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Eastern Seeks Court Order Against Pilots : Calls Job Actions Honoring Pickets an Illegal Strike

From Associated Press

Eastern Airlines today asked a federal judge to order pilots to halt what it called an illegal strike.

Eastern filed a motion late this morning calling on U.S. District Judge Edward B. Davis to issue a temporary restraining order and injunction against the Air Line Pilots Assn. both at Eastern and nationally. Davis did not immediately schedule a hearing.

Eastern wants the pilots ordered “to cease and desist from authorizing, participating, causing, inducing, conducting, continuing in or engaging in any strike, any concerted refusal to report to work, disruptive behavior in any manner interfering with plaintiff’s normal operations.”

Eastern said the pilots, under the Railway Labor Act, had to continue negotiating a new contract and do not have the ability to strike. The federal act says unions may strike only after there has been an official 30-day cooling-off period, as the machinists union had.

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Will Study Motion

“We knew that was coming,” pilots’ spokesman Rick Chapman said. He said attorneys for the pilots’ union will study the motion.

The pilots’ union contends that it is not on strike, but is honoring picket lines in sympathy for the machinists.

The walkout crippled the airline’s top-priority Northeast shuttle this morning as the workweek got under way, but a court order prevented rush-hour chaos for half a million rail commuters.

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On Sunday, the airline told the pilots that they were committing “economic suicide” by honoring the machinists’ strike, which began Saturday.

“You can’t fly without pilots,” Eastern spokesman Robin Matell said at a morning news briefing, before the lawsuit was filed. “It’s an hour-by-hour evaluation.” Snow in New York City delayed the few flights that were ready.

Effect Could Spread

Most of Eastern’s 3,500 pilots and 5,900 flight attendants honored the strike by the airline’s 8,500 mechanics, baggage handlers and ground crew. The strike began over Eastern’s demand for contract concessions and escalated a 17-month battle at the nation’s seventh-largest airline.

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The effects of the strike could spread Tuesday if the nation’s pilots follow their union’s request to strictly observe aviation rules starting that day.

Only 92 of Eastern’s 1,000 daily flights took off Sunday, Matell said. The pilots’ union put the figure at 68.

Eastern was aiming at getting about 100 flights into the air today, focusing special attention on its hourly Northeast shuttle service, Matell said. Eastern is awaiting federal approval to sell the lucrative shuttle to developer Donald Trump.


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