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WASHINGTON — The West Coast port saga causing delays in cargo processing drags on. West Coast longshoremen Tuesday wrote the Justice Department denying allegations from shippers that they’re violating a court order to not engage in work slowdowns.

This story first appeared in the October 30, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

A Justice Department spokesman said agency lawyers are reviewing the letter from an attorney with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and declined further comment.

Last Friday, the Pacific Maritime Shippers’ Association complained to the Bush administration of a “concerted, systematic work slowdown” by ILWU workers at the coast’s 29 ports. Processing of a six-week backlog of cargo, the result of PMA’s shutout of workers, is occurring well below normal standards, the PMA alleged.

In its letter to Justice, the ILWU blamed any processing problems on the PMA’s unwillingness to address “severe congestion in their terminal facilities, equipment shortages and insufficient numbers of qualified registered workers to dig out from under the cargo backlog.”

A federal judge ordered the ports reopened Oct. 9 under a federal court order, after President Bush intervened by invoking the Taft-Hartley Act that allows for an 80-day cooling off period in labor-management stalemates. The parties haven’t been able to reach a new contract.