Business: Up, Up and Away with Wages

The nation's 63,000 airline mechanics are a cantankerous lot, with far greater power over the U.S. economy than their numbers would suggest. Three years ago, they struck five carriers for higher wages, and Lyndon Johnson entered the dispute. The President helped end the six-week-long transport tie-up by telling the nervous airline negotiators that he wanted a settlement regardless of the inflationary effects. The machinists finally agreed to a munificent increase averaging 5.7% a year for three years, thus pulverizing L.B.J.'s cherished 3.2% guideline for wage and price hikes. Afterward, wage boosts of 5% or so became standard throughout U.S. industry in...

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