The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• Franklin D. Roosevelt
Executive Order 9508 on the Seizure of Montgomery Ward Co. Properties.
December 27, 1944

Whereas the National War Labor Board has found and reported to me that labor disturbances involving nearly 12,000 workers now exist in the plants and facilities of Montgomery Ward & Co., Incorporated in Jamaica, New York; Detroit, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; St. Paul, Minnesota; Denver, Colorado; San Rafael, California; and Portland, Oregon; that in the exercise of the authority conferred upon it by the War Labor Disputes Act, the National War Labor Board has issued directive orders deciding the labor disputes that gave rise to the said disturbances; that the said directive orders provide terms and conditions, of a kind customarily included in collective bargaining agreements, to govern the relations between the parties to such disputes; that the terms and conditions provided for by the said directive orders are fair and equitable to employer and employee under all the circumstances of the cases; that Montgomery Ward & Co., Incorporated has refused to put into effect the terms and conditions contained in these directive orders; that as a result of the refusal of Montgomery Ward g: Co., Incorporated to put into effect the terms and conditions contained in the directive orders issued by the National War Labor Board in the dispute in the plants and facilities of Montgomery Ward & Co., Incorporated in Detroit, Michigan, a serious strike involving approximately 1,800 employees is now in progress in that city; that there is a present danger that the strike now existing in the plants and facilities of Montgomery Ward g: Co., Incorporated in Detroit, Michigan, will spread to plants and facilities of Montgomery Ward g: Co., Incorporated located in other cities and will adversely affect the operation of other plants and facilities, located in the Detroit area and elsewhere, that are engaged in the production of materials used in the prosecution of the war; and

Whereas the National War Labor Board has also found and reported to me that Montgomery Ward & Co., Incorporated, employs approximately 70,000 workers, and serves approximately 30 million customers; that an interruption of the Company's activities would unduly delay and impede the war effort; that the preservation of the wartime structure of labor relations and the prevention of interruptions of war production depend upon the peaceful settlement of labor disputes by the National War Labor Board in the manner provided for by the Congress; that the preservation of the national stabilization program requires peaceful settlement of wage disputes during the war by the procedure provided for by the Congress; that the persistent refusal of Montgomery Ward & Co., Incorporated, to put into effect the terms and conditions contained in directive orders issued by the National War Labor Board, pursuant to the War Labor Disputes Act, threatens to destroy both the wartime structure of labor relations and the procedure established by the Congress for the peaceful settlement of wage disputes during the war, and unduly impedes and delays the war effort; and

Whereas after investigation I find and proclaim that the plants and facilities of Montgomery Ward & Co., Incorporated, located in Jamaica, New York; Detroit, Dearborn, and Royal Oak, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; St. Paul, Minnesota; Denver, Colorado; San Rafael, California; and Portland, Oregon, are plants and facilities that are equipped for the production of articles or materials which may be required for the war effort or which may be useful in connection therewith, within the meaning of the War Labor Disputes Act; that Montgomery Ward g: Co., Incorporated, is engaged in the distribution of articles and materials that are essential to the maintenance of the war economy; that as a result of labor disturbances there are existing and threatened interruptions of the operations of the said plants and facilities of Montgomery Ward & Co., Incorporated; that the war effort will be unduly impeded or delayed by these interruptions; that the operation of other plants and facilities essential to the war effort is threatened by the labor disturbances at the plants and facilities of Montgomery Ward g: Co., Incorporated; and that the exercise as hereinafter specified of the powers and authority vested in me is necessary to insure, in the interest of the war effort, the operation of these plants and facilities, and of other plants and facilities that are threatened to be affected by the said labor disturbances; and

Whereas, after investigation I also find and proclaim that these existing and threatened interruptions result from the failure of Montgomery Ward & Co., Incorporated, to adjust labor disputes of long standing with respect to the terms and conditions of employment at the Company's plants and facilities; that the National War Labor Board has considered these disputes and issued directive orders determining and providing methods for their adjustment; that the labor unions involved have expressed their willingness to adjust the disputes in accordance with the directive orders of the National War Labor Board, but Montgomery Ward g: Co., Incorporated, has persistently refused to accept the provisions of the directive orders as a basis for the adjustment of such disputes; and that this refusal unduly impedes and delays the successful prosecution of the war;

Now, therefore, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, including the War Labor Disputes Act (57 Stat. 163) and section 9 of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 (54 Stat. 892) as amended by the War Labor Disputes Act, as President of the United States and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:

1. The Secretary of War is hereby authorized and directed, through and with the aid of any persons or instrumentalities that he may designate, to take possession of the plants and facilities of Montgomery Ward & Co., Incorporated, that are located in Jamaica, New York; Detroit, Dearborn, and Royal Oak, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; St. Paul, Minnesota; Denver, Colorado; San Rafael, California; and Portland, Oregon, and any real or personal property or other assets used or useful in connection with the operation of such plants and facilities, and to operate or to arrange for the operation of such plants and facilities in any manner that he deems essential for the successful prosecution of the war. The Secretary of War is also authorized to exercise any contractual or other rights of Montgomery Ward & Co., Incorporated; to continue the employment of, or to employ, any persons; to do any other thing that he may deem necessary for the operation of the said plants and facilities, including the production, sale, and distribution of the articles and materials customarily produced in or sold or distributed from the said plants and facilities; and to take any other steps that he deems necessary to carry out the provisions and purposes of this order.

2. The Secretary of War shall operate the said plants and facilities under the terms and conditions of employment that are in effect at the time possession of the said plants and facilities is taken, and during his operation of the plants and facilities shall observe the terms and conditions of the directive orders of the National War Labor Board, including those dated June 6 and 16, 1944, and December 14 and 15, 1944, provided that the Secretary of War is authorized to pay the wage increases specified in said directive orders, from the effective dates specified in said directive orders to the date possession of said plants and facilities is taken under this order, only out of the net operating income of said plants and facilities during the period of their operation by the Secretary of War. In the event that it appears to the Secretary of War that the net operating income of said plants and facilities will be insufficient to pay the aforesaid accrued wage increases, the Secretary shall make a report to the President with respect thereto.

3. All Federal agencies, including, but not limited to, the War Manpower Commission, the National Selective Service, the Department of Justice, and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, are directed to cooperate with the Secretary of War to the fullest extent possible in carrying out the purposes of this Order. The Secretary of War may request other Federal agencies, including those mentioned above, to assign personnel to assist him in the performance of his duties hereunder.

4. Possession, control, and operation of any plant or facility, taken under this Order shall be terminated by the Secretary of War within sixty days after he determines that the productive efficiency of the plant or facility prevailing prior to the existing and threatened interruptions of operations, referred to in the recitals of this Order, has been restored.

5. The words "plants and facilities of Montgomery Ward g: Co., Incorporated," whenever used in this Order, shall be deemed to include, without limitation, any mail-order house, warehouse, office, retail store, factory, or production or assembly unit, owned or operated by Montgomery Ward & Co., Incorporated, in the areas specified in this order.

Citation: Franklin D. Roosevelt: "Executive Order 9508 on the Seizure of Montgomery Ward Co. Properties.", December 27, 1944. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=16488.
 
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