Lawyers, longshoremen and spectators glanced up in surprise last week when former Gov. Ted Kulongoski strode across U.S. District Judge Michael Simon's courtroom and took a seat.
No one except Simon knew why Kulongoski, a former labor lawyer and legislator who wrote the Oregon Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act, watched every move during the judge's three-hour hearing on the labor crisis at the Port of Portland.
At 4:30 p.m., Simon concluded the proceedings with an unexpected announcement. He appointed Kulongoski, a former state Supreme Court justice, "special master for settlement purposes" to broker a solution to the union dispute that's clogging cargo across the Northwest.
"If this dispute continues much longer, it threatens to cause even greater harm," Simon said, across "... the city, the region, the state and even beyond."
Read more in today's Oregonian.