Remember that impending strike of longshoremen that was going to cripple the country’s East Coast ports, including Portland’s, forcing Maine companies like L.L.Bean and Sappi Fine Paper’s Westbrook paper mill to adopt contingency plans for the import and export of their supplies and products?
It turns out the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance, which represents container carriers and port operators in the contract negotiations — including Port Americas, which operates the Portland Marine Terminal — quietly agreed to extend the collective bargaining agreement due to expire at the end of September for another 90 days, making December 29, 2012, the new deadline.
The parties agreed to the extension “for the good of the country” and to avoid the chaos in commerce that would have ensued had all the East Coast’s ports shut down, according to an announcement from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
The federal mediation service said the contract talks would continue, but “due to the sensitive nature of these high profile negotiations” it would not be releasing any more info about schedules, locations or substance of the contract talks.
For now, Maine’s companies can rest a little easier. But check back as the deadline approaches again for updates on the contract talks and chatter about a potential strike if the parties remain at odds.