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Longshoremen Strike Halts All Operations At Port Of Baltimore

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The same night politicians finally strike a deal in Washington, the Port of Baltimore is negotiating its own deal. A union dispute has stopped all operations at the port--one of the busiest in the nation.

The impact on Maryland is massive.

Kai Jackson has more on the dispute and the problems it's causing.

Longshoremen tell WJZ it's in everyone's best interest to reach a deal and put them and the port back to work.

There's a cargo hold at the Port of Baltimore. The International Longshoremen's Association is on strike. Negotiations between Local 333 and the Steamship Trade Association broke down. When they did, the workers walked out.

"We want a contract that's going to be conducive for the, as you can see behind me, some of our working men and women here in the Port of Baltimore," said Aaron Barnett, Local 333 vice president.

On the table, a number of issues ranging from safety to wages.

The Port of Baltimore is the ninth busiest in the nation, and it has a $6 billion impact on Maryland.

Longshoremen tell WJZ if the strike isn't resolved soon, it may not be long before consumers feel it at home.

There's already concern about Baltimore's cruise ship industry. It's unclear at this point whether longshoremen will work a scheduled cruise on Thursday.

"So if labor does not work the ship tomorrow, then we will deport along with Royal Caribbean and the series. The terminal operator will certainly have a plan in place to handle bags," said Richard Scher, Maryland Port Administration.

Goods that come to the United States from abroad are shipped and longshoremen tell WJZ their workers want paychecks as much as businesses and consumers want freight to keep moving.

"Hopefully we can come back to the table and get this thing resolved as soon as possible," Barnett said.

The Port of Baltimore handles some 30 million tons of cargo each year.

Local 333 represents about 1,000 workers. Three other unions have joined the strike.

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