Nationwide rail strike is imminent

April 09, 1991|By Fort Worth Star-Telegram

WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of thousands of stranded rail commuters. Plants shut down because parts aren't being delivered. Utilities low on coal.

Suddenly, these scenes are real possibilities with the threat of a national rail strike on April 17.

Although talks are continuing, every sign points to a strike.

"There's a better than 90 percent chance we'll have a nationwide strike," said an executive with a major railroad.

For nearly three years, the 14 largest freight railroads and 11 unions have haggled over every issue that traditionally divides labor and management. Sticking points remain over wages, work rules and health and welfare plans.

"There seems to be no doubt whatsoever that the carriers will force us into a strike situation," Fred Hardin, president of the United Transportation Union, wrote his lieutenants March 19. The union represents 80,000 brakemen and conductors.

Although Amtrak workers are not part of the contract talks, they are expected to honor picket lines.

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