Business, Economics and Jobs

Longshoremen strike averted for now in 11th-hour deal


The LA port sits idle during a similar strike Dec. 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA.


Robyn Beck

The International Longshoremen's Assn. and the US Maritime Alliance (USMX) of shippers, terminal operators and port authorities have reached an 11th-hour deal to avert a strike at 15 east coast container ports for now, Reuters reported.

The longshoremen’s union, which represents 14,500 workers in the eastern US, had said its members would walk off the job on Dec. 30 if an acceptable contract was not negotiated by then, according to Reuters.

More from GlobalPost: Longshoremen’s union, port operators to meet again before contract expires

Today, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service announced that the two parties had made progress on a key issue in their negotiations and the ILA had agreed to a 30-day contract extension while they worked out the rest of the agreement, Reuters reported.

“The container royalty payment issue has been agreed upon in principle by the parties, subject to achieving an overall collective bargaining agreement,” George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, said in a statement, according to the Boston Herald.

The cargo companies had been pushing to limit container royalty fees on shipments, which supplement dockworker wages, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Cohen refused to give details of the container royalty payment agreement since talks are ongoing, the Boston Herald reported.

“What I can report is that the agreement on this important subject represents a major positive step toward achieving an overall collective bargaining agreement,” he said, according to the Boston Herald. “While some significant issues remain in contention, I am cautiously optimistic that they can be resolved in the upcoming 30-day extension period.”

A widespread dockworkers’ strike would thwack the US economy, if previous strikes are anything to go on.

According to the Boston Herald:

A 10-day West Coast port lockout in 2002 cost the US economy $1 billion a day, and it took six-plus months for the supply chain to recover, according to economists’ estimates.