STEEL: The Problem Clauses

The vital issues in the steel strike are the twin threats of inflation and foreign competition, which have stiffened the stance of management toward the steelworkers' bid for higher wages. By last week, the fifth week of idleness for the biggest U.S. industry, these broad matters revolved around a little-known section of the steel contract that has brought negotiations to a virtual standstill. The section: the past-practices clause. Written into contracts since 1947, the clause jealously protects local working practices or customs that have existed regularly over a long period, in...

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