The Carter administration is considering federal intervention in the 16-day-old Rock Island railroad strike that has disrupted grain shipments in the Midland and raised concern over moving the coming harvest.
A plan being studied at the White House last night includes establishment of an emergency board, a 60-day cooling-off period that would bring strikers back to work at higher wages, and a possible order to another railroad to provide service on the bankrupt Rock Island tracks.
The secretaries of labor, transporatation and agriculture met yesterday afternoon with presidential domestic adviser Stuart E. Eizenstat to consider a set of policy recommendations for Carter. Government sources gave outlines of the plan prior to the meeting.
Labor Secretary Ray Marshall said in Chicago Wednesday that negotiations under auspices of the National Mediation Service had reached a "total impasse."
The strike was called Aug. 28 by the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks, the union that performs critical scheduling and administrative functions. The union has been demanding an increase in wages, retroactive to Jan. 1, 1978, and has refused to accept the railroad's proposed new work rules.
Official sources said that under the proposal being considered, the union would be ordered back to work, but at higher wages, under old work rules, and with assurances that the question of retroactive pay would be taken up by the emergency board.
The Interstate Commerce Commission could direct another railroad to maintain service on the Rock Island tracks in the initial state. The Rock Island line has been bankrupt for several years and some fear it will not have the funds to provide adequate service on its own.
In another development, a tentative agreement was reached yesterday between striking grain handlers and one of eight shut-down grain terminals at the huge Duluth-Superior port complex, which handles about one tenth of U.S. grain exports. The settlement was with the Farmers Union Grain Terminal Association.