Nation: Intransigence in Charleston

From the beginning, the issues in the Charleston, S.C., hospital strike have been union recognition and official intransigence. For three months the walkout by 360 black workers—most of them women of limited skills earning only $1.30 to $1.60 per hour—has disrupted the gracious antebellum city with the threat of racial violence.

Authorities of Medical College Hospital and Charleston County Hospital, initially backed by the state, took the position early in the dispute that they could not legally bargain with a union of employees paid out of public funds. Gradually the anti-union tradition crumbled under strong pressure. A 9 p.m. curfew enforced by...

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