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Deadline day for US West coast talks

Deadline day for US West coast talks
Maritime representatives and union leaders in San Francisco will be called to Washington to resolve their dispute unless they can reach an agreement today.

US labour secretary Tom Perez issued the warning yesterday as more than 30 laden ships sit at berth and at anchor at 29 US West coast ports unable to unload, and discussions to end the labour dispute drag on. No agreement was reached on talks that stretched into the night on Thursday, but more are scheduled for today.

The current sticking point of the 10-month discussions between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) involves the details of arbitration procedures for workplace disputes, specifically the mechanism for removing independent arbitrators.

Should the latest round of mediation fail, the US President holds the power to end the dispute and order workers back to their posts through the union-restricting Taft-Harley act. The act was previously used to reverse a shutdown of West coast ports in 2002.