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Shipping talks continue into overtime


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POSTED: Friday, June 26, 2009

Talks to avert a shipping strike that could curtail the flow of goods to Hawaii were expected to go past a midnight deadline last night, union attorney Charles Khim said.

;[Preview]    Matson Talks
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Matson is negotiating with three unions for new working contracts.

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“;Absent something drastic happening,”; the talks were expected to resume today in Los Angeles between three unions and Matson Navigation Co., Khim said. Matson carries the majority of container goods between Hawaii and the West Coast.

But Khim said if talks break down, a strike or a management lockout could happen at any time.

The contract between the Masters, Mates & Pilots, the American Radio Association and the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association was set to expire on June 15 but was extended until yesterday.

Negotiations in Los Angeles resumed at 7 a.m. yesterday and continued into the night.

The unions represent captains, marine engine and deck officers and others who work on the container ships. There are about 1,000 to 1,500 union members who could be affected. This is the first time these unions have threatened a strike.

The last shipping labor disruption was in 2002, when a dispute between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union led to a 10-day lockout and shutdown of West Coast ports.

The lockout and the threat of a possible Hawaii dockworkers strike led to shortages of toilet paper, milk and other goods here.

So far, stores reported that customers were not stocking up on toilet paper and rice, as has happened in the past when the threat of a shipping strike loomed.

Three ships—the MV Maunalalei, MV Maui and MV Manoa—were traveling between the mainland and Hawaii today, according to the schedule posted on Matson's Web site.

Those vessels would continue to port if a strike is called, but it is not clear if the ILWU would unload the vessels.