Harry S. Truman photo

Letter to the Economic Stabilization Administrator on the Problem of Wage Stabilization in the Transportation Industry.

April 06, 1951

My dear Mr. Johnston:

On March 1, 1951 a collective bargaining agreement was signed between the carriers represented by the Eastern, Western, and Southeastern Carrier's Conference Committees and the non-operating employees represented by the Fifteen Cooperating Railway Labor Organizations.

At present, there is no functioning administrative machinery by which this agreement can be reviewed and either approved or rejected in whole or in part in the light of wage stabilization rules and regulations.

As you know, the settlement of labor disputes in the transportation industry is covered by the Railway Labor Act of 1926. Traditionally, the Government has provided separate machinery to deal with the distinctive problems of the transportation industry. During World War II, the established machinery for settlement of labor disputes in transportation was altered somewhat by the creation of a National Railway Labor Panel which under certain circumstances investigated disputes and reported thereon to the President. (E.O. 9172, May 22, 1942). Subsequent to the National War Labor Board's assumption of wage stabilization responsibilities, the National Railway Labor Panel was assigned certain responsibilities relating to the application of wage stabilization policies to the transportation industry subject to the Railway Labor Act of 1926. (E.O. 9299, February 4, 1943). Such recommendations became final unless and except to the extent the Economic Stabilization Director otherwise directed.

As experience demonstrates, there are many advantages in combining the wage stabilization functions and the labor dispute settlement function within the same agency. I wish that you would examine ways and means by which the officials now responsible for the settlement of labor disputes in the in transportation was altered somewhat by ter the wage stabilization program in that industry, subject to your direction and control in conformity with the Defense Production Act of 1950. In exploring this matter you will want to work with officials of the National Mediation Board.

I ask that you submit to me your views and recommendations on the general matter. Considerable care will have to be taken in devising sound and workable procedures and organizational relationships. The task is to facilitate administration of the wage stabilization program and use to the best advantage the existing resources of the National Mediation Board.

In the meantime, it is essential that some interim machinery be established whereby the agreement in the "non-operating" case be reviewed and recommendations for action be submitted to you. Accordingly, I am asking that you immediately establish an emergency panel to consider the "nonoperating" case on its merits and to submit recommendations to you promptly regarding its disposition. Such recommendations could be made effective upon the approval of the Administrator. This emergency panel might also be directed by you to consider other wage cases in the transportation industry pending the establishment of more permanent machinery.

Sincerely yours,


[Honorable Eric Johnston, Economic Stabilization Administrator, Washington, D.C.]

Note: On April 9 the Administrator established a Temporary Emergency Railroad Wage Panel. The panel conducted open hearings on April 13 on the problems posed by the March 1, 1951, agreement referred to in the President's letter. The panel's report led to the issuance by the Administrator of Wage Adjustment Order 1 (April 24, 1951; 16 F.R. 3559).

With respect to the President's statement as to the need for permanent stabilization machinery, the National Advisory Board on Mobilization Policy recommended on April 17 that the Wage Stabilization Board be reconstituted. On April 21, 1951, the President signed Executive Order 10233 "Amending Executive Order 10161 with Respect to Wage Stabilization and Settlement of Labor Disputes" (3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 743).

Harry S. Truman, Letter to the Economic Stabilization Administrator on the Problem of Wage Stabilization in the Transportation Industry. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230384

Filed Under


Simple Search of Our Archives