Employers: tentative agreement reached on key issue in West Coast port labor dispute

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LOS ANGELES — West Coast dockworkers and their employers have resolved a key dispute in new contract talks.

A spokesman for the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents operators of port terminals, says companies and union negotiators reached a tentative agreement on whether the union would maintain and repair truck beds that haul containers that have been unloaded from ships.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union had no immediate comment.

Who handles truck chasses emerged as a stumbling block in contract talks. The union wanted those jobs, partly because automation at seaports could erode its membership.

Cargo has been moving slowly through West Coast ports, which link the U.S. to Asia. Employers say workers are slowing down; workers blame employers, citing the outsourcing of chassis repair as one problem.

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