LOS ANGELES (AP) - Negotiators hoping to reach a new contract that would keep hundreds of billions of dollars of cargo moving smoothly through West Coast seaports made significant progress with a tentative deal on health care benefits.

LOS ANGELES (AP) Negotiators hoping to reach a new contract that would keep hundreds of billions of dollars of cargo moving smoothly through West Coast seaports made significant progress with a tentative deal on health care benefits.

The knotty issue had tied up the talks for months. Specific details weren't released.

The union representing dockworkers insisted benefits be maintained, while the Pacific Maritime Association said the current plan was so generous it had become the target for tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent charges.

The association had focused on limiting fraud while dockworkers complained that emphasis had blocked the payment of legitimate claims.

An overall contract deal still hinges on unresolved issues including job security and workplace safety.

The contract covers workers at 29 ports which are key trade links to Asia.