Mediator: Dockworkers, East Coast ports making ‘progress’ in labor negotiations

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FMCS Director George Cohen said Thursday that the recent sessions have been fruitful. 

"The United States Maritime Alliance and the International Longshoremen's Association conducted negotiations during the three day period January 15-17, 2013,” Cohen said in a statement.  “In these negotiations the parties made progress and have agreed that the negotiations will continue under our auspices."

Cohen said the FMCS could not reveal further details about the talks "due to the sensitive nature of these high profile negotiations."

Retail groups including the National Retail Federation (NRF) have pressured the dockworkers and port managers to come to an agreement, arguing that a work stoppage would cripple a vital cog of the U.S. economy.

The federal mediation service is similarly intervening in a separate labor dispute between workers and employers at ports on the West Coast. Those discussions are being held between AFL-CIO-affiliated International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association group that represents port managers in southern California.