Port workers and their employers on the west coast of the US have reached a “tentative agreement” on health benefit issues as contract talks rumble on.

Agreements between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) date back to the 1930s, but the previous agreement expired on 1 July, and talks have been ongoing since 12 May this year.

The PMA, representing the workers’ employers, said the agreement had been reached on terms for health benefits, subject to agreement on the other issues under discussion.

Maintenance of health benefits (MOB) is said to form an important part of the contract between the PMA and the ILWU, which covers nearly 20,000 longshore workers at 29 West Coast ports.

Both parties have pledged to keep cargo moving through the ports as negotiations continue.