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Port Strike Ends as Union, Employers Reach Deal

The trucks will roll and the nation's busiest seaport will return to full steam Wednesday as striking ILWU dockworkers reach new contract terms that still need members' ratifying vote.

A tentative agreement was reached late Tuesday night to end the eight-day strike by union members, clearing the way for ships to be served at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced.

"I think it's appropriate to say, mission accomplished," L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa told reporters at a press conference outside the Wilmington community center where contract negotiations have been undertaken daily since the strike began Nov. 27.

International Longshore Workers Union Vice President Ray Familathe stood outside the community center with the mayor and other union members, who cheered at the announcement the strike was over.

"I'm really pleased to tell all of you that my 10,000 longshoremen in the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach will be back to work," Familathe said. "Without (Villaraigosa's) assistance, I think we would've had some challenges." 

A committee of negotiators for 800 striking clerical workers recommended Tuesday night that the contract terms be presented to the full membership for a vote. Meantime, workers will return to their jobs.

Ratification of the deal is expected. Details of the agreement were not immediately available, but both sides said there will be no outsourcing of work under the proposed contract.

Outsourcing of clerical work and preserving good-paying jobs here in Southern California were cornerstones of the ILWU's hold-out on a contract deal.

The negotiator for owners of some of the largest shipping companies in the world expressed relief that two of the nation's busiest seaports — handling 40 percent of the country's cargo — would be back in full gear at 7 a.m. Wednesday.

"Both sides had principles that were very important to them," said Stephen Berry, chief negotiator for the shipping interests, the Harbor Employers Association. Of Villaraigosa's role in the strike ending, Berry said: "He was persistent. He was patient, and at times, put on a lot of pressure ..." to end the strike.

While specifics in the late-night agreement were not discussed at the press conference, Berry said owners compromised and "there will be no outsourcing under this contract."

"The employers recognized the critical importance of this port to the nation," he said.

A federal mediator was sought by the two sides to help move past an impasse in the talks reached Tuesday morning, but the two sides had resumed talking and the mediator was not involved in the deal.

Days of idle commerce at one of the world's largest shipping basins had alarmed local and national trade and political leaders, all of whom feared the strike might harm the rebounding economy at a fragile time — and in the midst of the holiday season.

Read here for more background on the strike's progression.

Diane Young December 05, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Mr. Mayor taking credit is a joke!!!! Signed ILWU worker
Joe December 05, 2012 at 07:30 PM
he is such a fake

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