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Looming Longshoremen Strike Threatens Baltimore Economy

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — They deliver everything from clothes to toys to electronics for businesses across the country. But a looming strike by longshoremen in Baltimore and nationwide could bring the economy to a standstill.

Monique Griego has more on what the shutdown could mean for the local economy.

Both sides have until midnight Saturday to reach an agreement. If they don’t, workers will walk off the job, which could cost millions.

The usually busy Port of Baltimore may soon come to a standstill if the longshoremen who work there follow through on a looming strike.

“When something like this happens, it’s not good for anybody–not good for the port, not good for workers,” said Richard Scher, Maryland Port Authority spokesperson.

The International Longshoremen’s Association has been battling the shipping companies over a proposal to cut royalties paid to dock workers for each ton of cargo they move. If an agreement isn’t reached by midnight Saturday, 15,000 workers will walk off the job.

The Maryland Port Authority decided to open their two busiest terminals, Dundalk and Seagirt, on Saturday. That way they can get the cargo moving before the strike takes effect.

“At least we’ll have one more full day to be able to get cargo in the port and out of the port,” said Scher.

A shutdown would affect 15 ports on the East and Gulf Coasts, including New York, Baltimore, Miami and Houston.

In Baltimore alone, the strike could mean the loss of $110 million dollars in cargo a day, which means full containers will sit and businesses won’t get their merchandise.

“Ports are so big in terms of being economic generators for city states they reside in,” said Scher.

Independent truck driver Jose Espinoza hauls shipments in and out of ports.

“Next week, I’m going to be out of business. That’s because if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Bottom line is everybody is worried about it,” said Espinoza.

If you include all 15 ports, it’s estimated the strike could cost $1 billion a day.

One hundred companies have already asked President Obama to intervene by declaring it a national emergency.

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