WASHINGTON — As House-Senate conferees prepared to try to negotiate a compromise plan to sell Conrail, the Reagan Administration said Thursday that it could not back rail labor protection features that some lawmakers want included.
The labor protection provisions were in the version of the Conrail legislation approved by the House on Wednesday as part of its deficit-reduction package.
The Senate version of the Conrail plan contains no such provisions. It simply calls for the Department of Transportation to sell the government-owned freight railroad in a public stock offering that it expects would raise $2.1 billion to help trim the deficit.
The House plan also calls for a public sale of Conrail, but it contains additional language--notably the rail labor provisions--that was tacked on by the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The House labor provisions would offer new protection for employees whose railroads sell or abandon track. The changes have been opposed by the Assn. of American Railroads, which said the resulting labor costs would drive out of business low-cost rail companies that have taken over marginal lines.