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February 12, 1997

The union says it would prefer Clinton stay out of the dispute over pay and job security. The airline has been asking for administration involvement.

Clinton, asked about the situation, said, ``This issue has huge implications for our country.″

And aides said he had ordered staff members to study the potential economic impact of a strike, a possible step toward presidential intervention.

But Clinton also said the negotiators should ``make maximum use of the mediation board process″ rather than waiting for any outside effort. ``That is what ought to be done today and that’s all I have to say about it today.″

Airline and union negotiators met through the day. But Ken Hipp, chairman of the National Mediation Board, said, ``It is going slowly and with increasing difficulty.″

As for the sudden discussion of possible White House intervention, he said, ``It makes it much more difficult to get an agreement at the table.″


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