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Reagan derails railway strikes

Threats of crippling railroad strikes this summer ended on July 22 when, for the second time in 2 weeks, President Reagan invoked national emergency provisions of the Railway Labor Act. His move came during a deadlocked contract dispute between carriers and a union.

Monitor contributor Ed Townsend reports presidential factfinders will now study separate disputes between the railroads (most of them freight carriers) and the 35,000-member Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE), and, under the latest Executive Order, the 85,000-member United Transportation Union. Recommendations for settlements are due in 30 days. If renewed bargaining does not produce contracts then, the BLE will be free to strike Sept. 9 and the UTU Sept. 20.

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In blocking BLE and UTU strike threats, the President said that a walkout lasting more than a week would not only seriously affect the movement of winter wheat, coal, and defense materials, but also would result in layoffs of more than 600,000 workers, adding to high unemployment.