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Contract talks continue between longshoremen, port operators

With a little more than two weeks to go before a contract extension between East Coast and Gulf dockworkers and port operators expires, the federal mediator said Thursday that progress is being made toward a long-term settlement.

George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, said the

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International Longshoremen's Association

representing 14,500 union members and

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United States Maritime Alliance
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, which represents 14 ports and shipping companies, met between Tuesday and Thursday, and have agreed "that the negotiations will continue under our auspices."

A crippling coast wide port strike — the first in 35 years — was averted on Dec. 29, when both sides settled a major sticking point involving wages and agreed to an extension that expires on Feb. 6. About 1,200 longshoremen work at the

Port of Baltimore

.

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