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Dockworkers' contract expires, but trade continues

The contract that keeps thousands of dockworkers on the job at West Coast ports from San Diego to Seattle expires Tuesday afternoon.

But don't expect a disruption in the billions of dollars of trade that crosses the waterfront, at least not yet.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has promised to keep negotiating with the association that represents shipping lines and terminal operators at 29 ports.

With tough issues still to be resolved, including whether workers should shoulder more of the hefty cost of health care, talks are expected to take weeks longer.

The more they drag out, the more jittery companies will feel.

According to a recent analysis by groups representing retailers and manufacturers, a work stoppage lasting just five days would cost the U.S. economy nearly $10 billion.

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