Tentative port deal reached over weekend

West Coast longshoremen and port employees Sunday outlined a six-year contract deal that paves the way for a long-awaited modernization of the waterfront and ends a bitter labor dispute that had threatened to derail the U.S. economy.

While employers and union officials released few details about the agreement reached late Saturday night, the deal gives the International Longshore & Warehouse Union the significant wage and pension increases it was seeking.

The pact between the 10,500-member union represents dock workers from Seattle to Tacoma to San Diego, and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents port employers, will lead to new labor saving technology that shippers say is needed to make ports more efficient.

The deal now goes before a union caucus Dec. 9, and ILWU President James Spinosa said longshoremen will probably vote on the agreement in early January.

Until then, longshoremen will work under the terms of the old contract.

West Coast docks handle more than half of all U.S. trade.