Letter to the Chairman, Wage Stabilization Board, on the Labor Disputes in the Aluminum Industry.
Dear Mr. Feinsinger:
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 several disputes between the United Steelworkers of America, CIO, and the International Council of Aluminum Workers of America, AFL, and certain companies in the aluminum industry are of a character which substantially threaten the progress of national defense. Thus, in accordance with 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. I am asking the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to provide the Board with a record of the issues in dispute.
There are three separate disputes involving the following unions and companies:
The United Steelworkers of America, CIO, and the Aluminum Company of America. Plants at:
New Kensington, Pennsylvania
Edgewater, New Jersey
Baden, North Carolina
The International Council of Aluminum Workers of America, AFL, and the Aluminum Company of America. Plants at:
Massina, New York
East St. Louis, Illinois
United Steelworkers of America, CIO, and the Kaiser Company. Plants at:
Spokane, Washington (2)
The report of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service indicates that the unions and companies involved in these disputes have made very little progress in resolving their differences. Strike dates are scheduled by the United Steelworkers of America, CIO, for January 31, and by the International Council of Aluminum Workers, AFL, for February 2. In the opinion of the Service, it is entirely unlikely that further bargaining or mediation and conciliation could be successful in time to avoid serious production loss throughout this vital industry. The nature of the production process is such that the closing down of operations must begin considerably in advance of the final termination of operations in order to avoid damage to facilities. By the same token, the resumption of full production after a stoppage has occurred takes considerable time. For this reason a work stoppage of even one day entails the loss of many days of much-needed production.
The companies represented in these disputes account for over 70% of the production of basic aluminum. A curtailment of these operations in the aluminum industry would have an immediate and serious impact on many of our defense production programs. Aluminum is a key material in the defense program and is in short supply.
The parties of these disputes should cooperate fully in maintaining normal work and production schedules while the disputes are before the Board. I am sure that the Board will proceed as rapidly as possible in the task of recommending to the parties fair and equitable terms of settlement of the disputes.
Very sincerely yours,
HARRY S. TRUMAN
[Mr. Nathan P. Feinsinger, Chairman, Wage Stabilization Board, Washington 25, D.C.]
Note: On July 29, 1952, Mr. Feinsinger reported to the President as follows:
"The Board appointed panels to conduct hearings and report the positions of the parties to the Board in the two cases involving the Aluminum Company of America. At the request of the parties, hearings were postponed indefinitely in the Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corporation case.
"Because of the close relationship of collective bargaining in the Aluminum and Steel industries, the Board decided to make no recommendations to the parties until a settlement was reached in the Steel industry. In the Kaiser case and in the case involving the A.f. of L. unions and the Aluminum Corporation of America, settlements were reached by the parties before the negotiation of the agreement in Steel. These settlements were submitted to the Board as voluntary petitions and have been approved.
"In the case involving the United Steelworkers of America and the Aluminum Company of America, the parties resumed negotiations on July 22 at the request of the Board. These negotiations have just produced an agreement which terminates the dispute.
"I am happy to report that there were no strikes at any of the plants involved in these disputes and that the parties complied with the request of the Board that normal production and work schedules be maintained in the national interest."
Executive Order 10233, to which the President referred, is entitled "Amending Executive Order 10161 with Respect to Wage Stabilization and Settlement of Labor Disputes" (Apr. 21, 1951; 3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 743).
Harry S. Truman, Letter to the Chairman, Wage Stabilization Board, on the Labor Disputes in the Aluminum Industry. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231249