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Virginia port preps for potential longshoremen's strike

On Friday, the Virginia Port Authority (VPA) announced it’s working with port operator Virginia International Terminals (VIT) to begin the process of preparing state-owned cargo terminals in Hampton Roads Harbor for a potential strike by the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA).

In early August, contract negotiations broke down between the ILA and United States Maritime Alliance. As a result, the Port of Virginia has started preparing for a work stoppage that could begin Oct. 1, VPA officials said in a prepared statement.

VPA and VIT officials have been holding regular conference calls with cargo owners to craft a strategy for moving as much cargo as possible between now and Oct. 1. The calls will continue on a weekly basis, VPA officials said.

“Our goal will be to do everything we can to ensure that all cargo is delivered prior to Oct. 1," said VIT President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Dorto. “We believe our customers will immediately make plans to shift a portion of their cargo to West Coast ports — from 10 to 15 percent.”

This week, VPA and VIT officials plan to hold a meeting with key port stakeholders — including labor, ocean carriers, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and motor carriers — to seek input and discuss what will happen in the event of a work stoppage. They also will work with railroads to schedule trains and hours of operation, VPA officials said.

The port is served by CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern Railway, the Bay Coast Railroad Inc. and Norfolk & Portsmouth Belt Line Railroad Co.

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