President Barack Obama is facing pressure to intervene andprevent a strike that would gridlock eastern U.S. ports and riskdamaging industries from retail to manufacturing.

Federal mediators have been pushing for a deal betweendockworkers and their employers before a Dec. 29 deadline. Talksbetween the International Longshoremen's Association and the U.S.Maritime Alliance broke down last week amid a dispute overso-called container royalty fees, or levies that supplementwages.

A walkout would be the first at East Coast and Gulf Coast portssince 1977, and would halt shipments of containerized cargo,including clothing, frozen foods and car parts. Obama would be leftto choose between forsaking a pro-labor stance by invoking the 1947Taft-Hartley Act and allowing a union action that could compoundthe effects of the fiscal cliff.

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