President George W. Bush signed an executive order today creating a fact-finding board of inquiry under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act in an effort to end to a lockout at West Coast ports.
Although the action could cause backlash from organized labor in next month's congressional elections, Bush cited concerns about the effects of the lockout on the U.S. economy.
"A continuation of this lockout, if permitted to continue, will imperil the national health and safety," the order said.
The American Trucking Assns. (ATA), along with several other lobbying groups, asked the President to intervene in the lockout.
The board of inquiry will report to President Bush tomorrow about the economic damage caused by the lockout and the parties' positions. Its findings could let the administration seek an injunction as early as tomorrow to reopen the ports for 80 days.
If the ports are ordered reopened and the dispute is not settled after 60 days, the act requires a secret ballot vote by the workers on the employers' final offer. If the offer is rejected, the lockout could resume after 80 days.