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Associated Press

How did West Coast ports get so jammed? And what comes next?

LOS ANGELES (AP) — After reaching a tentative contract agreement that covers the West Coast's 29 seaports, dockworkers are clearing an immense backlog of cargo that accumulated as their negotiations with employers stalled.

Overall, the ports handle roughly one-quarter of U.S. international trade, an amount worth about $1 trillion annually.

With the contract impasse resolved, here are some questions and answers about how we got here and what comes next:

JUST HOW BAD IS THE CARGO BACKLOG?



Most West Coast ports bustling again after labor deal

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Nearly all West Coast seaports began the work week with crews hustling to load and unload cargo ships that were held up amid a months-long dispute over a new contract for dockworkers.

The exception Monday was the Port of Oakland, where problems persisted three days after negotiators for the dockworkers' union and for employers reached a tentative agreement covering all 29 West Coast ports. Those ports handle roughly one-quarter of U.S. international trade, an amount worth about $1 trillion annually.



Crews free humpback whale tangled in fishing line off Hawaii

video courtesy NOAA via Hawaii News Now

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) -- Officials say a 45-ton humpback whale entangled with fishing line in Hawaii waters for more than a week is finally free.

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary said Saturday that its craft got within 10 feet of the mammal a day earlier and the crew used a pole equipped with a knife to saw the line free.

Ed Lyman of the sanctuary says several hundred feet of line was cut away.



West Coast seaports tackle huge cargo backlog

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Parked off the Southern California coast is an armada of ships bulging with containers holding a shopper's delight of goods that would already be on store shelves, but for a labor dispute that has disrupted international trade for months.

The volume of cargo that West Coast dockworkers and their employers must clear, now that they've reached a tentative contract agreement Friday evening, is staggering. Put in a line, the containers would stretch 579 miles; stacked up, they'd rise nearly 250 miles - about the orbiting altitude of the International Space Station.



Antarctica holds key to mankind's future

DECEPTION ISLAND, Antarctica (AP) -- Earth's past, present and future come together here on the northern peninsula of Antarctica, the wildest, most desolate and mysterious of its continents.

Clues to answering humanity's most basic questions are locked in this continental freezer the size of the United States and half of Canada: Where did we come from? Are we alone in the universe? What's the fate of our warming planet?



Two sides in ports dispute reach tentative contract

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Negotiators reached a tentative contract covering West Coast dockworkers on Friday evening, likely ending a protracted labor dispute that snarled international trade at seaports handling about $1 trillion worth of cargo annually.

The breakthrough came after nine months of talks that turned contentious in the fall, when dockworkers and their employers began blaming each other for problems getting imports to consumers and exports overseas.



2 sides in West Coast seaport dispute race against deadline

LOS ANGELES (AP) — With a Friday deadline looming, negotiators labored to reach a deal in a contract dispute that has snarled international trade at seaports from Southern California to Seattle.



Perez gives 2 sides in West Coast port talks Friday deadline

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The nation's top labor official is ratcheting up pressure on the two sides haggling over a new contract for dockworkers at West Coast seaports, saying if they don't reach an agreement by Friday, they'll have to leave California and negotiate in Washington.

Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez gave that deadline Thursday to leaders of the dockworkers' union and a maritime association representing their employers.



Companies in West Coast port dispute make appeal to workers

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Maritime companies are making their case for a new labor contract directly to West Coast dockworkers, hoping the rank-and-file will pressure union negotiators to reach a deal that would let billions of dollars of cargo now stuck at West Coast ports flow freely again.

Employers on Wednesday distributed letters at major ports from Los Angeles to Washington state that detailed what they called their last, best and final contract offer.



Top US labor official arrives as West Coast ports back up

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The nation's top labor official is arriving in California in an attempt to resolve a damaging contract dispute between West Coast dockworkers and their employers.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez is flying Monday to San Francisco, where negotiations between the dockworkers union and a maritime association of companies have come to a halt.

So, too, has processing of billions of dollars of cargo due to pass through 29 seaports from Southern California to Seattle. Over the holiday weekend, companies locked out workers who would normally load or unload ships.



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