According to reports, dockworkers agreed to federal mediation Wednesday in the labor dispute with shippers as political pressure mounted in Washington, D.C. In the first breakthrough since shippers locked longshoremen out of West Coast docks Friday, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union agreed to have federal mediator Peter Hurtgen meet with both sides to talk about the thorny subject of technology.
The announcement came as California's senior U.S. senator, Dianne Feinstein, called on President Bush
to declare a national emergency and invoke the Taft-Hartley Act, a 1947 law that would force both sides back to work for at least 80 days.
It would be the first invocation of the act since former President Jimmy Carter unsuccessfully tried to end a costly coal miners strike in 1978.
Union leaders have repeatedly attacked the Bush administration for meddling with the negotiations by setting up a committee to investigate federal intervention options.