Judge Denies Mechanics Request
Jan. 09, 2002
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A federal judge refused Tuesday to block President Bush's order preventing United Airlines mechanics from going on strike.
At the same time, however, U.S. District Judge James Robertson agreed to a union request for a hearing on whether the White House should have stepped into the dispute. The judge set the hearing for Friday.
The complaint by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers centers on the National Mediation Board's recommendation that Bush intervene in negotiations. Specifically, federal mediators suggested Bush create a Presidential Emergency Board to help break a two-year stalemate over salaries.
Creation of the board prohibits a strike for at least 60 days while the panel works to reach an agreement between the union and airline, based in the Chicago area.
The union, which represents 15,000 United mechanics, had asked Robertson for an injunction blocking Bush's order temporarily and a full hearing on whether to overturn it. The union was set to strike the weekend before Christmas.
Machinists spokesman Joe Tiberi said the group is encouraged by the judge's decision to hear their arguments.
United Airlines officials did not immediately return calls.
The union's lawsuit claims the board did not meet a legal threshold when it recommended the panel to Bush. The union claims the overriding reason was to avoid a strike during the holiday.
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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