The public demonstrated during the past week that it was determined to weather a long strike if that became necessary to avoid surrender to unreasonable demands. There were encouraging efforts in many neighborhoods by businesses and residents to cope with the accumulating trash and keep streets and sidewalks free of debris.
Attendance was good, under the circumstances, at Fourth of July festivities despite the rhetoric of Thomas Paine Cronin, president of District Council 47, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, designed to discourage people from attending. Instead of rallying public support for the workers he represents, Mr. Cronin may well have had precisely the opposite effect by unnecessarily antagonizing a wide spectrum of Americans who wanted to celebrate America's birthday in the city where the nation was born.
But it is Earl Stout, president of AFSCME District Council 33, who represents most of the city employees on strike and clearly is the key figure on the labor side of negotiations. His demand that the city pay $48 million to the union in back payments allegedly owed for health and welfare benefits frustrated 11th-hour efforts by the Goode administration to prevent the strike.
After the strike began last week it soon became apparent that there was no great public demand for an early settlement. Although the mood of the citizenry is difficult to assess in general terms in a city so diverse, the prevailing sentiment has seemed to favor taking a strike instead of giving in to Mr. Stout's demands.
Thus the responsibility of Mayor Goode goes far beyond achieving a fair agreement. The public shouldn't have to settle for post-strike business as usual. In return for higher pay to municipal workers the mayor should insist on greater efficiency, particularly in trash collection, as disposal problems remain unresolved. Private contracting of city services should be given high priority when municipal employees fail to measure up to acceptable standards of performance.
The one absolutely unacceptable outcome would be a post-strike climate that left a city administration unable to take full charge of municipal employees, services and expenditures.