WASHINGTON — Apparel and textile importers can relax a bit with the signing Wednesday of a six-year labor contract between West Coast dockworkers and port management.

The deal is expected to keep labor peace and the ports open. The contract was hammered out in November, but had yet to be ratified. The lack of a contract and underlying disputes led to an unprecedented 10-day shutdown during September and October of all West Coast ports after management locked out workers.

During the lockout, cargo was stranded and a backlog took weeks to process, causing incredible supply-chain headaches for retailers and manufacturers.

About 90 percent of rank and file members of the 10,500 International Longshore & Warehouse Union approved the contract, according to the ILWU in San Francisco. The contract increases wages, but will spur technology investments that will lead to job losses, a labor concession to the Pacific Maritime Association management.

The PMA said the contract will lead to long overdue modernization of the 29 West Coast ports.

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