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PORTLAND, Ore. -- Longshoremen at a half-dozen Pacific Northwest grain terminals have overwhelmingly rejected what owners describe as their last, best and final contract offer.

Terminal owners had no immediate response to the vote Monday, but a lockout could come at any time. The owners have replacement workers standing by to ensure grain exports to Asia.

Rich Austin, co-chairman of the union negotiating committee, said in a statement that the ILWU wants the owners to return to the bargaining table.

More than a quarter of all U.S. grain exports and nearly half of U.S. wheat exports move through grain terminals on the Willamette River and Puget Sound. The dispute involves six of those terminals that operate under a single collective bargaining agreement with the ILWU.

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