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June 26, 2014 12:00 PM, EDT
West Coast Port Talks to Extend Past June 30 Contract Expiration
TT File Photo

West Coast port negotiations will stretch beyond the scheduled June 30 contract expiration, a spokesman for management negotiators said.

“Negotiations are continuing, and will likely continue into mid-July,” Wade Gates, a spokesman for the Pacific Maritime Association told Transport Topics. The group represents ocean carriers and terminal operators, which are negotiating with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

“Negotiators met last week, yesterday and today,” Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for union, told TT on June 26. “Historically, it has taken a bit longer than the contract expiration to get the agreements done, but they do get done. This time will be no exception.”

Members of the union work at 27 ports that process about 40% of U.S. trade.

There was no announcement that there would be a formal extension of the talks. The current six-year contract was reached in 2008 after scattered disruptions. In 2002, the ports were shut for 10 days when a deal couldn’t be reached.

Separately, a report jointly sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation said that a five-day work stoppage would cost the U.S. economy $1.9 billion daily in lost activity, with escalating effects after that time.

“The ILWU and the PMA must remain at the negotiating table without engaging in disruptions because the economic consequence of an intractable and prolonged dispute are too severe to ignore,” the June 26 report said.