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Eastern Airlines

While I found Prof. F.A. Spencer’s column (“As Eastern Burns, Bush Shouldn’t Fiddle,” Op-Ed Page, March 9) very interesting and, even though I agree completely with his premise and his conclusion, there were several statements that demand correction and/or explanation.

He states that “the pilots did not support a machinists’ strike at United Airlines in the 1960s.” The fact is that United pilots have never crossed an International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) picket line, and moreover, the IAM strike of 1966 resulted in the total shutdown of the five airlines involved.

Spencer’s statement that the machinists did not support the 29-day pilot strike in 1985 is correct, but perhaps some amplification would be helpful. Although most of the rank and file machinists find it abhorrent to cross another union’s picket lines, their leadership has seen fit, for whatever considerations, to bargain away this most basic of union principles, by allowing “no sympathy strike” clauses to be included in their contracts at United for a number of years. So, in this situation, the machinists were precluded from honoring the pilots’ picket line.

I heartily agree that the President should have convened a Presidential Emergency Board. I wonder if President Bush realizes how his refusal to act against Eastern adds to the growing public perception of favoritism toward Frank Lorenzo by this and the previous Administration? WILLIAM J. STEWART

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