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WASHINGTON – Federal mediators seeking to avoid a walkout of thousands of East Coast and Gulf Coast dockworkers from Massachusetts to Texas have called a meeting of them and shipping companies.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service said Monday that Director George Cohen called the meeting of the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance before the Dec. 29 expiration of the dockworkers’ contract extension. It said the parties have agreed to attend the meeting but wouldn’t elaborate.

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