A federal judge yesterday rejected an unusual legal attempt by the Teamsters union to keep the Carter adminstration from blocking a possible natonwide trucking strike next week.
After Teamster lawyer declined to saywhether a strike is probable, U.S. District Court Judge George Hart denied the union's request to question government officials about information they would use in seeking antistrike injunction. The union said it needed the information to counter expected government arguments that a Teamster strike would jeopardize the nation's well-being and thus should be halted.
"You don't even know if you're going to have a strike yet, and if you don't have a strike, you don't have a suit," Hart said. He voiced skepticism over the grounds for the union's request which government attorneys describe as "totally unprecedented."
To get a back-to-work order under the Taft-Hartley Act, the government must show that a strike or threatened strike imperils the national health or safety, normally a relatively easy chore.
Teamsters attorneys, contending the union would be at a disadvantage in any forthcoming Taft-Hartley litigation unless it knows in advance what legal ammuntion the government has, indicated they will appeal Hart's ruling.
Meanwhile, Teamster and truckling industry bargainers continued negoiations over noneconomic contract terms. There has been no indication of progress on crucial money problems as Saturday night's bargaining deadline nears.
The industry has offered wage and benefit increases well within the admininstration's 7 anti-inflation guildelines, While the Teamster are demanding more than twice as much.
As days pass without progress, a strike is viewed as increasingly likely, although government officals are expecting selective walkouts rather selective walkouts rather than a national strike. Unless this triggers an industrywide lockout, which is possible, selective strikes could made it more difficult to prove injury and thus get an injunction.
The union's 350-member bargaining committee is scheduled to meet Friday, according to union attorneys, to decide whether to call a strike and, if one is called, what form it should take.
In its petition to Judge Hart, the union said a settlement by Saturday night is unlikey and blamed guideline enforcement efforts by the Carter administration for the lack of progress