| LOS ANGELES, June 30
LOS ANGELES, June 30 With less than 24 hours to
go before a contract expires for 25,000 dockworkers up and down
the West Coast, representatives for the union and for shipping
lines said on Monday they believed the talks would continue
past the deadline.
Spokesmen for both the shipping lines and the International
Longshore and Warehouse Union also said they did not expect a
showdown like the one that culminated in a 10-day lockout in
The spokesmen for the union and Pacific Maritime
Association, which negotiates for the cargo carriers,
stevedores and terminal operators, used similar language in
characterizing the bargaining sessions as the clock wound down
on the current, 6-year contract.
"I think folks are working hard and they are aware of the
contract expiration Tuesday at 5 p.m.," union spokesman Craig
Merrilees said. "They are going to do their best but it may
require more time."
"At this point, assuming the talks remain productive, those
talks will probably continue (past the deadline)," Merrilees
said. "But hopefully there will be an added sense of urgency
and seriousness about addressing some of the issues (still on
Pacific Maritime Association spokesman Steve Getzug said
that everyone was "mindful that we've got a deadline looming
and we're working as hard and as quick as we can to try to get
an agreement in place."
Though neither side would discuss the negotiations in
detail, Getzug said that a tentative agreement had already been
reached on health care issues, which are typically a major
Getzug said employers were keen to make sure that
technology at the 29 West Coast ports remained up-to-date and
competitive, where Merrilees stressed that dockworkers were
concerned about safety issues.
"Seventeen people have been killed while the (current)
contact has been in effect the last 6 years," Merrilees said.
"So its become a very dangerous job and its more dangerous than
it needs to be."
Contract talks broke down in 2002 largely over health care
and technology issues, triggering the 10-day lockout that
soaked the U.S. for an estimated $15 billion in economic
(Editing by Carol Bishopric)