The Longshoremen's Union is in heated contract negotiations with 14 ports along the East Coast and Gulf Coast. If an agreement isn't reached by December 30th, it could mean a strike.
At issue are the bonuses longshoremen get based on the amount of cargo they unload. U.S. port operators want to cap those bonuses—which often top $10,000 a year.
"We are looking at a shipping cliff if they don't settle," says Harley Shaiken, a labor economist at the University of California Berkeley. He says nearly half of the cargo shipped to and from the U.S. goes through these ports.