Shipping containers stacked on docks in the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California.
Shipping containers stacked on docks in the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California. - 
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Bob Moon: West Coast shipping companies and dockworkers continue to hash out details for a new contract. The old one expired two weeks ago.

Both sides want to avoid another situation like 2002, when management locked out workers for 10 days, disrupting international trade and causing an estimated $15 billion in economic losses.

Marketplace's Jeff Tyler has more.

Jeff Tyler: Dockworkers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are synchronizing their work breaks, temporarily bringing business at the ports to a halt.

Craig Merrilees, spokesman for longshoremen's union, says members are impatient for a new contract.

Craig Merrilees: Folks have responded to some of that frustration in a very measured and a pretty minor way by having their coffee breaks together.

These coordinated coffee breaks cost shipping companies money. Steve Getzug is spokesman for the Pacific Maritime Association.

Steve Getzug: We've seen productivity fall off about 10 to 15 percent at what are the nation's busiest ports.

Getzug suggests the timing of this unofficial work slowdown is no accident.

Getzug: Perhaps this is a way of gaining leverage in the negotiations. We've seen it in past negotiations with this union.

The two sides have a tentative deal on health care benefits, but are still bargaining over pensions, worker safety and productivity.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

Follow Jeff Tyler at @JeffMarketplace