Longshore workers say they don't want to strike

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Longshore workers said Monday they don’t want to strike at grain terminals in the Northwest and they want to continue contract talks with terminal owners beyond a Wednesday deadline.

International Longshore and Warehouse Union spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent said the union has proposed additional dates for talks to the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association, which represents the owners of six grain terminals along the Columbia River and in Puget Sound that ship wheat, corn and soybeans to Asia.

The contract ran out in September. Terminal owners made what they called a last best offer Nov. 16 and set a Wednesday deadline, at which point they reserved the right to implement it.

The region’s nine grain terminals handle wheat, soybeans and corn from the Northwest and the Dakotas that is headed primarily for Asia. The shipments amount to about a quarter of U.S. grain exports. The contract talks affect six of those terminals. Three are in Portland, and three in Washington, at Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver.

Any interruption in handling cargo would disrupt Asian markets for U.S. grain and overwhelm storage facilities in the U.S., the association said in a statement.

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