agreement with the Netherlands-based company, according to the report.

Negotiations for the new agreement began in the spring of 2018, with the previous agreement expiring on 31 May 2018, the report said.

The ILWU said the new agreement included significant improvements, according to the report, including the achievement of wage parity with the US-owned grain exporter TEMCO, which had previously paid a higher rate than Dutch-headquartered LDC.

TEMCO, a joint venture of Cargill and CHS, employs ILWU grain handlers at its US facilities in the ports of Tacoma and Kalama, Washington and Portland, Oregon, World Grain wrote.

“This new grain agreement between the ILWU grain handlers on the docks and the European employer brings both parties into the future,” ILWU coast committee representative Cam Williams said.

“It includes advanced training programs, workforce stability, and operational improvements that will improve working conditions and productivity for the benefit of America’s farmers and workers.”

ILWU said the agreement with LDC would also pave the way for negotiations with other foreign-based grain exporters, the report said.

Other foreign-based corporations hiring ILWU workers in the Pacific Northwest grain terminals include United Grain Corp (UGC) owned by Mitsui of Japan, Columbia Export Terminal (CET) owned by Marubeni of Japan, and EGT owned by Korea-based Pan Ocean/Harim and US-based Bunge, according to the report.

The ILWU said the LDC agreement would serve as a benchmark for its negotiations with EGT next year, World Grain wrote.