A bill was launched last week in the US Senate to effectively make US port strikes illegal, following the recent operational go-slows and threat of strike action along West Coast ports.

The bill is aimed at stopping unions disrupting port operations unofficially by reducing workers productivity and/or efficiency, which was particularly evident in Los Angeles during the recent labour dispute. The bill also targets the issue of unions attempting to impede modernisation efforts.

If the action is successful, port owners will have the right to sue workers for double the cost of any revenue lost during a deemed slowdown or strike. A widespread strike on the West Coast could lose the ports up to $1 billion dollars in revenue per day, which according to the bill would result in $2 billion of daily fines being incurred by workers.

While the bill has a long way to go before being ratified, it does follow a 8 to 1 vote in the Supreme Court this month, which rules that ports have a standing to sue for damages for economic loss incurred during a strike.

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