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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Retailers group endorses bill to speed resolution of port labor disputes


The National Retail Federation (NRF) is welcoming proposed legislative changes to the Taft-Hartley Act that would allow governors to intervene in port labor disputes.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced the proposed Protecting Orderly and Responsible Transit Shipments Act, or PORTS Act, to give states new power under the Taft-Hartley law that would allow governors to examine the economic harm of port disruptions and petition federal courts to intervene. Under current law, such a request can come only from the U.S. president.

"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," said NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French in a prepared statement.

NRF organized a letter of support for the legislation from 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.

"This bill is critical to ensure that port disruptions resulting from labor contract negotiations do not negatively impact the U.S. economy, the letter stated. "We believe this is a tool that will help provide certainty to future negotiations."

Gardner said in a press release that he introduced the bill to discourage disruptions at U.S. seaports and to give incentives for a "speedy resolution" of disputes between labor and port management. The action follows a nine-month labor dispute between employers and the longshoremen's union at U.S. West Coast ports.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is a bill cosponsor.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/8/2015