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For Immediate Release
October 7, 2002

President Takes Action to Protect America's Economy and Jobs

      Executive Order

Three times as much of the U.S. economy is now directly related to trade as was the case in 1971, the last time the United States had a major West Coast port work stoppage.

The Issue

West Coast ports have been closed since the second shift on Sunday, September 29, when the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) shut down the ports in response to a reported work slow-down by members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).

What Happens Next

Step 1: The President’s Executive Order

The President’s Executive Order establishes a Board of Inquiry. The Executive Order states that:

The law states that the President may establish the Board of Inquiry if he determines that the labor dispute issue “will imperil the national health and safety.” The President has determined that the short-term and long-term damage to our economy and our national health and safety constitute such a threat.

The President has appointed the following three Board of Inquiry members:

The President has chosen these three individuals for the Board because they are unbiased, fair and experienced at labor and employment issues.

Under the Taft-Hartley process, the Board’s job is to inquire into the issues involved in the dispute and issue a public report that outlines the facts of the dispute – including each party's statement of its position. However, the law prevents the Board from making any recommendations or choosing sides in the dispute. The Board may only state the facts.

The Executive Order requires the Board to report back to the President by no later than October 8th.

Step 2: Petition for Injunction

After the President receives the Board’s report, he may then direct the Attorney General to seek a court injunction to halt the work stoppage. To receive this injunction, the Government must establish that the dispute affects a substantial part of an entire industry and imperils the national health or safety.

If the court issues the legal injunction against further work stoppage, an 80-day clock begins, the ports would open, and employees would return to work.

Step 3: Reconvening the Board of Inquiry

After 60 days, if no agreement has been reached, the Board is required to issue a second public report to the President that includes:

Step 4: NLRB Secret Ballot Vote

Between days 61 and 75, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will conduct a secret ballot vote of ILWU employees on the PMA’s last offer of settlement. The NLRB is required to certify the results to the Attorney General no later than five days thereafter.

At the end of the 80-day period the legal injunction is discharged. If the dispute is unresolved, and if ILWU employees have rejected the PMA’s final offer in the NLRB secret ballot vote, the parties become free to engage in work stoppages again.

Step 5: President Reports to Congress

The law requires the President to send a final report to Congress on the entire Taft-Hartley process. The report may include further recommendations on how to resolve the labor dispute.

The Threat to America’s National Health and Safety

The President is taking this first step to protect our economy because the West Coast port dispute is causing serious damage to multiple industries and putting thousands of American jobs in jeopardy. This growing economic damage constitutes a threat to America’s national health. The examples which follow detail some of the damage which has already occurred, and more that will occur if the plants do not reopen.


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