March 14 - A deal has been agreed for a new 6-year contract between the United States Maritime Alliance and the International Longshoremen's Association.

The agreement comes after months of negotiations between the two parties. The contract covers 14,500 longshoremen at US East and Gulf Coast ports.

Federal mediation and conciliation service director George H. Cohen issued the following statement on the labour negotiations between the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) and the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA): "I am extremely pleased to announce that today the parties have approved their tentative agreement for a successor Master  Agreement. In doing so, the parties have successfully concluded lengthy, complex and understandably sometimes contentious negotiations concerning a multitude of economic and job related issues. Mutual respect, good old fashioned 'roll up your sleeves' hard work and applying innovative problem solving skills ultimately prevailed.

"This monumental result, which will be submitted to their respective memberships for ratification, paves the way for six years of stable labour-management relations covering all the Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports. What this means in real life terms is that once again collective bargaining proved up to the task and played a major constructive role in helping to avoid a potential disruption that unquestionably would have had severe impact on the nation's economy-at the precise time that a significant recovery is in progress.

"I especially want to convey my appreciation to ILA President Harold Daggett and USMX Chairman and CEO James Capo for the confidence they exhibited in our agency first by jointly requesting our assistance and thereafter by fully cooperating with myself and my colleagues throughout the mediation process. Finally, I want to acknowledge the extraordinary contributions of Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh, Director of Mediation Services Jack Sweeney and Commissioner Pete Donatello."