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Port contract extended 90 days

Published September 23, 2012
Both sides agree to kick the problem down the road past the election and holidays

WASHINGTON, DC (BRAIN) — Labor and East Coast shipping industry negotiators have agreed to a 90-day contract extension, averting a potential shipping season strike that would have disrupted holiday season deliveries nationwide on the eve of the presidential election.

A contract between the Longshoreman's union and the Maritime Alliance was set to expire at the end of this month. If the sides had not agreed to extend the contract, a strike could have added cost and time to imports and cross-country shipments of many products, including bicycles and gasoline. Some observors had thought a strike was unlikely because it could have harmed President Obama's reelection chances. The Longshoreman's union is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, which has endorsed Obama.

Both sides agreed last week to kick the problem down the road to Dec. 29, well after the election and the holidays. 

The decision to extend the contract was done "for the good of the country," said George H. Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which had been mediating the talks. 

Bike industry suppliers had said an October strike could have delayed deliveries of products to the East Coast during the holiday season and added costs and delays to all deliveries, because shippers were set to slap a $1,000-per-container fee at all North American ports during a strike.

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