ATA asks Bush to unlock West Coast ports

The American Trucking Assns. (ATA) has asked Pres. George W. Bush to exercise his executive authority to invoke a "cooling-off " period and re-open West Coast ports. In a letter to Pres. Bush, ATA president William Canary asked the government to urge the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) to adhere to the terms of the contract which expired

The American Trucking Assns. (ATA) has asked Pres. George W. Bush to exercise his executive authority to invoke a "cooling-off " period and re-open West Coast ports.

In a letter to Pres. Bush, ATA president William Canary asked the government to urge the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) to adhere to the terms of the contract which expired July 1, pending resolution of their differences.

Canary also noted that Pres. Bush can bring into play the 80-day cooling off period authorized under the seldom-used Taft-Hartley Act.

Work stoppage at the ports causes approximately $1 billion in daily damage to the economy, Canary wrote. Within 10 days, economists have estimated economic damages will reach $19.4 billion, he said.

Canary added that the work stoppage has national security implications.

"Accumulating ships at ports enriches target opportunity for terrorists," he wrote. "Moreover, America’s ability to respond rapidly to accelerated supply demands by our troops deployed overseas can be inhibited by ports choked with cargo containers."

CNN reports some U.S. factories could be forced to shut down as soon as this week due to a lack of necessary parts, and the port closings can also halt the flow of many goods for the retail holiday shopping season.

ATA is not the only group looking for government intervention.

The West Coast Waterfront Coalition, which represents the nation's major importers and exporters, issued a letter yesterday calling for the White House to use "all means necessary" to reopen the ports.

The Farm Bureau also issued a statement saying a prolonged shutdown of West Coast ports would "inflict severe harm" on the weak farm economy, and spokesman Don Lipton said a letter would be sent to the White House today calling for more direct involvement.

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