The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

West Coast dockworkers, employers negotiate tentative health care agreement in contract talks

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. - West Coast dockworkers and their employers say they have reached a tentative agreement on the difficult issue of health care, a major hurdle in contract negotiations at the ports that are vital to U.S. trade.

In a joint statement Tuesday announcing the tentative deal, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and an association representing shipping lines said it depended on resolving other issues.

It also emphasized the union's demand that benefits be maintained at current levels.

Past labour disputes on the waterfront have cost the economy billions of dollars.

The current contract negotiations have focused on health care benefits since before the contract expired on July 1.

While workers have continued to move cargo, concern over the union's ability to shut the docks has rippled through the U.S. supply chain.

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