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                         Office of the Press Secretary 
                      (Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts) 
For Immediate Release                                   August 21, 1997 


The President announced today that he has established, effective August 21, 1997, Presidential Emergency Board No. 234, to investigate and make recommendations for settlement of the current disputes between Amtrak, and its employees represented by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees.

The President, by Executive Order, established the Emergency Board on the notification of the National Mediation Board. Under the Railway Labor Act, Presidential action is appropriate where a labor dispute threatens substantially to interrupt interstate commerce to a degree that would deprive a section of the country of essential transportation service.

A strike on Amtrak would have an adverse effect on the traveling public and would severely hamper freight rail shipments, particularly along the Northeast Corridor. Over 500,000 commuters and intercity rail passengers would be affected by a shut down of Amtrak. Commuters in New York City, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and other cities could experience reduced commuter service. Additionally, Conrail's freight service along the Northeast Corridor would be affected by a strike on Amtrak.

Consequently, the President invoked the Emergency Board procedures of the Railway Labor Act, which provides that the Board will report its findings and recommendations for settlement to the President.

The President appointed Arnold M. Zack of Boston, Massachusetts, as Chairman of the Board, Richard I. Bloch of Washington, D.C., and Roberta Golick of Sudbury, Massachusetts, as members. All are independent arbitrators and are members of the National Academy of Arbitrators.

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