Sides will meet to avert ‘container cliff’

Negotiators will return to the table one more time to try and avert a “container cliff”: a looming port strike that could shut down shipping on the East Coast.

The longshoreman’s union and port management have until Saturday to reach a deal on a new contract. If not, the longshoreman will walk off the job December 29.

They’ll be off the job in the Port of New York/New Jersey and the Delaware River port in Philadelphia.

They’re negotiating with the US Maritime Alliance (USMX) with help from a federal mediator. The sticking point is the level of royalty fees – payments made to the union for each container handled to compensate longshoremen for jobs lost due to mechanization.

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If the port strikes happen, they would be the biggest on the East Coast since 1977.

Last week, the National Retail Federation asked President Obama to intervene to prevent the walk-out. They argued that it would have “serious economy-wide impacts.”

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