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US West Coast shipping operations continue amid labor negotiations

Dockworkers and shipping lines on the US West Coast said operations would continue as normal as they negotiated after a contract between the two sides expired on Friday.

A joint letter released by the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said “cargo will continue to move and normal operations will continue at ports until an agreement can be reached”.

The negotiations involve 29 ports in California, Oregon and Washington which together handle nearly 40% of all US imports.

The talks were watched closely, including by the White House, with President Joe Biden speaking to both sides.

More than 150 business groups have also urged Biden to push for a quick resolution to avoid further disruption on top of existing supply chain challenges.

One of the main issues in the talks is the level of automation used in ports, with operators saying more automation brings more jobs by handling more goods and dockworkers saying automation would reduce the number of workers required.

Some information for this report comes from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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