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August 27, 2014 8:50 AM, EDT
West Coast Port Negotiators Advance with Health-Care Deal
Tim Rue/Bloomberg News

West Coast port labor talks have taken a step toward resolution with a tentative agreement on health care benefits that the parties called “an important part” of an overall contract.

The announcement by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, negotiating for ocean carriers and terminal operators, did not discuss details since negotiations are continuing. Union workers who handle just over half of international ocean cargo have stayed on the job since their contract expired June 30.

The union, which represents nearly 20,000 workers, offers coverage to members that could subject them to additional taxes in coming years for so-called “Cadillac” health plans under the terms of the Affordable Care Act.

“Maintenance of health benefits is an important part of the contract being negotiated,” the statement said, noting that the health-care deal was subject to an agreement on other unspecified contract issues.

Talks began May 12 and have continued since then with the exception of two breaks for the union to deal with a separate grain handling contract in the Pacific Northwest.