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Villaraigosa: Both Sides Agree To Federal Mediator In Port Strike

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spent the night with negotiators and announced Tuesday morning that both sides in the strike at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach have a long way towards resolving their issues.

The mayor has also called in a federal mediator.

“There’s too wide of a chasm between the parties right now, though the good news is they’ve agreed to federal mediation and, importantly, they also are getting some movement. I saw movement this morning that I hadn’t seen last night or during the night,” Villaraigosa said.

The Mayor returned from a planned trade mission to South America Monday night because of the strike. He went straight to the bargaining table at 11 p.m. and continued to be a part of negotiations early Tuesday morning.

Over the weekend he called for labor and management to “start bargaining around the clock with the assistance of a federal or other mediator until an agreement is reached.”

The walkout, which began on Nov. 27, has dramatically slowed activity at the nation’s busiest cargo complex as dockworkers refuse to cross picket lines set up by union clerical workers.

Officials estimate the strike is costing the U.S. economy $1 billion per day.

Talks between shippers and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which started over the weekend, continued throughout the night, but no deal has been reached.

The clerical workers have been without a contract since June 2010. The union contends that terminal operators have outsourced local clerical jobs. The shippers deny the allegation and say they have offered lifelong job security to the 600 or so full-time clerical workers.

The strike is the largest work stoppage at the ports since shipping companies locked workers out for 10 days in 2002.

According to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, the President is also said to be watching the strike closely.

“I’ve briefed the White House on this issue…. We’re very concerned and hope that people can understand the urgency we need to have here,” Mayor Villaraigosa said.

RELATED STORY: Strike At Southland Ports Reportedly Costing $1 Billion A Day

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