Port Plan

The White House is planning to take action in the event of a labor strike at West Coast ports, according to a recent report in the Los Angeles Times. The Bush Administration formed a group in May to monitor the West Coast port negotiations. The group includes members of the departments of Commerce, Labor, Transportation and Office of Homeland Security. The Times story said the administration’s strike plans include declaring a national emergency and forcing delay of a strike for 80 days, bargaining on a port-by-port basis (thus, breaking up the coastwide bargaining unit), using Navy personnel to keep the ports running, or shifting the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) from the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Act to the National Railway Labor Act, which would give the administration more power to avert strikes and oversee contract settlements. Talks between representatives of the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association, an organization of major shipping lines, have been suspended. The ILWU’s contract expired July 1, but port activity has continued uninterrupted during the negotiations.