Washington, D.C. (October 2, 2002) – The National Right to Work Foundation today blasted officials of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) for exploiting America’s economic crisis and concerns over national security to increase their power by forcing the shutdown of all West Coast shipping ports. Using a variety of work slowdown tactics, including deliberately understaffing key operations and sending workers to jobs for which they were not qualified, ILWU officials made it impossible for the ports to function. Experts have estimated that the shutdown of West Coast ports will cost the American economy $1 billion each day. “With actions taken directly from the union playbook used during other periods of crisis, ILWU officials have chosen to use their increased leverage to make unreasonable demands,” stated Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “This is a perfect example of why workers should be freed from government-backed forced unionism which gives union bosses a virtual stranglehold over workers’ jobs and America’s economy.” Resulting from the many union coercive powers created by federal labor law, ILWU officials have been empowered to interfere with the ability of thousands of workers to support their families. For example, union officials may lawfully deny employees any opportunity to vote on their employer’s contract offer. Meanwhile, few employees dare to object to the union’s tactics. Workers who disagree with union demands often face hefty fines, harassment, and union violence. Union officials have a long history of using national crises to expand their power and influence. During the Second World War, Big Labor used strikes and work stoppages to impose forced unionism on hundreds of thousands of workers. In the most notorious of these strikes, union officials were able to shut down vital iron mines and ultimately persuaded the federal government to mandate that all mining employees pay union dues as a condition of employment. By the end of World War II, more than 78 percent of unionized employees were governed by contracts that required them to pay union dues as a condition of employment, a fourfold increase.