VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) – A Pacific Northwest grain terminal that locked out its union workers last week has sued a union official it accuses of damaging company equipment. The union representing the longshore workers quickly condemned the lawsuit.
In a filing Feb. 28 in Clark County Superior Court, United Grain Corp. accused Todd Walker of Vancouver of causing more than $300,000 in damage.
The lawsuit contends that last Dec. 22, Walker tried to halt production by throwing a pipe into a conveyer and damaged a gear box by pouring sand into it, The Columbian reported (
Walker served on the union’s contract bargaining team and as an elected member of the local union’s labor relations committee, the lawsuit said.
International Longshore & Warehouse Union spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent said in a statement that the company is “publicizing unproven accusations against a single worker in order to cover for its own illegal lockout of an entire workforce.” The union is confident the accusations will prove groundless, she said.
Walker was not immediately reachable for comment. Sargent said Monday night he was not available for interviews.
An independent police investigation of the accusations continues, Vancouver police spokeswoman Kim Kapp said. No arrests have been made.
United Grain, part of the Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co., locked out its union workers at the Port of Vancouver on Feb. 27 after saying it had evidence that a union worker had committed acts of sabotage.
Union members have picketed since then as company managers and replacement workers operate the export terminal.
The alleged sabotage took place shortly before contract talks between the longshore union and three grain-shipping corporations were declared at an impasse and the firms implemented the terms of their final offer. The previous contract expired Sept. 30.
More than a quarter of all U.S. grain exports move through nine grain terminals on the Willamette River and Puget Sound. The contract dispute initially involved six terminals that operate under a single collective bargaining agreement with the ILWU: United Grain, based in Vancouver; Columbia Grain, based in Portland; Louis Dreyfus Commodities, which has grain elevators in Portland and Seattle; and Temco, which has elevators in Portland and Tacoma, Wash.
Columbia Grain and LD Commodities said they have no plans to join the lockout.
The U.S.-owned Temco broke from the alliance in early December and negotiated separately with the union. A five-year agreement was announced recently.
The ILWU has asked United Grain, Columbia Grain and LD Commodities to restart contract talks, saying the Temco deal “signifies the union’s commitment to reaching a deal that maintains American industry standards and working conditions while addressing the concerns that elevator operators bring to the table.”
Pat McCormick, a spokesman for the grain handlers, said Monday the group hasn’t seen the Temco contact but wants to review it before deciding whether to restart negotiations.
The sticking points have been workplace rules and management rights _ not money.
Information from: The Columbian,
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food