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Letter to the Chairman, Wage Stabilization Board, Requesting Investigation of a Strike in the Copper and Nonferrous Metals Industry.

August 27, 1951

Dear Dr. Taylor:

The Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service has reported to me that collective bargaining and mediation have been exhausted and that a strike is in progress, effective August 27, 1951, involving the mining, milling, smelting and refining of copper and certain other non-ferrous metals.

The strike is a consequence of labor disputes between Kennecott Copper Corporation, Phelps Dodge Corporation, American Smelting and Refining Company, Anaconda Copper and Mining Company (including International Smelting and Refining Company), and other employers who are similarly engaged in mining, milling, smelting or refining copper or other non-ferrous metals and certain of their employees represented by certain labor organizations, including the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, several railroad brotherhoods, and unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor.

On the basis of information and advice submitted to me by the Office of Defense Mobilization and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, I am of the opinion that the disputes are of a character which substantially threaten the progress of national defense. Thus, in accordance with the terms of E.O. 10233, I am referring the disputes to the Wage Stabilization Board and asking that the Board investigate and inquire into the issues in dispute and promptly report to me with its recommendations to the parties as to fair and equitable terms of settlement. I am asking the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to provide the Board with a record of the issues in dispute.

The Director of the Office of Defense Mobilization has reported to me on the serious effect of the strike on the production of copper and other non-ferrous metals. The present critical shortage of copper has inhibited fulfillment of essential production schedules. Thus, the strike has an immediate and very serious impact on the defense program.

It is my earnest hope that the men involved will comply with your request that they return to work while the matter is before the Board and that the utilization of the Board's machinery will thus serve its purpose of restoring to production the facilities necessary to the national defense. I am sure that, in that event, the Board will proceed promptly in its task of recommending to the parties fair and equitable terms of settlement of the disputes.

Very sincerely yours,


[Honorable George Taylor, Chairman, Wage Stabilization Board, Washington 25, D.C.]

Note: Executive Order 10233 "Amending Executive Order 10161 with Respect to Wage Stabilization and Settlement of Labor Disputes" was signed by the President on April 21, 1951 (3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 743).

On August 29 the Wage Stabilization Board reported that (1) the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers would give no assurance that its members would return to work until a satisfactory agreement was reached, and (2) that it would not be appropriate for the Board to consider the merits of the dispute prior to the resumption of work. The text of the letter was released by the White House on August 30.

On August 30 the President signed Executive Order 10283 "Creating a Board of Inquiry to Report on Certain Labor Disputes Affecting the Copper and Non-Ferrous Metals Industry" (3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 785).

The initial report of the Board of Inquiry was submitted to the President on September 4, 1951 (46 pp., mimeographed). The Board found that the strike was causing or aggravating critical shortages of vital materials and that its continuation posed a threat to the domestic economy and the national defense program.

On September 4 the President ordered the Justice Department to seek an injunction calling for a temporary cessation of the shutdown. On the following day an So-day restraining order was issued by the United States District Court in Denver, Colo., the headquarters of the striking mineworkers.

On November 5 the Board reported that agreements had been reached with all firms that had been involved in the dispute. The Board issued a supplemental final report on November 15, 1951. On February 14, 1952, the President reported on the strike and the settlement in a message to Congress. The message, together with copies of the Board's reports, is printed in House Document 354 (82d Cong., 2d sess.).
See also Items 169, 214, 277.

Harry S Truman, Letter to the Chairman, Wage Stabilization Board, Requesting Investigation of a Strike in the Copper and Nonferrous Metals Industry. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230665

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