WASHINGTON (AP) - Port operators along the East Coast have reached a tentative deal on a new contract with the union for longshoremen, averting a possible strike that would have crippled operations at 15 ports, according to a federal mediator.
The deal was announced late Friday in a statement from George Cohen, head of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
Cohen, who has been leading the talks since last year, says the agreement remains subject to ratification by both parties and additional local union negotiations. But he says local talks would continue without threat of interrupting any port operation. Cohen declined to offer any details on the deal.
Both sides had been in intense negotiations since the previous contract ended in September. The parties initially postponed the deadline to reach a deal for 90 days, then postponed it again until Dec. 31.