SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Both sides in the West Coast port labor dispute hailed a tentative agreement on computer technology use on the docks, but unresolved issues -- and bitterness -- remained.
Longshoremen and shipping companies reached the agreement Friday to track waterfront cargo more efficiently using technology that would make hundreds of union jobs obsolete. The two sides called it the first progress since a 10-day lockout of dockworkers last month shut down 29 major Pacific ports.
"The parties have worked long and hard," said federal mediator Peter Hurtgen. His statement said only that the deal concerned "the key issues of new technology and retention of union's jurisdiction for marine clerk work."
While the issue of technology was the major sticking point in the negotiations, pensions and arbitration still separate the two sides. But both sides have said once technology is resolved, the other issues should fall into place.
Shipping companies are seeking to modernize ports to use computerized records of what cargo is stacked where on each vessel and in each yard. Often that information is already in electronic form when the cargo is loaded at another Pacific Rim port, but clerks now retype the data -- slowing the movement of cargo but preserving union positions.
With Hurtgen's prodding, both sides agreed union clerks wouldn't have jurisdiction over cargo planning on vessels, though they would be involved in planning on the docks and in rail yards.
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