Dockworkers’ strike could shut 14 East Coast ports

    The union representing dockworkers at 14 ports on the East Coast has voted to authorize a strike if there’s no agreement on a new contract by the end of September.

    As merchants throughout the region are hoping a walkout can be averted, no new talks have been scheduled.

    Ports in Philadelphia, Wilmington and Elizabeth are among those that would be affected if there is a strike.

    “It couldn’t come at a worse time,” says John Holub, presidents of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association. “After Labor Day, retailers become a lot more focused on the holiday season, which is the most important time of the year for retailers.

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    “So to have a disruption in getting your product to the store as we are now preparing to get into the holiday season could have a disastrous effect,” he said.

    Merchants, who are trying to shift cargo to the West Coast and ports in Canada, also are considering shipping goods by air.

    Rutgers University economist James Hughes says about 10 percent of the jobs in New Jersey are linked to logistics, transportation and warehousing, and a lengthy longshoremen’s strike could hurt the regional economy.

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