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Arbitrator Says TWA’s Machinists Can’t Strike

Associated Press

An arbitrator has ruled that TWA’s mechanics cannot stage a sympathy strike supporting the airline’s 5,800 striking flight attendants.

The ruling was seen as a setback to the monthlong strike by the Independent Federation of Flight Attendants.

“Of course we are disappointed,” said Karen Lantz, a flight attendants union spokeswoman in New York. “But they have not honored our picket lines for the last four weeks--that doesn’t mean they don’t support us. When we went out, we went out planning to fight it ourselves.”

TWA spokeswoman Sally McElwreath said the airline was pleased.

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When the attendants struck March 7, the machinists honored picket lines for five days until the airline got a court order that forced the machinists back to work. Company officials acknowledged that without its 10,000 machinists, it would be grounded.

In granting the preliminary injunction in Kansas City, Mo., on March 12, U.S. District Court Judge Howard Sachs ordered that an arbitrator make the final decision.

The arbitrator, Edgar Jones, ruled over the weekend against the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

A clause of the mechanics’ contract with TWA says the company cannot lock out the mechanics and the mechanics cannot set up a picket line until both sides have exhausted all provisions of the Railway Labor Act, which also governs airlines.

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The union contended that the clause only applies when its own contract is at issue.

Meredith Buel, a spokesman for the National Mediation Board, said no new talks to end the attendants’ strike were scheduled.


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