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West Coast dockworkers to continue negotiating through the holiday

New York — Home textiles suppliers and retailers that are anxiously monitoring the situation between West Coast dockworkers and the shipping companies have neither cause to celebrate nor cause to weep just yet as talks continue between the two entities.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have met several times over the last several weeks to negotiate, but no agreement has been reached yet over the extremely sensitive issues of the job security and benefits.

The two continue to conduct face-to-face meetings, but the closest they have come to agreeing has been to temporarily extend the existing contract, which originally expired on July 1, by 24 hours. Robin Lanier, executive director of the Washington-based West Coast Waterfront Coalition, a watchdog group, said that as long both parties continue to meet and extend the contract on a day-by-day basis, the possibility of a work slowdown, strike or lockout is remote.

"They're talking and that's good," Lanier said, noting both organizations met again yesterday and are scheduled to meet throughout the long holiday weekend. "I think the pressure from public officials, the press and everyone else, has really made both sides buck up and say, 'We really have to sit down and work this out.'"

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