WASHINGTON (AP) -- A labor standoff between West Coast longshoremen and shippers has escalated to the White House, with President Bush taking steps Tuesday to reopen the crippled ports to prevent a full-blown economic crisis.
Bush was expected to ask a federal court in San Francisco to end the lockout at all 29 West Coast ports for 80 days, citing injury to the nation's health and safety, an administration official said. White House officials said that while the president had not made a final decision, they were making plans for Bush to announce his intervention late Tuesday afternoon at the White House.
That would mark the first presidential effort in a quarter century to end a work stoppage under the Taft-Hartley Act.
The court action was expected to follow a report by a presidential inquiry board formed Monday to measure the economic harm and detail the demands of both sides.
Bush expected to receive the report at midday and was to make his final decision shortly thereafter, said several White House officials, who said the president was virtually certain to seek an injunction.
The lockout, if permitted to continue, "will imperil the national health and safety," Bush wrote in his executive order Monday establishing the board.
Businesses across the country complained that they were starting to feel squeezed by the shutdown and pressed the White House to step in to help end the stalemate.
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