(MOBILE, Ala.) An Alabama union leaders says a possible strike by Mobile dockworkers could affect the rest of the state, but now the sides have more time to talk.
The current contract between dockworkers and shipping companies was supposed to expire Sunday at midnight, but it's being extended to early February for more talks.
The contract affects workers on the Gulf and East Coasts. Union leaders say the trickle-down effect of a shipping shutdown would be crippling, not just for Mobile, but for the entire state.
Local 1410 President Mark Bass says 800 longshoreman were expected to meet Friday night to prepare to walk off the job this weekend. Now, he says they'll put away the picket signs, at least for a while.
"We're not saying that the strike is completely done. However, we're just trying to get back at the table, and bargain further and go over additional items," said Bass.
Bass said it's a relief for workers and for the many businesses statewide that rely on container shipping in Mobile. For the nation, a strike would mean the crippling of ports handling 40% of U.S. container cargo.
Bass says the ongoing battle surrounds the freezing of royalties paid to each worker for every container unloaded.
"It's a supplementary wages to offset the automation that took away thousands and thousands of jobs from the ILA. If they don't make an agreement on that, we'll be right back where we started at," said Bass.
Local 15 tried to reach out to the Alabama State Port Authority for comment about the potential impact of a strike and the temporary deal that was struck Friday, but were told officials are out of the office for the holidays.