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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Kitzhaber Announces Deal To End Labor Dispute At Port Of Portland

Aaron Parecki
File photo of the Port of Potland

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber says he has brokered a deal that should ease a thorny labor dispute at the Port of Portland.

The Democrat announced Thursday that unions representing longshoremen and electrical workers have agreed on a way to divvy up the job of handling refrigerated shipping containers. The agreement comes after unrest at the port threatened to put a major dent in the Oregon economy.

There had been some work slowdowns and some shipping companies had been taking their business elsewhere -- or at least threatening to do so.

The governor stepped in, convened some talks between all of the parties and came up with a deal that lets the longshore workers take over the job of plugging and unplugging those refrigerated containers. The electrical workers are guaranteed that they won't lose their jobs, they'll just be reassigned. And the Port of Portland will also start an apprenticeship and training program for future electrical workers.

The labor dispute is blamed for backlogged deliveries of refrigerated containers over the last year.