An impasse between the dockworker union on the East Coast and a group of shipping companies may lead to a strike starting on Sunday, reported the New York Times.

The union which represents 14 ports involved in negotiations, the International Longshoremen's Association, has not been able to come to an agreement with the United States Maritime Alliance over a number of issues. But the most prominent point of contention relates to "container royalty payments," which offers dockworkers payment for every ton of cargo.

The alliance's chair, James Capo, claims it adds $10 an hour in wages on top of the workers' salaries, which the group claims amounts to $124,000 including benefits. They want to see the royalties frozen for current workers and end them for those hired in the future.

The workers claim they earn $75,000 not including benefits and point to the alliance number as warped. They also argue that the royalties allow workers to benefit from increased productivity.

"The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey estimates that a strike would cost the region $136 million a week in personal income and $110 million in economic output," the Times reported.

[Image: Dry Cargo Ship In Port on Shutterstock]