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Letter to Steel Industry Labor and Management Leaders Urging an Early Settlement of the Dispute.

September 21, 1949


The unanimous Report of the Steel Industry Board was handed to me on September tenth. In releasing the Report on that day I urged that the parties give "the greatest weight and the most earnest consideration" to the recommendations of the Board "as a basis for prompt settlement" of their disputes. At the same time, I requested the parties to observe the status quo until at least September twenty-fifth, saying "Obviously additional time is required by all, including me, for study and consideration of the Board's findings and recommendations."

I have since given careful study to the Report. In its concluding paragraph the Board stated:

"Because of the vital importance of continued steel production to the people of the United States and to democratic peoples all over the world, we hope that the union and the steel companies will find that these recommendations form a suitable basis on which they can reach agreement among themselves."

With this statement I am in the fullest agreement. My considered judgment of the excellence of the Report is shared by the press and the public generally. The recommendations of the Board have been accorded widespread acclaim and approval as a statesmanlike formula for fair and equitable settlement of the disputes in the steel industry.

In compliance with my request, Mr. Cyrus S. Ching, Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and his staff members have been meeting with the parties during the last few days for the purpose of assisting them in reaching agreement. He has reported to me that because of limitations of time it is unlikely that agreement can be achieved before September twentyfifth. Every possible effort should be exerted and every possible opportunity afforded to reach a settlement and avoid a stoppage in this important industry.

Accordingly, I now request the parties immediately to meet in collective bargaining sessions and, giving the greatest weight and earnest consideration to the recommendations of the Board and to the public interest, promptly to resolve their differences. Since this will require additional time, I also request the parties to extend the period for continued work and operations under the terms of existing collective bargaining agreements until 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, October 1, 1949.

I am requesting Mr. Chins to continue to make himself personally available in order to assist the parties in reaching agreement.

I again emphasize that the national interest requires, and the American people have a right to expect, an early settlement.

Very sincerely yours,


Note: This is the text of a letter addressed to the representatives of the steel workers union, and the representatives of the steel companies, care of Cyrus S. Ching, Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, Interdepartmental Auditorium, Washington, D.C.

The terms of the contract negotiated by the United Steelworkers, CIO, and the Bethlehem Steel Company on October 31 set a pattern for further agreements in the steel dispute. Under the contract all Bethlehem employees retiring at 65 with 25 years service were to receive pensions of $100 or more a month, including Federal Social Security payments. The pension was to be adjusted downward for employees reaching 65 but with a shorter period of service.

On November 18, the last of the major steel companies, the Crucible Steel Corporation signed a similar agreement with the United Steelworkers and ended the 49-day strike.

Crucible Steel Corporation was the last of the 19 leading basic steel companies listed in the President's factfinding board's report to come to terms with the union on the basis of the "Bethlehem agreement."

Harry S Truman, Letter to Steel Industry Labor and Management Leaders Urging an Early Settlement of the Dispute. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230089

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