Introduction of the PORTS Act

Last week US Congress introduced a  bill  that would empower the president to intervene to halt port labor slowdowns ot strikes, and would allow state governors to initiate the process for federal back-to-work injunctions, according to the Journal of Commerce.

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. and Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., sponsored the Protecting Orderly and Responsible Transit of Shipments (PORTS) Act (S.1519) in reaction to labor slowdowns that paralyzed West Coast ports during longshore contract negotiations in late 2014 and early 2015.   The bill would grant states new powers under Taft-Hartley so governors could examine the economic harm of port disruptions and petition federal courts to intervene. Under current law, that request could only come from the president.

The bill has the support of over 100 business and trade associations including the Agricultural Transportation Coalition, Consumer Electronics Association, National Association of Manufacturers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These organizations representing farmers, retailers, transportation providers, wholesalers and other supply chain stakeholders signed a coalition letter organized by NRF.

It also would allow governors of port states to direct their attorney general to use the act seek a federal court injunction against slowdowns, strikes or lockouts. A governor will be able to request a board of inquiry, starting the process for a Taft-Hartley injunction. If the president did not act to start that process within 10 days, the governor could unilaterally appoint a board to start the process.

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