The director of the Council on Wage and Price Stability, noting that Teamsters have "done especially well" at the bargaining table throughout the decade, said yesterday that the government will intervene in next year's national trucking negotiations to assure a moderate settlement.
Barry P. Bosworth, speaking to a group of trucking industry officials who will be involved in the talks, did not set out the limits of the government's intervention in either the Teamsters negotiations or other major industry contract talks that will follow next year.
He conceded that earlier government involvement in labor negotiations has been "less than satisfactory" and at times the government intervention "has acted to worsen the inflation pressures." That was a referene to the last-minute entry by tha Carter administration into the coal talks.
Most analysts think the administration pressured coal industry officials into accepting a higher wage and benefit package than they had to because it waited to long to act.
Bosworth told trucking industry officials yesterday that it is "naive to believe that the government can stand aside in negoitations that are so fundamental to the health of the economy. The economic implications of your settlement will extend far beyond your own industry."
Bosworth said the workers in major industries who have done far better than the rate of inflation in recent years must reduce their wage demand if inflation is to be slowed.
"It is the aim of the deceleration program that in the new round of major contract talks, beginning with your bargaining with the Teamsters, that there will be significant deceleration in major union wage increases, and that they are brought back in line with the wage increases of the average American worker."
Other major contract talks next year will occur in the automobile, rubber and construction industries. Next year marks the start of a new three-year bargaining cycle.
Bosworth told the trucking negotiators that the 400,000 teamsters covered by the Master Freight Agreement "have done especially well despite inflation" since 1970.
The average worker has had wage increases of 76 percent during the decade, teamster wages have risen 139 percent, from $3.93 to $9.38 an hour.
Bosworth said there is no doubt that the work performed by Teamsters is "hard and demanding. It requires skill and certain sacrifices not made by many other workers, including time spent away from home.
"But it seems to me difficult to argue that the average teamster is not in good position to make a contribution to help prevent the inevitable consequences of continued high inflation."
Although the Teamsters have organized a number of industries, the negotiations of concern to the government involve the national trucking contract.
Two weeks ago Labor Secretary Ray Marshall told an AFL-CIO meeting in Chicago that Bosworth would no longer speak out on specific wage negotiations, a move that was designed to mollify AFL-CIO president George Meany and others who dislike the young inflation monitor. Marshall said he would be the chief administration link to negotiations.
But Charles I. Schultze, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said in a letter to Rep. William Moorhead (D-Pa.) last week that Bosworth was not being muzzled.
He said the thrust of Marshall's statement was that Marshall would chair an administration committee - that includes Bosworth - that would develop administration policies with respect to specific wage negotiations.
Bosworth yesterday did not tell trucking officials what specific goals the administration had in mind for the trucking negotiations.
He did say that unions in the industrial core of the economy - including the teamsters steel workers, auto workers and coal miners - will have to reduce their wage increases from about 10 percent to 7 to 8 percent, what the average U.S. worker has been getting.