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A possible strike by 14,500 longshoremen at 14 major East Coast ports has been averted, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FCMS) announced today.The main issue of contention between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance was container royalties, payments made to workers based on how much cargo they handle.
In a statement today, George H. Cohen, director of the FCMS, announced the strike, set to begin on December 30, would not go forward:
The container royalty payment issue has been agreed upon in principle by the parties, subject to achieving an overall collective bargaining agreement. The parties have further agreed to an additional extension of 30 days (i.e., until midnight, January 28, 2013) during which time the parties shall negotiate all remaining outstanding Master Agreement issues, including those relating to New York and New Jersey. The negotiation schedule shall be set by the FMCS after consultation with the parties.
The strike could have shut down manufacturer supply chains and could have cost the country billions of dollars a day.
Cohen’s statement also explained the FCMS would not yet reveal details on the agreement:
Given that negotiations will be continuing and consistent with the Agency’s commitment of confidentiality to the parties, FMCS shall not disclose the substance of the container royalty payment agreement. What I can report is that the agreement on this important subject represents a major positive step toward achieving an overall collective bargaining agreement. While some significant issues remain in contention, I am cautiously optimistic that they can be resolved in the upcoming 30-day extension period.