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Federal mediators have stepped in to try to jumpstart stalled contract negotiations between dockworkers and employers at U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports, a standoff that had threatened to snarl freight movement during the important autumn shipping season.
The International Longshoremen’s Association and the United States Maritime Alliance, which represents shipping companies and marine terminal operators, both confirmed Thursday that they have agreed to resume contract negotiations in conjunction with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
The mediated talks are set to take place during the week of Sept. 17, although no other details have been released.
Negotiations on a new deal to replace an existing pact that expires Sept. 30 broke down two weeks ago, with both sides accusing each other of intransigence. The contract covers about 15,000 dockworkers at ports from Maine to Texas.
ILA President Harold Daggett “is very appreciative that [federal mediators] offered their assistance and the negotiations are continuing,” ILA spokesman Jim McNamara said Thursday.
The maritime alliance confirmed it has agreed to participate in the mediation but had no other comment.
-By Bob Sechler. (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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