The dock workers’ union reached a tentative agreement with shippers and port operators to avert a strike at East Coast and Gulf Coast ports on Dec. 28. The union and the shipping companies have extended a strike deadline 30 days while they hash out issues on a new collective bargaining agreement.
A strike by 14,500 dock workers would have shut down most activity at ports from Houston to Boston, which would have negatively affected export of agricultural products—one of the nation’s bright spots for the economy. The main negotiations and verbal battles have not been around bulk commodity shipping but containerized shipping.
The International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance have been at loggerheads about the issue of “container royalties” — a fee paid by shipping companies that is used to augment worker wages and benefits. Mediators in the talks report that this issue apparently has been resolved and talks have resulted in a positive breakthrough for a new union contract to possibly be finalized during the next month.