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Letter to the Chairman, Wage Stabilization Board, on the Labor Dispute in the Petroleum Industry.

March 06, 1952

Dear Mr. Feinsinger:

On the basis of the 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 labor disputes in the petroleum industry are of a character which substantially threaten the progress of national defense. Thus, in accordance with the terms of Executive Order 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.

The report of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service indicates that the unions and the leading oil companies have made no progress in resolving their differences. Strikes in various parts of the industry are scheduled for Monday, March 10, and the shutting down of some operations would begin on or about Friday, March 7. It appears that further mediation and conciliation would not be effective in time to avoid serious production losses. The work stoppage which is threatened by these disputes would close down the greater part of the petroleum industry.

The various unions involved in these disputes--the Oil Workers International Union (CIO), various Independent unions, and certain local unions affiliated with the A.F. of L.--have contracts throughout the industry. I shall forward to you as soon as possible a list of the various companies involved in these disputes at the present time. The list will include but not be limited to the following companies:

Cities Service Oil Corporation

Deep Rock Oil Corporation

Gulf Oil Corporation

Shell Oil Company

Sinclair Oil Corporation

Socony Vacuum Oil Company

Standard Oil Company (Indiana)

Texas Oil Company

A curtailment of operations in the petroleum industry would have a serious impact on the defense program as well as on the civilian economy. The Director of the Office of Defense Mobilization has advised me on the extent to which the mobilization program would be affected by interruption of production in this vital industry.

The various parties to these disputes owe it to the American people to cooperate with their Government in maintaining work and production schedules while this matter is before the Board.

Very sincerely yours,

HARRY S. TRUMAN

[Honorable Nathan P. Feinsinger, Chairman, Wage Stabilization Board, Washington 25, D.C.]

Note: On July 23, 1952, the President received a letter from Mr. Feinsinger stating that the last of the petroleum industry disputes, which involved approximately 75 companies and more than 200 bargaining units, had been settled. Mr. Feinsinger's letter, dated July 18, also reported that the industry had adopted as a pattern for agreements one of the first settlements, that of the Farmers' Union Central Exchange of Billings, Mont., and the Oil Workers International Union, CIO, "approving an increase of 15 cents an hour, instead of the proposed 18 1/2 cents, along with certain fringe adjustments."

Executive Order 10233 "Amending Executive Order 10161 With Respect to Wage Stabilization and Settlement of Labor Disputes" is dated April 21, 1951 (3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 743).

Harry S. Truman, Letter to the Chairman, Wage Stabilization Board, on the Labor Dispute in the Petroleum Industry. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231511

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