By SIMON AVERY AP Business Writer AP/Ric Francis [26K]
these are excerpts:
LOS ANGELES (AP) � Labor talks broke off between longshoremen and shipping lines after the union rejected the latest contract proposal in a dispute that has shut down West Coast ports and done billions of dollars in damage to the economy.
``The PMA presented a comprehensive proposal to the longshore union, which would have made their members the highest-paid blue-collar workers in America,'' said Sugerman.
Analysts and business leaders have warned the shutdown will cause a noticeable increase in plant closings, job losses and financial market turmoil.
Experts have estimated the shutdown could cost the U.S. economy up to $2 billion a day.
As part of the contract offer, union members would have received an increase in pay, complete health care coverage with no premiums and no deductibles and a $1 billion increase to the union's pension plan.
The PMA offered to reopen the West Coast ports if the union agreed to a 90-day contract extension to finalize the new contract, Sugerman said.
``It is time to settle this contract dispute,'' PMA President Joseph Miniace said in a letter to Spinosa. ``This is a $1 billion offer ... Let's open the ports tomorrow. It's time to put the nation's interests ahead of ours.''
Already, storage facilities at beef, pork and poultry processing facilities across the country are full � crammed with produce that can't be exported.
With nowhere to move their product, plant operators were expected to begin shutting down Monday, with layoffs soon to follow, said Mary Kay Thatcher, public policy director of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
In less than two weeks, if the shutdown continues, manufacturing plants will be grinding to a halt all over the country, farmers will be up in arms, and Asian equity and currency markets could face a full blown crisis, said Steven Cohen, a University of California, Berkeley professor of regional planning.