OAKLAND -- Union workers ended their strike early Tuesday evening and agreed to head back to the table with the Port of Oakland to try once again to hammer out a contract.

The two sides credited Oakland Mayor Jean Quan with helping bridge the divide that has grown since the contract covering more than 200 Service Employees International Union Local 1021 expired last year.

"Both sides need to come together so that the Port can continue being the economic engine of good jobs that we all need it to be," Quan said in a prepared statement.

The amicable resolution was a sharp contrast to the shut down at the port most of Tuesday.

Striking workers brought operations to a halt, leaving more than 100 trucks lined up at the gate to the port waiting to get in. SEIU workers also lined the walkway outside Terminal 1 at the Oakland International Airport beginning Monday night as travelers began gearing up for the busy Thanksgiving holiday rush.

The union, made up of mostly electricians, clerical workers, security and janitors, numbers just over 200.

But they got backup from members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, who load and unload cargo containers on ships and trucks at the port. The participation of ILWU workers meant cargo operations at the port were effectively shut down.


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SEIU called the strike to protest unfair labor practices although they were careful not to disrupt travelers, and most products expected to go on sale on Black Friday have likely already arrived at stores and distribution centers.

The union and the port have been locked in battle for months over a new contract. The union accused the port of trying to shortchange workers on wages and benefits and holding back financial information.

Port officials said the union's claims are inaccurate regarding the port's financial situation, ignoring debts of more than a billion dollars, in order to resist employee contributions to retirement funds and a two-tier pension and health care system for new employees.

But the message from both sides was conciliatory Tuesday evening.

"The Port is committed to reaching a mutual agreeable contract, as soon as possible," acting Port Executive Director Deborah Ale Flint said.

The union set a target of 9 p.m. Tuesday to end the strike. But the decision to open up talks again allowed marine terminals in the Oakland seaport to resume operations as early as 7 p.m.

There were no details about when discussions would resume. But the Port of Oakland and SEIU were still scheduled for fact-finding hearings on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 despite the strike.

Staff writer Harry Harris contributed to this report.