US dock worker strike looms despite cooling-off request

NEW YORK - Dock workers on the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts moved closer to a potential strike next week even though Florida's governor asked President Barack Obama to order a cooling-off period if the nearly 15,000 longshoremen walk off the job.
The International Longshoremen's Association, the union representing the dock workers, and the US Maritime Alliance, the group of shippers and port operators, have been bargaining since March, but reportedly remain far from a deal covering cargo handling at 15 ports on the US Gulf and eastern coasts.
The employment contract between the two groups expired at the end of September, but the sides agreed to a 90-day extension of terms that runs out on December 29. The union has said if the contract expires without a resolution it could call a strike a day later.
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