Some 14,500 dockworkers are ready to walk out on strike Sunday, and it could shutter ports from Boston to Houston and choke the US economy big-time. The longshoremen are "in a crucial place in the flow of goods," says one professor; New York and New Jersey officials say a strike could drain the region to the tune of $110 million in economic output and $136 million per week in personal income, the New York Times reports.
The International Longshoremen's Association is fighting the United States Maritime Alliance, a trade group, over what are known as "container royalty payments." Those payments, in place since the 1960s, amount to about $10 per hour for the workers. The Maritime Alliance holds that the longshoremen make some $124,000 a year, including benefits, while the union says members make more like $75,000, though that doesn't include benefits. "Unless something miraculous happens, I think we’re looking at a strike," says a clothing industry rep. Some 100 industry organizations aren't taking that threat lightly, and have called on President Obama to push for a settlement; the White House weighed in on Thursday. (Read more International Longshoremen's Association stories.)