San Francisco: US senators on Friday put in motion legislation to limit the potential damage of any future labour disputes at the nation’s ports.
The nine-month-long disruption at America’s 29 major West Coast ports is in recent memory and the effects on dependent businesses did not go unnoticed among the country’s politicians.
Hence the proposed Protecting Orderly and Responsible Transit of Shipments (PORTS) Act would allow not only the president, but state governors with marine terminal operations in their states, to intervene to address slowdowns, strikes and lock-outs.
The bill is sponsored by Republican Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and is essentially an extension of the so-called Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 which lets the president petition federal courts to end labour conflicts.
Politicians were driven to action after seeing the negative effects of the West Coast dispute on the supply chain and on the national economy. Although the strike effectively ended in February, port operators and unions only signed off on a deal in May.
Business groups welcomed Friday’s introduction of the bill while the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) called it “anti worker”.