5 things to know about longshoremen negotiations

Updated at: 12/28/2012 2:07 PM
By The Associated Press

The International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance agreed Friday to a contract extension until early February, averting a potential strike Sunday by more than 14,000 dockworkers that could have brought commerce at major ports along the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico to a near-standstill. Five things to know about the talks:

1. PORTS INVOLVED

Boston; New York-New Jersey; Philadelphia area; Baltimore; Hampton Roads, Va.; Wilmington, N.C.; Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Miami area; Tampa, Fla.; Mobile, Ala.; New Orleans; and Houston.

2. THE DEADLINE

The contract expires Feb. 6 now that the two sides agreed to a second contract extension and factored in winter holidays. Federal mediators are involved, and the White House has urged dockworkers and shipping companies to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.

3. KEY ISSUE

A key sticking point until Friday was a Maritime Alliance proposal to freeze royalties workers get for every container they unload, which the union opposed. Federal mediators say this issue has been resolved but did not provide details.

4. GOODS THAT WOULD BE AFFECTED

A wide range of items transported in containers on ships, including things like flat-screen TVs, sneakers and snow shovels.

5. GOODS THAT AREN’T AFFECTED

Items including military cargo, mail, automobiles and perishables such as food.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)