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Good news for West Coast ports and U.S. railroads' intermodal business: The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) are posting progress in negotiating a new contract for longshoremen.Yesterday, the parties announced they reached a tentative agreement on terms for health benefits, subject to an agreement on the other issues addressed in the negotiations. ILWU and PMA officials agreed not to discuss the terms of the tentative agreement while bargaining talks continue.Maintenance of health benefits is an important part of the contract under negotiations, which will cover about 20,000 longshore workers at 29 West Coast ports, according to the ILWU and PMA. The workers' previous agreement expired July 1. Contract talks began May 12.Retailers, shippers and railroads are concerned that a breakdown in negotiations could result in a work stoppage at West Coast ports and a backlog in cargo movements.
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