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Longshoremen's association, maritime alliance reach tentative master agreement

The International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) and U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX) late Friday announced they reached a tentative agreement on a comprehensive master agreement, ending the threat of a potential strike at East and Gulf Coast ports. The pact is subject to ratification by members of both parties and the negotiation of agreements by a number of local unions.

"Those local negotiations are ongoing and will continue without interruption to any port operation," said Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George Cohen in a prepared statement, adding that, consistent with the agency's long-standing confidentiality policy, he couldn't disclose any details concerning agreement provisions.

On Dec. 28, the ILA and USMX agreed to extend their existing contract — which was set to expire on Dec. 29 — until Feb. 6 so they could continue to negotiate a master agreement and prevent a widespread port strike.

National Retail Federation (NRF) officials hailed the negotiation of a tentative master agreement and urged the parties to quickly complete any outstanding negotiations — including local negotiations at 14 ports — and hasten ratification.

"If the tentative agreement holds, the new labor contract will bring much-needed certainty and predictability to the supply chain for retailers, manufacturers, farmers and other industries that rely on the ports to move the nation's commerce and trade," said NRF President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay in a prepared statement. "The new port labor contract, which covers container operations at each of the 14 East and Gulf Coast ports, from Maine to Texas, will help make these major ports more competitive and efficient."

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