Tentative Deal to End Port Strike Reached

A tentative agreement was reached tonight to end the crippling eight-day strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The union leadership "has voted to approve a contract they'll take to their members," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.

The agreement, which is expected to be ratified Wednesday by the 800-member International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 Office Clerical Unit, wins new protections that will help prevent jobs from being outsourced, according to the union.

Longshoremen who had been honoring the strike will return to work Wednesday morning, the Harbor Employers Association announced.

John Fageaux, president of ILWU Local 63-OCU, called the strike "a community effort that will benefit working families for many years to come."

Stephen L. Berry, chief negotiator for the Harbor Employers Association, said "tonight is the end of a very long journey... Both sides had principles that are very important to them," Berry said. "The employers have struggled since the global economic crisis in 2008. Cargo volumes have dropped and they've not returned to those levels."

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Representatives from both sides told The Daily Breeze the presence of George H. Cohen, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, signaled a new stage in the negotiations. Cohen arrived around 9 p.m., the paper reported.

The union, which had been working without a contract since June 30, 2010, began the strike on November 27.

With some 10,000 ILWU members honoring the strikers' picket lines, the action shut down 10 of the 14 cargo container terminals at the complex.

The strike was the largest work stoppage at the ports since shipping companies locked workers out for 10 days in 2002.

The two sides were deadlocked over the issue of whether the employers can outsource work functions of the clerical workers after positions become open or whether the shipping companies have to hire more clerical workers to replace union members who retire or leave for other jobs.

Berry praised Villaraigosa for working "tirelessly to build this port up" and for his role in helping end the strike.

"He was here after traveling from Bogata, Colombia last night," Berry said. "He worked all night with us. He was persistent. He was patient and at times put on a lot of pressure."

Updated story.


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