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Baltimore Port Fully Reopens on Contract-Extension Deal

Baltimore’s port, a gateway for autos from Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Mazda Motor Corp., fully reopened tonight after an agreement was reached to temporarily extend local contracts. Longshoremen had partially resumed work earlier today, leaving car shipments still idled.

Workers have agreed to a 90-day extension on local contracts following talks today between Local 333 of the International Longshoremen’s Association and the Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore Inc., said Richard Scher, a spokesman for the Maryland Port Administration. The extension ends the stoppage and all cargo will be worked, Scher said in an e-mailed statement.

Baltimore’s Local 333 announced a work stoppage on Oct. 15 after failed negotiations with the Steamship Trade Association over its local contract, which covers the handling of items such as automobiles, said Jim McNamara, a spokesman for the ILA. The other three chapters, including 1429, which have no contract disputes, joined 333 in the strike.

The port had partially reopened earlier today with the chapters working under the master contract, a separate agreement that covers containers and roll-on, roll-off farm and construction heavy equipment.

Local 333 is the only local union that handles autos, Scher said. Negotiations between Local 333 and the Steamship Trade Association had taken place today, member Gwendolyn Williamson said in an earlier phone interview.

The four chapters and the Steamship Trade Association couldn’t immediately be reached for comment tonight.

A shipment of Mazda autos that was due in Baltimore today was delayed en route for reasons unrelated to the strike, said Nick Beard, a spokesman for the carmaker.

Mazda signed a five-year contract in August that will bring as many as 65,000 vehicles a year to the port from Japan.

Baltimore also handles autos from BMW, Fiat SpA and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz. BMW hasn’t had to use a contingency plan for the port stoppage, Kenn Sparks, a spokesman for BMW North America, said in an e-mail.

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