The Teamsters Union, much to the relief of administration officials, yesterday discounted a statement by the director of the Council on Wage and Price Stability that the government will intervene in next year's national trucking negotiations to assure a moderate settlement.
The remarks Tuesday by Barry F. Bosworth to a group of trucking industry officials "were misunderstood" in press accounts, the union's Washington office said.
Administration officials, who discussed the matter yesterday with Bosworth, also said that Bosworth had been misunderstood.
The officials concluded that "in no way had the administration's nonintervention policy [in wage negotiations] been changed" by what Bosworth said, according to an aide to Labor Secretary Ray Marshall.
And with that, they hoped the matter would be dropped. "We would have worried if the Teamsters had been upset," one White House official said after the meeting.
In his remarks to the trucking industry officials, Bosworth did not set out limits for government intervention in wage negotiations as part of its anti-inflation effort.
But noting that the Teamster have "done especially well" at the bargaining table during the last decade, Bosworth said it is "naive to believe that the government can stand aside in negotiations that are so fundamental to the health of the economy. The economic implications of your settlement will extend far beyond your own industry."
The Teamsters said they interpreted Bosworth's remarks "as a desire to observe the negotiating process, not to participate in it." That was also the interpretation of administration officials, who said Bosworth was referring only to "discussions" with both sides in wage negotiations on the implications for "the national interest."
Labor officials are deeply suspicious of any government intervention in wage matters and fear unions will be pressured to bear the brunt of the Carter administration's anti-inflation program. Bosworth's comments could have increased those suspicions and fears.