Both labor and management officials remained upbeat yesterday about the prospects for avoiding a dockworkers strike later this week, despite their inability to reach agreement over the weekend on a contract proposal.
"We're still negotiating, still making progress," Horace Alston, International Longshoremen's Association vice president, said yesterday.
Negotiations are to resume this morning on a new contract for longshoremen in Baltimore. The current contract expires at midnight Friday.
"We'll be all right. We're still progressing," David L. Bindler, the regional director for Maersk Line and a member of the management negotiating team, said yesterday.
In what amounts to a vote of confidence that negotiators will succeed, his own company has not taken the kinds of measures that are typical when a strike is expected, he said.
"Normally around this time you start pulling empties [cargo containers] off the pier," he said. "We're not doing that."
Although the contract does not expire until Friday, union officials have told management they would like their members to have three days to consider a contract proposal. To meet that request, the two sides would have to reach agreement today. A ratification vote then could be scheduled for Friday.
In Hampton Roads, Va., Baltimore's chief rival, a tentative agreement on a local contract has been reached, Johnnie J. Johnson, president and chief negotiator of the Hampton Roads Shipping Association said yesterday.
He declined to reveal details of the tentative accord, which he hopes will be put to a vote by the membership Thursday.
In Baltimore, the negotiators are trying to resolve their differences over the guaranteed-annual-income program, which provides benefits to underemployed longshoremen.
Management wants to tighten the requirements for the program to reduce the number of people who can collect.