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Ports Legislation Introduced in the House

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

(North American Meat Institute)

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) introduced the Protecting Orderly and Responsible Transit of Shipments Act of 2015, or the “PORTS Act” (H.R. 3343) in the House of Representatives, which would amend the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 to address port slowdowns, strikes and lockouts in response to the prolonged labor dispute that disrupted trade at west coast ports for more than seven months. The legislation would allow the president to appoint a board of inquiry in the event of a slowdown and direct the Attorney General to petition a court of jurisdiction to enjoin a strike, lockout or slowdown. The bill also would grant governors the authority to request the appointment of a board of inquiry if the president fails to act within 10 days of receiving the request, and would permit governors with an impacted port to petition a court of jurisdiction to enjoin a strike, lockout or slowdown.

In addition to extending authority to the president and governors in times of slowdowns, the legislation calls for a Government Accountability Office study of the recent West Coast ports slowdown to review the economic impact of the slowdowns and congestion caused by the negotiations; to examine steps taken by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) to resolve the dispute; to identify steps FMCS and the Administration could have taken to more quickly facilitate an agreement; and to determine legislative changes that could strengthen these tools and result in more timely intervention. The Senate included an amended version of the Ports Performance Act (S. 1298) in the long-term highway bill that was passed before the August recess, which would collect key metrics on an annual basis from the nation’s top 25 ports.

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