Court Intervention Ends Port Lockout
October 8, 2002 Posted: 11:25 PM EDT (0325 GMT)
A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order to the U.S. government, bringing an end to a lockout at 28 ports on the West Coast. President Bush had intervened in the 10-day labor lockout, saying that the stalemate between management and laborers could not be allowed to harm the economy. The federal court's injunction breaks up the impasse between shipping companies and the longshoremen who load and unload their cargo.
The longshoremen had been accused of intentionally slowing down their efforts, and were locked out of the ports where they worked for nearly two weeks. The workers had expressed fear over possible job cuts.
President Bush invoked the power of the Taft-Hartley Act in requesting that the lockout be suspended. Under the Taft-Hartley Act, the administration is allowed to request a suspension of a strike or a lockout if it can show the dispute is damaging to the health and safety of the United States.
A panel appointed to look into the dispute reported that there was little hope the impasse would end any time soon, and analysts had estimated that the lockout was costing the country between $1 billion to $2 billion per day.
Bush said that cost caused lost jobs in the farming sector, which could not ship its perishable goods overseas, and in the automotive industry, where plants had to shut down because they couldn't get parts.
Bush's move was the first use of the Taft-Hartley Act since 1978, when President Jimmy Carter used it to try to force striking coal miners back to work.
Under Tuesday's injunction granted by the federal court, dockworkers will be forced to go back to work while unions and shipping companies resume negotiations. But it is unclear when exactly the work itself will resume.
The Taft-Hartley Act makes possible an 80-day cooling-off period through a court injunction. However, CNN White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reports that if no agreement is reached during the last 20 days of that period, shipping companies could conduct a secret ballot vote and resume the lockout.