Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott has called on Presidentto order a cool-off period in case 15000 port workers decide to go on a strike, bringing the state economy down to its knees.
First it was the fiscal cliff and now it’s the container cliff the nation has to get ready for. The US economy is facing the threat of a longshoremen’s strike that could close 15 ports from Massachusetts to Taxes, including shipping industry leaders in New York and New Jersey and hitting the entire supply chain with a devastating blow.
In response to the possible strike, Scott wrote to President Obama on December 20, urging him to invoke a federal law that could block the strike. In the three page letter, the governor noted that "the threat to national safety and security that would result from mass closure of ports cannot be overstated."
He said that according to the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, the president can exercise his power to prevent work stoppage at ports, by calling for an 80 day cooling off period and mediation.
"The Taft-Hartley Act provides your administration with tools that can help avoid this threat," Scott wrote. "On behalf of the State of Florida, I respectfully request that you invoke the act when the contract ... expires at the end of the month."
The deadline for the agreement between the International Longshoremen’s Association and employers represented by U.S Marine Alliance is December 29. Negotiations between the two parties were halted when the management said it wanted to cap container royalties, payments made to longshoremen according to the weight of the container cargo. The matter has been under negotiation since March, but still remains far from reaching a solution.
In his letter, Scott noted that if nearly 15000 long shore employees went on strike, it would be nothing short of devastation for the country’s economy, as well as a matter of national security.
“A strike affecting the East Coast and Gulf Coast ports would devastate small and large US businesses throughout the supply chain and harm the millions of Americans they employ,” the governor said.
“Moreover, a closure of East and Gulf coast ports would wreak havoc on supply chains to our Armed Forces in the Middle East and elsewhere, impeding our war efforts and damaging US national security interests.”
The National Retail Federation has also urged the president to take steps that would keep both parties on the negotiating table for some time at least.