U.S. West Coast ports are being ''held hostage'' by longshore labor. So says one noted economist. Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a former chief economist with the U.S. Department of Labor. Today, she serves as director of Economics21, in addition to acting as senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. She believes it's time for a change in the way that longshore labor is regulated. The National Labor Relations Act, which currently governs activities by U.S. dockworkers, doesn't prevent them from bringing port operations to a halt at will. But their actions – as in the case of the recent slowdown at West Coast ports – can have serious consequences for the U.S. economy. Furchtgott-Roth says ports should fall under the same law that governs rail and airline labor, and prohibits strikes under the theory that those sectors are vital to interstate commerce and the nation's economy well-being. Disputes under the jurisdiction of the Railway Labor Act are settled through mediation and, if necessary, a board of arbitrators selected by the President of the U.S. Ports, she says, are no less crucial to commerce than railroads and airlines, especially at a time when international trade is so vital to the nation's interest. But is a change in the law politically feasible?