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Western Ports to Reopen

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The Story of the Taft-Hartley Act
Text of the Taft-Hartley Act
The 20th Century

A federal judge has ordered West Coast ports to open, after 10 days of being closed. Longshoreman have been on strike, refusing to work amid increasing concerns that shipping companies' plans to introduce technological advancements posed a danger to continued employment. In return, the shipping companies had instituted a lockout.

The 29 ports--in California, Oregon, and Washington--handle more than $300 billion in trade annually and account for more than half of all containerized cargo moving in and out of the country.

The lockout forced automakers to charter cargo planes to airlift parts to stalled assembly lines and left millions of dollars' worth of crops, meat and poultry in danger of rotting on the docks. Some estimates calculate the loss at up to $2 billion a day.

Even with the lifting of the lockout, experts say that it could take 10 weeks to get rid of the backlog of goods waiting to be shipped out.

Judge William Alsop issued the order at the request of President Bush, who cited the Taft-Hartley Act as giving him the authority to intervene in the dispute.

The last time a president sought to intervene under the Taft-Hartley Act was in 1978, when a court refused then-President Carter's request for an 80-day cooling-off period in a coal miner's strike but ordered miners back to work under a temporary restraining order.

Graphics courtesy of ArtToday

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