Franklin D. Roosevelt photo

Executive Order 9340 on Seizure of Coal Mines.

May 01, 1943


On Thursday, April 29, I sent a telegram to John L. Lewis, and Thomas Kennedy, President and Secretary-Treasurer of the United Mine Workers, pointing out that the coal strikes were a direct interference with the prosecution of the war, and challenged the governmental machinery set up for the orderly and peaceful settlement of labor disputes, and the power of the Government to carry on the war.

I said that the continuance and spread of the strikes would have the same effect on the course of the war as a crippling defeat in the war. I appealed to the miners to resume work immediately, and to submit their case to the National War Labor Board for final determination.

I stated that if work were not resumed by ten o'clock Saturday morning, I should use all the power vested in me as President and Commander in Chief to protect the national interest and to prevent further interference with the successful prosecution of the war.

Except in a few mines the production of coal has virtually ceased. The national interest is in grave peril.

I have today by appropriate Executive Order directed the Secretary of the Interior, who is the Fuel Administrator and in whose Department is the Bureau of Mines and the Bituminous Coal Division, to take possession of and operate the coal mines, for the United States Government.

I now call upon all miners who may have abandoned their work to return immediately to the mines and work for their Government. Their country needs their services as much as those of the members of the armed forces. I am confident that they do not wish to retard the war effort; that they are as patriotic as any other Americans; and that they will promptly answer this call to perform this essential war service.

I repeat that an investigation of the cost of living is now being made in the mining areas, and that the Government will insist that the prices be held in accordance with the directions of my recent Executive Order, and violations of the law promptly prosecuted.

Whenever the miners submit their case to the War Labor Board, it will be determined promptly, fairly, and in accordance with the procedure and law applicable to all labor disputes. If any adjustment of wages is made, it will be made retroactive.

The production of coal must and shall continue.

Executive Order:

Whereas widespread stoppages have occurred in the coal industry and strikes are threatened which will obstruct the effective prosecution of the war by curtailing vitally needed production in the coal mines directly affecting the countless war industries and transportation systems dependent upon such mines; and

Whereas the officers of the United Mine Workers of America have refused to submit to the machinery established for the peaceful settlement of labor disputes in violation of the agreement on the part of labor and industry that there shall be no strikes or lockouts for the duration of the war; and

Whereas it has become necessary for the effective prosecution of the war that the coal mines in which stoppages or strikes have occurred, or' are threatened, be taken over by the Government of the United States in order to protect the interests of the Nation at war and the rights of workers to continue at work:

Now, Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, as President of the United States and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, it is hereby ordered as follows:

The Secretary of the Interior is authorized and directed to take immediate possession, so far as may be necessary or desirable, of any and all mines producing coal in which a strike or stoppage has occurred or is threatened, together with any and all real and personal property, franchises, rights, facilities, funds, and other assets used in connection with the operation of such mines, and to operate or arrange for the operation of such mines in such manner as he deems necessary for the successful prosecution of the war, and to do all things necessary for or incidental to the production, sale, and distribution of coal.

In carrying out this Order, the Secretary of the Interior shall act through or with the aid of such public or private instrumentalities or persons as he may designate. He shall permit the management to continue its managerial functions to the maximum degree possible consistent with the aims of this Order.

The Secretary of the Interior shall make employment available and provide protection to all employees resuming work at such mines and to all persons seeking employment so far as they may be needed; and upon the request of the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of War shall take such action, if any, as he may deem necessary or desirable to provide protection to all such persons and mines.

The Secretary of the Interior is authorized and directed to maintain customary working conditions in the mines and customary procedure for the adjustment of workers' grievances. He shall recognize the right of the workers to continue their membership in any labor organization, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, provided that such concerted activities do not interfere with the operations of the mines.

Possession and operation of any mine or mines hereunder shall be terminated by the Secretary of the Interior as soon as he determines that possession and operation hereunder are no longer required for the furtherance of the war program.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Executive Order 9340 on Seizure of Coal Mines. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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