President Bush has formed a panel to determine whether the longshoremen's union and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents the shipping companies and port operators, are bargaining in good faith. If the panel determines the parties have not been negotiating in good faith during their contract dispute, Bush can then seek a court injunction to have the ports reopened and the longshoremen back at work for an 80-day cooling-off period.
"We warmly welcome President Bush's intervention in the ongoing West Coast port closure dispute," Gary Shapiro, chief executive of the Consumer Electronics Association, said in a statement. "As we have said, the port lockouts are having an adverse impact on the technology industry at a time when the industry--and the national economy--can least afford such disruptions."
The association also offered its encouragement for Bush to "use all authority available to him to bring this dispute to a close as quickly as possible."
Hewlett-Packard and Gateway, along with a host of other technology companies, say theythe Port of Long Beach to bring in goods such as monitors and desktops PCs from Asia. That port is one of 29 that have been closed for more than a week from Washington state to Southern California.
Bush has asked the panel to give its assessment of the negotiations by Tuesday. If he seeks and receives a court injunction, the ports may be opened within days.