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Clerks at L.A., Long Beach ports finally ratify labor accord

Members of a small clerks union said Thursday they had agreed to a contract with employers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, taking the potential for fresh strikes at the busy harbors off the table.

Representatives for both sides released a joint statement that said they had agreed to ratify agreements reached Dec. 4. Previously, members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 Office Clerical Unit had voted down that contract, raising anew the specter of paralyzing strikes.

“The approved agreements, to be finalized in coming days, are good for workers, good for employers and -- most of all -- important in ensuring smooth operations at our Southern California ports,” the joint statement read. “Our local, regional and national economies depend on these ports, and the agreements ratified tonight pave the way for continued growth in the years ahead.”

Late last year strikes brought activity to a standstill at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for eight days. The union and the employers, in their statement, gave no indication as to why members of the union had initially turned down the contract, which had been cheered by both sides on Dec. 4 and appeared headed toward ratification.

The agreement was the result of talks between the clerks union and the Harbor Employers Assn., which represents shipping companies at the ports. The November strike ended shortly before federal mediators were set to intervene. The strike shut down 10 of 14 cargo container terminals at the nation’s largest port complex.

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