Strikers Meet With Pan Am Chairman, See No Early Breakthrough in Dispute

Associated Press

Leaders of striking ground workers met with the chairman of Pan American World Airways on Thursday but said that they saw no easy resolution of the 2-week-old walkout that has grounded many of the airline's flights.

The meeting followed the first bargaining session between negotiators for Pan Am and the Transport Workers Union since the strike began Feb. 28. The session lasted less than two hours, and union officials said that they had nothing new to report.

The officials expressed pleasure that Pan Am Chairman C. Edward Acker had agreed to see them, but said: "We do not expect a breakthrough any time soon."

Offered 20% Raise

The Transport Workers Union, representing the airline's 5,800 mechanics, flight dispatchers, baggage handlers and kitchen workers walked off the job after failing to reach agreement on a new contract.

Pan Am has offered the union a 20% raise over three years, but wants drastic reductions in the pension plan, a 30% lower salary scale for new employees, and the right to hire part-time workers.

The strike immediately halted all Pan Am domestic service and cut to about 30% the number of international flights, airline spokesman Merle Richman said. However, the airline is restoring service and expects to operate about 52% of its flights within two weeks, he said.

Talks to end the strike were expected to be complicated by Pan Am's sale, after the strike began, of its flight kitchens in New York, San Francisco and Honolulu. The sale to the Marriott Corp. cost the ground workers union about 800 jobs, Richman said.

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