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Employers: LA port workers to return Wednesday

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 5, 2012 at 1:49 am •  Published: December 5, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Negotiators reached an agreement late Tuesday to end an eight-day strike that crippled the nation's largest port complex and prevented shippers from delivering billions of dollars in cargo to warehouses and distribution centers across the country.

"I'm really pleased to tell all of you that my 10,000 longshore workers in the ports of LA and Long Beach are going to start moving cargo on these ships," said Ray Familathe, vice president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. "We're going to get cargo moved throughout the supply chain and the country and get everybody those that they're looking for in those stores."

Striking clerical workers and the longshoremen who refused to cross their picket lines will be back on the job Wednesday morning, said Stephen Berry of the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association.

The deal to end the strike was announced by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who emerged from the talks just a few hours after he had escorted in the federal mediators who had just arrived from Washington.

"I think it's appropriate to say 'mission accomplished,'" Villaraigosa said.

Days of negotiations that included all-night bargaining sessions suddenly went from a stalemate to big leaps of progress by Tuesday. Villaraigosa said the sides were already prepared to take a vote when the mediators arrived.

The federal mediators said they had little to do with the solution.

"In the final analysis, it worked. The parties reached their own agreement, said George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. "There is no question in my mind that collective bargaining is the best example of industrial democracy in action."

The strike began Nov. 27 when about 400 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union's local clerical workers unit walked off their jobs. The clerks had been working without a contract for more than two years.

The walkout quickly closed 10 of the ports' 14 terminals when some 10,000 dockworkers, members of the clerks' sister union, refused to cross picket lines.

At issue during the lengthy negotiations was the union's contention that terminal operators wanted to outsource future clerical jobs out of state and overseas — an allegation the shippers denied.

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