THE DOCKS at all east coast and gulf ports have been shut down tonight as a result of the failure of the International Longshoremen's Association and various shipping associations to settle their dispute.
There is no remaining statutory authority to deal with this situation. The 80-day "cooling-off period" provided for in the Taft-Hartley Act, which I invoked on October 1, ended today.
In the 21 years the Taft-Hartley Act has been in effect, it has been necessary to use the emergency dispute procedures of that act seven times in the longshore industry on our eastern coast--which means every time, except one, that the collective bargaining contracts have expired. Six times, out of those seven, strikes have been resumed after the 80-day "cooling-off period" expired.
East and gulf coast longshoring is the only major industry in which both collective bargaining and the established statutory emergency dispute procedures have consistently failed to give adequate protection to the public interest.
Four years ago, the longshore strike, which lasted 55 days, resulted in almost a billion dollar drop in exports in January and February. The adverse effect of that strike on our export trade was never fully overcome. We cannot pay that price again, or even risk being exposed to that danger. It is the clear responsibility of the parties to resolve this matter and to do so immediately.