The Law: Warning to Wildcatters

The wildcat strike, a revolt against badly bollixed grievance procedures, spread swiftly. Within 16 days almost all 50,000 soft-coal miners in West Virginia walked off the job. The mine owners went to court, and Federal Judge Kenneth K. Hall slapped the United Mine Workers with a gigantic $500,000 fine, plus $100,000 a day for as long as the strike lasted. Last week, seven working days and $1.2 million later, most of the wildcatters went back to work.

In recent years, no-strike clauses that ban walkouts have been written into most labor contracts, including those covering the West Virginia mines. Trouble is, when...

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