MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – A federal mediator announced Friday that negotiations between the International Longshoreman’s Association and U.S. Maritime Alliance have succeeded in extending the current contract for 30 days.

The move comes one day before the contract between the two groups was set to expire. An expiration of a deal could impact ports including Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa, Manatee County, Palm Beach, and Port Canaveral.

Governor Rick Scott said Thursday cargo-related activity at Florida seaports is responsible for 550,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state and contributes roughly $66 billion in value to the economy.

In Miami, the port known as the “Cargo Gateway of the Americas” brings in $18 billion annually.

“A disruption of cargo flow in and out of our ports would have a negative effect on the national economy and reverse any gains we have made in job growth this year,” PortMiami Director Bill Johnson said on the conference call. “PortMiami, along with all Florida Ports, is working with Governor Scott’s office in asking that labor talks continue.”

The International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance are trying to reach a deal that would affect more than 14-thousand workers at 15 ports along the East and Gulf Coasts. Many of them work at PortMiami. ILA Local #1416 is based out of Miami.

Perishable commodities, military cargo, containerized mail, and passenger ships won’t be impacted according to guidelines set by union brass in a memo posted on the ILA’s website.

Governor Rick Scott had asked President Obama to invoke the Taft-Hartley Act in the event dockworkers walk off the job. The federal law orders mediation and a cooling off period.

The Taft-Hartley Act allows the president to intervene in a labor dispute if he believes national health or safety could be endangered. It allows the government to seek an 80-day injunction against any strike that could endanger national health or safety.

Thursday, the White House urged both sides to reach agreement “as quickly as possible” on a new contract. The White House said it’s monitoring the situation closely and asked both parties to continue their negotiations.

Large retailers have been stockpiling inventory, the Wall Street Journal reported this week, fearful of goods getting stuck on docks next week.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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