The Carter administration ran into an angry vow of defiance from the 1 million-member International Association of Machinists yesterday as it attempted to crack down on more alleged violators of its wage-price guidelines.
Responding to the government's questioning of a recently negotiated contract between the union and United Airlines, IAM President William W. Winpisinger said he will not cooperate in an inquiry aimed at ascertaining whether the settlement complies with the voluntary guidelines "not one sentence worth," he asserted.
"If he [President Carter] imposes any goddam sanctions, I'll sue him so fast his head will swim," said Winpisinger, who is the labor movement's most acerbic critic of the president. "Not only that, I'll tell him to go to hell."
He said that under no circumstances will the union, which struck United for 58 days before the contract was ratified, reopen the pact if the government ultimately finds that it violates the guidelines. "I'd shut down the whole goddam industry first," Winpisinger added.
The developments came as President Carter, in a speech to the new United Food and Commercial Workers union, repeated his opposition to wage and price controls.
Winpisinger's broadside, issued in response to a reporter's inquiry, came as the Council on Wage and Price Stability (CWPS) disclosed that it has found five oil companies, as well as United and the IAM, to be in "probable noncompliance" with the guidelines.
CWPS also said a recent contract between the National Electrical Contractors Association and Local 48 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Portland, Ore., is "out of compliance" with the 7 percent wage and benefits standard. This was the first such ruling on wages; two firms have previously been accused of not complying with the price standard.
The five oil firms - Getty Oil Co. of Los Angeles; The Charter Co. of Jacksonville, Fla; Time Oil Co. of Seattle, Wash.; the National Cooperative Refinery Association of McPherson, Kan., and a Texas refinery of Champlin Petroleum Co., a subsidiary of Union Pacific - were cited for possible violations of the price standard. The price standard seeks to limit increases to half a percentage point less than 1976-77 increases.
The notice to United and the IAM means they have 10 days in which to convince CWPS that their contract is in compliance. United has said it will reply, although it is not expected to agree to any contract modifications. "All indications we have from United are that they will resist renegotiations," an IAM source said.
The United contract would be exempt from the wage standard, limiting increases to 7 percent a year, so long as it conforms to an industry pattern set by Trans World Airlines last fall, just before the guidelines were issued. But CWPS found that the United contract "substantially" exceeds the pattern, an agency official said.
United contends that its contract provides increases of 34 percent in wages and benefits over three years. CWPS costs it out at 36 percent but declines to give an estimate for the TWA agreement.
Although organized labor has strongly objected to the guidelines and the AFL-CIO has won a U.S. District Court ruling against economic sanctions to enforce them, Winpisinger's defiance is the strongest thus far from a major union president. The IAM is one of the largest AFL-CIO unions.