Nation: The Railroad Cliffhanger

THE nation, Secretary of Labor George Shultz said last week, cannot stand for a coast-to-coast rail shutdown. Over the weekend, the U.S. came within an inch of just that disaster, and the threat, though momentarily averted, remains.

Ignoring a Labor Department plea for a seven-day delay, four shopcraft unions culminated more than a year of stop-and-go negotiations by striking the sprawling Union Pacific Railroad. Almost immediately, the railroads retaliated. The Penn Central, which daily serves nearly 140,000 commuters, announced that it would halt all its operations. The rest of the 128 lines involved in the dispute threatened to follow suit, and the...

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