A labor dispute that has partially shut down 29 West Coast ports continued through a third day Monday, with cargo vessels stacked up at anchor, supply shortages rippling through the economy and the U.S. labor secretary hoping to broker a settlement.
President Obama dispatched Labor Secretary Tom Perez to San Francisco to meet with the two sides on Tuesday: the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents 20,000 dockworkers, and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents shipping companies. Neither party has said anything publicly since Friday, when a federal mediator requested a news blackout.
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The PMA has said that the talks, which have dragged on for nine months, got snagged on a union demand for changes in the system of binding arbitration of contract disputes. The unions has said the two sides are near an agreement.
Meanwhile, outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, the nation's busiest cargo hubs, 34 freighters idled Monday waiting for a berth.
Those and 27 other ports on the West Coast have been idled since Friday night and were not set to resume operations until Tuesday morning. Work has continued, however, at dockyards, rail yards and terminal gates, which has helped to clear some backlogged cargo containers.