Florida Republican governor Rick Scott has asked President Obama in invoke federal law in an attempt to halt more than 15,000 longshoremen from walking off the job. The Florida policymaker sent a letter to the President this past week in which he outlined the economic impact such a strike would have on Florida and the rest of the country.
State officials have been at the bargaining table with the The International Longshoremen’s Association union and the US Maritime Alliance since May. However, a deal regarding 15 ports and its workers has not been reached.
The ports in question are responsible for many cargo shipments throughout the US Gulf and eastern coasts. Scott argues that losing those workers would deal an economic blow to Florida and other states.
Workers are currently employed under a 90-day extension of terms, which occurred after their original contract expired in October 2012. If a new deal is not reached or President Obama refuses to initiate federal laws, workers could strike after December 29.
Governor Scott argues that closing ports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale would put 550,000 jobs in jeopardy. Jobs put on hiatus would include workers in the transport and trade sectors. A strike could ultimately cost the US economy upwards of $66 million, says the Governors office.
In his letter to President Obama, the Governor writes:
“The threat to national safety and security that would result from mass closure of ports cannot be overstated.”
President Obama could follow in the footsteps of President Nixon and President George W. Bush in enacting the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act to prevent a worker stoppage for a short period of time. Should the 1947 Act be used, an 80-day cooling-off period will be called for, and mediation would begin immediately.