Tuesday, October 08, 2002
President Bush used his authority under the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 to intervene in the West Coast port dispute. About the law:
The president can convene a board of inquiry to investigate the dispute if he thinks a prolonged lockout or strike will imperil the national safety or health.
The board will report on the position of both sides and the impact of the dispute, but cannot make any recommendations.
After receiving the report, the president can direct the attorney general to ask a federal court with jurisdiction over the dispute to stop the strike or lockout.
The government must show that the strike or lockout affects a substantial part of an entire industry, and that it will imperil the national health or safety.
If the court agrees and issues an injunction, an 80-day cooling off period begins and both sides must return to work.
If no agreement is reached within 60 days, the inquiry board must issue a second public report to the president that includes current positions of both sides, efforts made toward agreement, a statement by each party of its position and the employers' last contract offer.
Between days 61 and 75, the National Labor Relations Board will conduct a secret ballot vote by workers on the employer's last offer. The election results must be certified to the attorney general within five days.
The president is required to send a final report to Congress on the Taft-Hartley process. The report may include recommendations on how to settle the dispute.
The court injunction is lifted after 80 days, and the parties can continue a strike or lockout if agreement has not been reached.
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