Contract extended for 30 days, strike at ports averted for now


Associated Press

Posted on December 28, 2012 at 1:00 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal mediator says he's "cautiously optimistic" that the operators of East Coast and Gulf Coast ports can work out the remaining issues with longshoremen in the next 30 days.

That's how long the current contract is being extended -- giving the port operators and shipping lines another chance to work out a deal with the dock workers and avoid a strike.

The walkout had been threatened for this Sunday. It would shut down operations at ports that handle about 40 percent of all U.S. container cargo.

Negotiations will continue until at least midnight on January 28.

The contract originally expired in September. The two sides agreed then to extend it for 90 days, but it had been set to expire again early Sunday.

Business groups are expressing relief. The head of the National Retail Federation says a shutdown would have a "severe" impact on the local, national and world economies.

Ports that would have been frozen include the massive terminals serving New York City, Houston and Savannah, Ga.

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152-v-29-(Julie Walker, AP correspondent)--A New Year's Eve strike by more than 14,000 longshoremen that had threatened to shut down ports and stop shipments is averted, for now. AP correspondent Julie Walker reports. (28 Dec 2012)

<<CUT *152 (12/28/12)>> 00:29

151-w-34-(Julie Walker, AP correspondent, with Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy, National Retail Federation)--A deal has been struck that, for now, averts a strike by more than 14,000 longshoremen at major ports on the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. AP correspondent Julie Walker reports. (28 Dec 2012)

<<CUT *151 (12/28/12)>> 00:34

APPHOTO NYR101: FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2012 file photo, a truck driver watches as a freight container, right, is lowered onto a tractor trailer by a container crane at the Port of Boston in Boston. The crane and a reach stacker, left, are operated by longshoremen at the port. The longshoremen's union may strike if they are unable to reach an agreement on their contract, which expires Dec. 29, 2012. A walkout by dock workers represented by the International Longshoremen's Association would bring commerce to a near halt at ports from Boston to Houston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) (27 Dec 2012)

<<APPHOTO NYR101 (12/27/12)>>