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Ga. ports chief ‘hopeful’ strike can be avoided

POSTED: September 8, 2012 7:00 a.m.

SAVANNAH — Georgia’s ports chief and the leader of a Savannah union are both sounding optimistic about chances of avoiding a strike by East Coast and Gulf Coast dock workers next month.

Federal mediators said Thursday contract talks will resume Sept. 17 between shipping companies and the union representing longshoremen. Talks broke down last month and failure to reach an agreement before Oct. 1 would threaten strikes that could shut down U.S. seaports from Maine to Texas.

Georgia Ports Authority director Curtis Foltz told 1,200 people at his annual State of the Port speech Thursday he’s “hopeful and somewhat optimistic” both sides will work hard to reach a deal.

Willie Seymore, union president for 1,500 Savannah longshoremen, says he believes “significant progress” is being made and “everything will be normal” by Sept. 30.

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