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Colorado senator introduces PORTS Act

Published: June 5, 2015
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) has introduced a bill that would amend the federal Taft-Hartley Act to allow governors to intervene in port labor disputes. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is co-sponsoring the bill.

According to Gardner’s website, the Protecting Orderly and Responsible Transit of Shipments (PORTS) Act “would grant state governors Taft-Hartley powers currently reserved for the president, including the ability to convene a board of inquiry and start the Taft-Hartley process whenever a port labor dispute is causing economic harm. Once that board reports, governors could petition federal courts to enjoin slowdowns, strikes or lockouts at ports in their states. The PORTS Act would explicitly include slowdowns as a trigger for Taft-Hartley powers.”

The National Retail Foundation welcomed the news. “The nation’s ports and the cargo that flows through them are the lifeblood of our economy,” says David French, NRF vice president for government relations. “Our ports need to function and operate before, during and after any port labor contract negotiation, and this bill would make it easier to be sure that remains the case.”

More than 100 business and trade associations, including the Agricultural Transportation Coalition, Consumer Electronics Association, National Association of Manufacturers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, signed a coalition letter organized by the NRF that stated, “This bill is critical to ensure that port disruptions resulting from labor contract negotiations do not negatively impact the U.S. economy.”