A new round of negotiations has been scheduled in the dispute between shipping companies and dock workers at ports along the East Coast.

Federal mediators announced the new talks on Thursday. They are scheduled for the week of Sept. 17.

The longshoremen's contract expires at the end of September, and some retailers have already begun re-routing ships in anticipation of a possible strike.

Key issues in the labor dispute include overtime rules and royalty payments to longshoremen based on container weight.

The U.S. Maritime Alliance, which represents shippers, says union members are takin advantage of loose overtime rules and driving up shipping costs. The longshoremen's union says a small minority are being singled out to unfairly characterize the whole membership.


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