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    Port Lockout Ends, Companies Prepare to Clear Cargo Backlog

    SAN FRANCISCO - West Coast ports were scheduled to reopen Wednesday after President Bush stepped in to stop a management lockout that cost the U.S. economy, including food companies, billions of dollars.

    SAN FRANCISCO - West Coast ports were scheduled to reopen Wednesday after President Bush stepped in to stop a management lockout that cost the U.S. economy, including food companies, billions of dollars.

    The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents employers at 29 West Coast ports from San Diego to Seattle, was on Tuesday ordered to reopen dock facilities after President Bush invoked the Taft-Hartley Act to impose an 80-day cooling off period. It could take six to seven weeks to clear the backlog of cargo, which has been piling up just at the start of the crucial U.S. holiday shopping season, PMA officials say.

    Some 200 ships carrying everything from auto parts to plastic toys to frozen food were sitting lined up off West Coast ports waiting to take on or unload cargo held up by the labor dispute.

    Dole Food Co. said it expects increased shipping, transportation and labor costs, and supply chain disruptions after having to divert ships bound for Los Angeles to alternative ports in Mexico, according to one report. The company said it had estimated losses of $2.4 million.

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