By  on July 8, 2014

LOS ANGELES — Negotiations on a key labor contract covering West Coast ports are on hold for 72 hours this week.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association said late Monday that they agreed to take a break from negotiating a new contract covering nearly 20,000 dockworkers while the ILWU attends to an unrelated negotiation taking place in the Pacific Northwest. During this break, which started at 11 a.m. EDT on Tuesday and will extend through 11 a.m. on Friday, the ILWU and PMA have agreed to extend the previous six-year contract, which expired on July 1.

Last week, both the union and association assured that cargo will keep moving and normal operations will continue at the ports until an agreement can be reached. Importers had been concerned that if the talks were to devolve into a strike, the economic toll could cost as much as $2.5 billion a day.

The far-reaching labor contract is between employers who operate port terminals and shipping lines represented by the PMA and dockworkers represented by the ILWU.

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