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Charlotte Area

Ports Strike Appears Averted

Hundreds of Charlotte companies connected to major ports on the East and Gulf coasts no longer have to worry about a strike damaging their businesses this week. That's because dockworkers and ocean shipping companies have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract.

For months, dockworkers from Maine to Texas had threatened a strike if they couldn't agree to a new contract with ocean shipping companies.

Hans Stig Moller said that threat has hurt his business. He's the president of Bridge Terminal Transport, which hires truck drivers to take containers from East and Gulf coast ports to inland terminals in Charlotte and elsewhere.

"There was an effect because cargo was diverted off the East Coast into the West Coast instead by numerous of the larger retailers to make sure they were not caught up in a strike on the East Coast," Moller said.

He said that's happened each time the dockworkers and shipping lines' old contract got close to expiring. They've extended it three times, with the latest deadline set for this Wednesday.

But the two sides have finally reached a deal. They're refusing to give details, saying only that each party still needs to ratify the agreement.

Moller is optimistic.  

"We look forward to see it be ratified by both parties to ensure that we can continue the facilitation of global trade - especially, we can keep our drivers' wheels turning," he said.

There are hundreds of other companies in Mecklenburg County that are also connected to the ports, and they employ more than 13,000 workers, according to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.