Worries Mount About Possible East Coast Port Strike

The nation’s economy could take another multi-billion dollar hit if the International Longshoremen’s Association goes on strike at the end of this month at the nation’s major East Coast and Gulf Coast ports.

The contract between the ILA and the U.S. Maritime Alliance, which negotiates on behalf of management of the ports, terminals and shipping lines, is due to expire at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 30. It covers the 14 major ports stretching from Boston to Houston, CNNMoney reports.

Billions of dollars worth of imported goods, from clothing and toys to televisions and furniture, come into the country through these ports. They also accept many materials crucial to keeping U.S. factories running, such as auto parts and heavy machinery. Over half of the ocean cargo containers coming to and from the United States go through the East or Gulf Coast ports, according to the Journal of Commerce.

Closing these ports would cost U.S. businesses billions of dollar a day in lost sales, and force them to pay more to re-route containers through the West Coast.

Negotiations have been going on since late March, and union membership has authorized a strike if there is no agreement in the mediated talks now taking place.

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