(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

I had earlier asked Nathan Newman to give a lengthier explanation as to why we on the labor side were opposed to a Taft-Hartley injunction on the docks, even when the injunction would run against management (which is the side causing the current work stoppage, by a lockout). Nathan, as expected, did a good job in explaining. Now comes word (AP story via Jurist) that the President has already got his report from the Board of Inquiry -- awfully quick and awfully sketchy, to my eye (though I know and respect at least one of its members), including no assertion of any specific facts to show that this is indeed a national emergency cognizable under the provisions of Taft-Hartley -- and has told AG Ashcroft to go get an injunction.

In the AP story reporting on this, we see all that we might ever need to see, in order to see that this requested injunction -- although nominally sought in order to stop management's lockout -- is really giving management a great boost. Here's the quote, from the AP story:

"I'm sorry it has come to this," PMA President Joseph Miniace said of Bush's move, "but we have got to get this behind us."

The petition asked for an 80-day "cooling-off period" and was signed by five of Bush's Cabinet secretaries. Bush wants the court to require work at the ports to "resume at a normal pace."

This shows two things: (1) management actually wants this injunction (note that the spokesman didn't say "we'll whip the government's ass in court, we want to keep our lockout going" but said "we've got to get this behind us," clearly implying that the government's suit for an injunction will achieve that management-desired result; and (2) that the President's real objective is to get work to "resume at a normal pace", meaning that -- without any basis in anything the Board of Inquiry's report said -- he thinks that the problem was not management's complete shutdown of the docks, but the putative (or actual, I don't know myself) work-to-rule slowdown by labor that allegedly preceded the lockout, and that the real target of this executive-branch power play is labor.

So my question to Nathan has been answered not only by Nathan, but by the President. Thanks!!

posted by sam 8:15 PM 0 comments


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