Mediators meet with grain handlers, union officials over Vancouver dispute

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The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service late Wednesday said it had met with representatives of Northwest grain handlers and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union on Tuesday and Wednesday in the latest attempt to resolve a long-running labor dispute.

A two-sentence statement said that negotiations had recessed and that “bargaining is expected to resume in the near future.”

The wisp of news follows an earlier statement released Monday by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association that they would halt negotiations for three days on a new contract covering all West Coast ports for 72 hours to work on “an unrelated negotiation taking place in the Pacific Northwest.” That delay is set to end today.

The PMA and ILWU are negotiating a new contract covering nearly 20,000 Longshore workers at 29 West Coast ports, including the Port of Vancouver.

Members of ILWU Local 4 have been locked out of the United Grain terminal in Vancouver since February 2013, and dockworkers also have been locked out of the Columbia Grain terminal in Portland since May 2013.