July 2 - Contract negotiations between the ILA (International Longshoremen's Association) and USMX (United States Maritime Alliance) continued last week and are expected to resume again on July 18.

Many people think that contract disputes over the ILA's demands for job guarantees and USMX's need for automation to handle the increased cargo volume will lead to industrial action on the US East and Gulf Coats if the negotiations are not resolved.

The current contract is due to expire on September 30 and the ILA has not had a coast-wide strike since 1977.

HLPFI understands that some shippers are already preparing for the worst and making plans to ship early or divert cargo to alternate ports if disruption occurs along the East and Gulf ports.