Port strike tentative deal union

Massive Port Strike Likely Averted for Now

Massive Port Strike Likely Averted for Now

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Dec. 28 2012 3:34 PM

Massive Port Strike Likely Averted for Now

A strike could have paralyzed container cargo at ports from Boston to Houston

Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

The union representing dockworkers reached a tentative deal with shippers and port operators on Friday to extend a labor contract for 30 days, averting a possible strike by 14,500 workers that could have paralyzed operations at 14 East and Gulf Coast ports as early as Sunday. Negotiations will now continue at least until Jan. 28, reports the Associated Press. It now appears that workers and the U.S. Martime Aliance have reached a deal in principle on the contentious issue of “royalties” for each container they unload.

A strike would not have just cost billions to the economy but also could have put President Obama in a sticky situation as business groups had called on him to break up any eventual work stoppage. But it was far from clear whether Obama would have been willing to cross one of his most important bases of support, points out the Hill. The tentative deal came too late for some retailers that had already spent money on coming up with alternative arrangements to deal with a potential strike, reports the Wall Street Journal. Still, businesses expressed cautious optimism that the “container cliff” won’t come to pass, writes the Washington Post.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.