ANNAPOLIS, FEB. 9 -- The Schaefer administration, faced with a wary General Assembly and stiff opposition by labor unions, has scrapped the idea of trying to give Maryland businesses the power to seek immediate court orders to halt or limit picketing in labor disputes.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who had been undecided about whether to seek such a change in labor law, told aides recently that he did not want to pursue the idea. Officials acknowledged that the issue is an emotional one that could deeply divide the legislature.
Proponents of the measure said it would prevent violence and property damage at job sites, but labor leaders unanimously opposed it as a tool to break strikes and cripple unions. It would have changed a 1935 state law to allow companies to gain a court order banning or limiting picketing much more swiftly than they can now.
Schaefer aides said the governor was not persuaded that the measure would have had its intended effect of enhancing the state's business climate. Even proponents of the idea feared it could seriously strain business-labor relations.
"This could have ignited rather than defused relations," said Sen. John N. Bambacus (R-Garrett).
The measure, drawn up by the Department of Employment and Economic Development, was backed by the state Chamber of Commerce and a number of large businesses. One of them, the Westvaco paper corporation of Allegany County, had a strike in 1978 during which company officials allege threats of violence were made regarding plant equipment.
Union officials have contended that Schaefer made a commitment to Westvaco to back the bill when the company began a $200 million project last year in depressed Western Maryland. Neither Westvaco nor administration officials, however, have confirmed that any such commitment was made.