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Labor talks for U.S. West Coast ports to continue despite end of deal

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Labor negotiations between operators of West Coast port terminals and the union representing nearly 20,000 dock workers will continue, even though a six-year labor agreement expired on Tuesday, both sides said.

Labor talks at West Coast ports typically extend beyond the contract expiration date, but retailers had expressed nervousness at the impending expiration of the contract.

Officials from both the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents the port employers, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which represents dock workers, have said they do not anticipate labor disruptions.

"While there will be no contract extension, cargo will keep moving and normal operations will continue at the ports until an agreement can be reached between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union," the two organizations said in a joint statement.

The National Association of Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation in a recent report estimated a 10-day work stoppage at West Coast ports would cost the U.S. economy $2.1 billion a day and result in the loss of 169,000 jobs.

The talks involve 29 ports along the length of the U.S. West Coast, including major hubs in Los Angeles and Long Beach in Southern California and Seattle and Tacoma in Washington state.

Key issues in the talks have included rising healthcare costs and the use of outside contract labor.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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