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Larry Thomas

Dockworkers talks to resume Sept. 17

WASHINGTON — Contract talks between East Coast port operators and unionized dockworkers will resume the week of Sept. 17 at the behest of a federal mediator.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service said Thursday it would oversee the new round of talks, which are aimed at averting a strike that could occur when the dockworkers' contract expires Sept. 30.

A strike would effectively shut down 14 U.S. ports on the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico.

Furniture retailers and manufacturers have been preparing for a possible work stoppage for weeks, and some are in the process of redirecting shipments from Asian suppliers to West Coast ports.

Contract talks between the International Longshoremen's Assn. and the United States Maritime Alliance broke down Aug. 22. About 14,500 workers are covered by the existing contract.

The mediation service said it would not disclose the location of the upcoming meeting.

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