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Letter to Leaders of Labor and Management in the Building and Construction Industry.

February 01, 1947

[Released February 1, 1947. Dated January 31, 1947]


I congratulate the International Unions affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL and the Associated General Contractors of America on the plan that you have just concluded providing for a National Joint Conference Committee. I am also delighted to know that the specialty contractors have their own machinery or are setting up comparable procedures, or may have access to the flexible machinery provided in your plan.

No industry was more important to the war effort, and no industry has a greater contribution to make to the maintenance of a high level of employment. The year ahead presents a great challenge to your industry, calling for united and determined effort, if we are to achieve the great needs of the country for building and construction. Your industry, with approximately 2 million employees has just taken a far reaching and constructive step.

I recall that the government procurement agencies and the international unions comprising the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL entered into agreements in July 1941 and May 1942 which provided for stabilization of wages and conditions at a time when we were at the critical tooling up stage of the war effort. The machinery established by those agreements, subsequently modified to include the contractors, served us well during the war. The combined efforts of labor, management, and government yielded an outstanding record of uninterrupted production.

Now that most of the war-time controls have been removed, it is appropriate that in the American tradition labor and management assume their full responsibility. You have negotiated the present plan without government participation. The public and the government look to you to make it work.

The agencies of government stand ready to be of all possible assistance to you in this new venture. The Secretary of Labor informs me that the Conciliation Service of the Department of Labor will cooperate with the Joint Conference Committee in every possible way on any disputes that may arise. The statistical services of the government agencies, and in particular those of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, stand ready to be of assistance to you. The splendid record of cooperation with the Davis-Bacon Division of the Department of Labor will no doubt be continued.

You have taken a notable step along the road to industrial peace. I know that with the full support of the members of all your organizations--both management and labor--your industry and the nation will achieve a higher level of production and greater stability.

Very sincerely yours,


Note: This is the text of identical letters sent to Herbert E. Foreman, Managing Director, and James D. Marshall, Assistant Managing Director, of the Associated General Contractors of America, and to Richard Gray, President, and Herbert Rivers, Secretary-Treasurer, of the Building Trades Department, AFL. The text of the joint letter to the President from Mr. Foreman, Mr. Marshall, Mr. Gray, and Mr. Rivers was released with the President's reply, together with the text of an agreement between the organizations providing for a National Joint Conference Committee. The purpose of the Committee, as stated in the agreement, was to set up machinery in the building and construction industry "for the settlement of any dispute or disagreements which may arise and which is voluntarily submitted to the Committee by mutual agreement of the parties involved in the dispute thereby furnishing adequate machinery for the settlement of such disputes or disagreements in an orderly manner without any stoppage of work by lock-out or strike."

Harry S Truman, Letter to Leaders of Labor and Management in the Building and Construction Industry. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232369

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