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Sides get closer in port contract negotiations but no deal yet

July 17, 2007|Ronald D. White | Times Staff Writer

After a long day of proposals and counterproposals, union clerks at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach had yet to reach a contract agreement with shipping lines and terminal operators Monday night. But no new deadline for a strike was set.

The 930-member office clerical unit, Local 63, of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union had vowed to strike just after midnight Sunday if no contract agreement had been reached with the 17 companies who employ them.

What followed instead was a sleepless night and day of intense negotiations.

The union received another counterproposal at 6 p.m. Monday but it was quickly clear that more compromise remained to be done.

Both sides were closer on wage and pension benefits, but not close enough, and there were other unresolved issues.

The union wants access to company computers to make sure their work has not been outsourced to nonunion employees. The companies want to leave vacant the jobs of departing temporary workers and those who quit or retire unless there is a true business need to replace them.

Stephen Berry, an attorney representing the companies, said the workers "are at least on the road to the ballpark now, but they are still asking for too much."

John Fageaux Jr., president of the local, which handles all of the paperwork for ships entering and leaving the nation's busiest cargo container complex, said: "What they gave us just now failed miserably."

ron.white@latimes.com

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