Parties in the dispute between shipping companies and dock workers at ports along the East Coast have agreed to extend their collective bargaining agreement for 90 days.

Port of New York and New Jersey (Getty Images)

The longshoremen's contract was due to expire September 30.

George H. Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service said Thursday the parties had agreed to extend their current agreement until Dec. 29.

Cohen says the parties are doing so "for the good of the country" to avoid a disruption of commerce.

Some retailers had already begun re-routing ships in anticipation of a possible strike.
Cohen says the move gives the parties more time to negotiate. Key issues in the labor dispute include overtime rules and royalty payments to longshoremen based on container weight.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)