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Federal Judge Denies Union Request

January 11, 2002

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A federal judge on Friday refused to block President Bush’s order preventing United Airline mechanics from going on strike.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson’s decision came after a hearing requested by the mechanics’ union about whether the White House should have stepped into the dispute.

Bush intervened last month at the request of federal mediators, blocking a strike by the 15,000 United mechanics that he said would have disrupted Christmas holiday travel.

Bush’s order created a Presidential Emergency Board to help break the two-year contract stalemate. Creation of the board prohibits a strike for at least 60 days while the panel works to reach an agreement between the union and Chicago-based United. The panel has conducted hearings this week in Washington.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers argued that federal mediators did not meet a legal threshold in recommending that Bush intervene. The union claims the overriding reason was to avoid a strike during the holiday.

Robertson said he thought the union’s arguments in the case would not have been successful, and was unsure of whether he would even have jurisdiction.

Union spokesman Frank Larkin did not know whether they would appeal.

Federal mediators have recommended three airline emergency boards since Bush took office last year. In the previous 35 years, an emergency board was established only once.

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