Negotiators for the striking Teamsters union and the trucking industry made "some progress" but "still have a long way to go," chief federal mediator Wayne L. Horvitz reported early today after a 10-hour bargaining session.
Talks to end the mine-day trucking shutdown were at a "delicate enough stage" that the two sides decided to suspend for a brief rest and return later this morning, Horvitz said. Federal mediators spent most of the day talking separately to both sides.
Asked if the mediators presented a compromise proposal aimed at resolving the deadlock, reached when negotiations broke off last Friday, Horvitz said it was "possible."
When talks broke off Friday, neither side was reported to have budged from positions taken before April 1, when the Teamsters called selective strikes and the industry responded with a nationwide lockout, interrupting much of the nation's general freight traffic and quickly crippling the auto industry by depriving it of parts.
While the impact has been felt only lightly outside of the auto industry, government officials say more extensive disruptions may be evident by the end of the week. If the economy is threatened, officials said the Carter administration will seek a back-to-work injunction under the Taft-Hartley Act.
When the old contract expired without a new agreement, the two sides were said to be close to agreement, separated only by 25-cents-an-hour worth of cost-of-living adjustments. But industry sources are now saying the differences, including work practices as well as money, have been underestimated.
The companies claim their final offer includes wage and benefit increases exceeding 30 percent over three years, although the government says the total is somewhat less and, not counting costs excluded from guideline computations, falls within the administration's anti-inflation guideline. The guideline calls for increases of no more than 7 percent a year, or 22.5 percent compounded over three years. CAPTION: Picture, Energy Secretary Schlesinger testifies at House Appropriations subcommittee. By James K. W. Atherton-The Washington Post