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A shipping strike on the East Coast has been averted just hours before a deadline, according to federal mediators

A shipping strike on the East Coast has been averted just hours before a deadline, according to federal mediators. 

A strike had been set to begin Saturday, when a contract would have expired between International Longshoremen's Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance, which represents shipping lines, terminal operators and port associations. The strike would have directly affected 15 ports from Texas to Massachusetts, and likely would have caused delays and cost increases across all North American ports. The contract had already been extended 90 days.

On Friday, federal mediator George H. Cohen announced that there had been progress in negotiations and that both sides had agreed to an additional extension of 30 days, until midnight, January 28, 2013.

Cohen said the agreement was "a major positive step toward achieving an overall collective bargaining agreement. While some significant issues remain in contention, I am cautiously optimistic that they can be resolved in the upcoming 30-day extension period.” 

The ports affected directly handle about 40 percent of all shipments in and out of the U.S. While most bicycles and bike accessories arrive in the U.S. via West Coast ports, carriers across the country have announced they would impose a "Congestion Surcharge" of as much as $1,000 per 40-foot container if there is a strike.


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