It’s no wonder the PMA put together its elaborate battle plan last spring. And no wonder that simply opening the gates and letting workers go back to their jobs wasn‘t good enough. What the association needed to win this dispute was the backing of the federal government. And they got it.
At the end of the 80 days, this bitter dispute will resurface -- perhaps even sooner. Meanwhile, the Bush administration, which used back-to-work orders against employees at Northwest and United Airlines last year, has established a new precedent. Interruptions of economic activity, it now says, are a threat to national security. And workers can expect to see the federal government intervene forcefully on their employer’s side.