Laborers Balk at Guidelines; General Strike Is Threatened
AFL-CIO leaders voiced mounting criticism yesterday of new federal wage controls in reactions ranging from caution to a call for a general protest strike of the labor federation's nearly 14 million members.
"We have introduced a resolution for the AFL-CIO convention opening Nov. 18, to take whatever action is necessary, including a national work stoppage or general strike," the executive board of the 500,000 member Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union said.
Several construction union leaders have urged AFL-CIO President George Meany to quit President Nixon's 15-man labor-industry-public Pay Board, which Monday ordered a general 5.5 per cent limit on future pay hikes.
Meany, along with four other members of the Pay Board, were outvoted ten to five by the industry and the public members in the decision. The decision also ruled out most retroactive pay for the current 90-day wage-price freeze, indicating that some pay hikes could be rolled back.
President Charles H. Pillard of the 950,000 member International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said, "We are going to do everything legally possible to have these contracts negotiated under the collective bargaining system honored one way or another."
Pillard and other labor leaders expressed fear that the Pay Board's provision for possible rollback of previously negotiated wage hikes would amount to nullifying legal labor contracts.
These could involve millions of workers and billions of dollars in wage hikes in steel, telephone, trucking, construction, and other industries in which three-year contracts have already been negotiated with wage hikes coming due later this year and next.
Members of the President's Pay Board do not expect that many businessmen will actually seek any rollbacks of scheduled wage increases in existing labor agreements.