Port of Portland Longshoreman
by Richard Read
All eyes will be on longshoremen at the Port of Portland Wednesday to see whether they'll move containers at normal speed, responding to a judge's order to abandon an illegal slowdown.
U.S. District Judge Michael Simon issued an order Tuesday restraining longshoremen from engaging in slowdowns, stoppages, withholding services or threatening or coercing businesses.
But the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has defied judges before, held in contempt of court most recently in September after union members stormed a Longview, Wash., grain terminal where they wanted work. Longshoremen got the jobs, as they often do.
The Portland slowdown came as the longshore and electricians' unions argued over which workers were entitled to do a couple of jobs. Tuesday's ruling and an announcement that talks had failed to settle the unions' differences signaled that the turmoil could drag on for months.
The immediate question is how hard longshore leaders keep pushing in Portland, where they had denied staging a slowdown. Longshoremen instead blamed the Port's terminal manager for delays they said resulted from broken and unsafe equipment.
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