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New York Harbor oil terminals expected to operate through strike

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil terminals in the New York Harbor are expected to operate through a dock workers strike scheduled for later this week, traders and sources close to port operations said on Thursday.

Normal operations are likely at the terminals since their workers are not organized by the union calling for the walkout, the sources said.

The International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) called the strike last week after its contract negotiations broke down with the United States Maritime Alliance Ltd (USMX), which represents the employing shippers and port operators.

In its strike order, the ILA urged workers not to handle container cargoes with the exception of commodities with limited shelf life, mail and military shipments. The order does not cover oil and refined fuel products.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service said on Monday that the two parties have agreed to a meeting but did not disclose when that would take place. Should they fail to agree on a contract, the strike will start on Sunday at 14 ports along the U.S. East Coast.

The contract dispute concerns container royalties, payments made to longshoremen that supplement their income. The royalties were first introduced in the 1960s to protect union jobs as cargo handling became automated, according to the ILA.

The New York Harbor energy hub receives up to 1.5 million barrels a day at multiple oil terminals spread over a 125-square-mile area in New York and New Jersey.

On the Gulf Coast, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), which handles foreign crude oil shipped to Louisiana, said she expects normal operations during the strike.

Representatives of the ILA could not be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Selam Gebrekidan; additional reporting by Kristen Hays; editing by Jim Marshall)

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