Washington official: Longshoreman strike at U.S. ports averted, contract extended

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The threat of a massive strike at the nation's ports, including the port of Tampa, has been averted, following a contract extension between the International Longshoremen Association and the United States Maritime Association.

The contract was scheduled to run out at midnight on Saturday, and union workers threatened to not upload cargo at ports along the east coast.

Gov. Rick Scott asked President Obama to intervene, as the strike could cost the U.S. billions of dollars.

Just before 11:30 a.m. Friday, a spokesperson for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service released a statement expressing that through mediation, the parties involved agreed to extend the contract by 30 days.

"I am extremely pleased to announce that the parties have reached the agreements," said FMCS Director George Cohen.

"The parties have further agreed to an additional extension of 30 days (i.e. until midnight, January 28, 2012) during which time the parties shall negotiate all remaining outstanding issues..."

Cohen expressed gratitude to the International Longshoremen Association for their cooperation, allowing for the avoidance of a strike, which he says could have had  "economically disruptive nationwide complications".

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