Dockworkers, shippers
back at bargaining table

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO >> Contract negotiations between West Coast dockworkers and shipping lines resumed yesterday after a two-week hiatus filled with increasingly snappish rhetoric from both sides.

Since talks broke off in late July, the union representing 10,500 longshoremen has charged employers with courting federal intervention. Shipping lines have called for a mediator to break a stalemate that could endanger the distribution of billions of dollars worth of goods which move through Pacific ports each year.

The longshoremen's contract expired July 1, but both sides agreed to rolling 24-hour extensions.

Yesterday, negotiators for the Pacific Maritime Association restarted their talks at the International Longshore and Warehouse Union's headquarters.

But after about three hours of "frank discussions," the talks ended prematurely when union president James Spinosa left to tend to his gravely ill father in Southern California, union spokesman Steve Stallone said. It was not immediately clear when talks would resume, he said.

Both Stallone and the shipping line were tight-lipped about the substance of the day's talks.

A new contract also is being negotiated for about 480 dockworkers in Hawaii.

Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 142 and the Hawaii Employers Council, which represents the stevedoring industry in Hawaii, have agreed to extend their contract while a new agreement is being worked out. Hawaii dockworkers traditionally have followed the lead of their West Coast counterparts on contract issues.

A strike by dockworkers could cripple Hawaii's economy, which relies on ocean shipping for about 90 percent of goods.

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