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Truck firms, Teamsters near settlement; results mixed in airline talks

A labor settlement is reported near in the trucking industry, in which contracts are scheduled to run out Sunday. The new pact between the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and employers covered by a National Master Trade Agreement would bring peace to the industry for three more years.

As Trucking Management Inc. and union negotiating teams met in Washington Wednesday, spokesmen for both parties said they hoped to announce a settlement by the weekend. According to reports in New York, union president Jackie Presser has told IBT locals that there will be no strike and that local officials are to meet in Chicago April 3 to consider tentative settlement terms.

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Meanwhile, in the airline industry:

The Transport Workers Union, on strike against Pan American World Airways, predicted ratification of a settlement despite sharp opposition -- and some unruly demonstrations -- by TWU dissidents, who complained that acceptance of the terms, much the same as those Pan Am offered originally, would make the strike a ``useless'' sacrifice.

Leaders of a flight attendants' union have recommended rejection of an Eastern Airline proposal to extend pay concessions agreed to by other unions. If the attendants listen to their leaders, Eastern's efforts to avoid a technical default on loans could be jeopardized.

The expiring Teamsters' contract, negotiated in 1982, was moderate compared with earlier trucking agreements. Because of industry uncertainties and sharp increases in nonunion operations, the IBT settled then for a wage freeze, although cost-of-living adjustments have resulted in hourly increases of 8 percent over 37 months. Many union drivers protested, but the agreement held up.

When new contract talks started in mid-January, the IBT sought wage and pension increases and protection against nonunion operations blamed for the loss of more than 100,000 IBT jobs. Some 200,000 workers remain covered by the National Master Trade Agreement.

Trucking industry splits complicate talks. About 1,000 small trucking companies and a loose group of medium-size carriers are bargaining separately. Both seek smaller settlements than they say Trucking Management Inc. can afford.

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