Grain shippers declare impasse in talks with NW dockworkers

SEATTLE, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Grain shippers declared a formal

impasse in stalled contract talks with nearly 3,000 union

dockworkers at four U.S. Pacific Northwest ports on Wednesday

and moved to unilaterally impose terms of a "final" offer union

members soundly rejected days ago.

The Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers, which represents the

shipping companies and grain terminals they own, stressed the

move was not a "lockout" of workers, which had been widely

expected after management's latest contract proposal failed to

win approval. They also left open the door to further talks.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union said its

members would remain on the job, despite "the substandard

provisions of the employers' last offer," averting for now the

prospect of immediate labor unrest on the Northwest waterfront.

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