White House urges dockworkers, shippers deal
In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, a reach stacker operated by a longshoreman, right, places a shipping container on a tractor trailer truck at the Port of Boston, in Boston. The longshoremen's union may strike if they are unable to reach an agreement on their contract that expires Dec. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/STEVE SENNE)
By KEN THOMAS
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The White House is urging dockworkers and shipping companies to reach agreement "as quickly as possible" on a contract extension for East Coast and Gulf Coast dockworkers whose existing pact expires this week.
Obama spokesman Matt Lehrich says the White House is monitoring the situation closely and urges the parties to "continue their work at the negotiating table to get a deal done as quickly as possible."
Talks between the dockworkers and shipping companies broke down Dec. 18 amid unresolved issues such as wages and container royalties — the payments to union workers based on cargo weight. The International Longshoremen's Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance are expected to meet this week.
The National Retail Federation has asked the Obama administration to use "all means necessary" to prevent a strike.