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NEW YORK (AP) — A deal has been struck that for now averts a strike by 14,500 longshoremen at major ports on the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.

A federal mediator announced Friday that an expired contract for workers in the International Association of Longshoremen would be extended for another 30 days while negotiations continue.

The longshoremen had been preparing for a possible strike Sunday that would probably have crippled operations at ports that handle about 40 percent of all U.S. container cargo.

The mediator says there have been major steps forward toward resolving the dispute.

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