Pres. Bush got a court order yesterday to reopen West Coast ports, putting a temporary hold on the labor dispute that’s simmered there for more than a week.

The thing that gets me about this is that, first, the Pacific Maritime Association (the shippers) lock out the workers. So it’s an owner-initiated shutdown, right? Then, the union offers a 30-day extension to the contract yesterday, which would have reopened the ports long enough to clear out most of the backlog. But management rejects the offer. And the the feds step in and force the ports to open, on the PMA’s terms (rejecting the union offer). With the Taft-Hartley Act’s 80-day cooling off period, negotiations will resume after Christmas — thus, after any leverage the union might have had has evaporated.

Is it just me, or does this seem really weird? The PMA shuts down the docks. And then the Feds step in and slap down the union, not the PMA. It’s like Peter getting punished for Paul’s crimes.

Alwin Hawkins has a similar viewpoint.