The threat of a strike of more than 14,000 longshoremen  across the nation is looming as the deadline to renew a contract between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance rapidly approaches.

The contract, which already was extended for 90 days, will expire at 12:01 am. Sunday. If no agreement is reached between the port workers union and the group representing shipping lines, terminal operators and port associations, ILA members have said they will strike.

The Port of Houston is among the 15 ports involved in the dispute. Collectively, the ports see more than 100 million tons of goods each year, and even a brief shutdown could mean billions of dollars lost in an already struggling economy.

The ILA has said it would agree to an extension if the Maritime Alliance would drop a proposal to freeze the royalties port workers get for each container unloaded. The Alliance, on the other hand, says that longshoremen, with an average of $124,138 a year in wages and benefits, are already well compensated enough.

There has been no word of progress in the talks since Dec. 24, despite intervention by federal mediators to try and barter a solution to the contract dispute.

The maritime attorneys at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers  represent longshoremen who have been injured in work-related accidents.