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Letter to the President of the United Steelworkers and to Representatives of the Steel Industry.

September 08, 1959


Immediately upon my return from Europe I received another report from the Secretary of Labor concerning the negotiations between the steel companies and the United Steelworkers of America.

It is disappointing to me and disheartening to our people that so little apparent progress toward settlement has been made thus far. Tomorrow the strike will begin its ninth week. For this extended period a half million employees of the steel companies have been out of work. Over 85% of the steel-producing capacity of the Nation has been shut down. About 145,000 workers, who have no connection with the strike but whose jobs depend on steal, have been forced into idleness.

The preservation of freedom in America is not an exclusive responsibility of Government. Every individual to a greater or lesser extent shares that responsibility. In these times, when the continuing strength of the Nation is so paramount in this task, the responsibility that rests upon the Steelworkers and the steel companies is a heavy one. The American people have a right to expect a measuring up to this responsibility.

Disputes between labor and management must be settled by collective bargaining between the parties. It is only when the national safety and health are imperiled that Federal law should be invoked. All these weeks the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service has been attempting to assist the parties to reach agreement. Secretary Mitchell has made available to the public an assessment of the economic facts bearing upon the dispute. The Secretary's report has demonstrated clearly that there is a reasonable basis for a settlement that will be responsive to the requirements of the public interest as I have previously outlined them in public statements.

This dispute is not a test of power. The people of the United States do not look to the economic strength of either side to govern the settlement. They will be satisfied only by a just settlement, voluntarily arrived at, that will serve the interests of all our citizens.

Half-hearted bargaining is not enough. Intensive, uninterrupted good-faith bargaining, with a will to make a responsible settlement is required. Compromising differences is a process with which I am familiar. I have seen far more difficult problems than the steel dispute resolved in far less time by people who spoke different languages and had diverse backgrounds. Everything in my experience leads me to believe that where there is a will to agree on both sides, there is a way to agree. The Steelworkers and the steel companies must find that way expeditiously.



Note: This is the text of identical letters sent to the following addressees: David McDonald, President, United Steelworkers of America; Roger M. Blough, Chairman of the Board, United States Steel Corporation; Arthur B. Homer, President, Bethlehem Steel Corporation; Charles M. White, Chairman of the Board, Republic Steel Corporation; Avery C. Adams, President and Chairman, Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation; J. L. Mauthe, Chairman of the Board, Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company; Ralph L. Gray, President, Armco Steel Corporation; Thomas E. Millsop, President, Great Lakes Steel Corporation; Jack L. Ashby, President, Kaiser Steel Corporation; Alwin F. Franz, President, Colorado Fuel and Iron Corporation; John L. Neudoerfer, Chairman of the Board, Wheeling Steel Corporation; Edward J. Hanley, President, Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation; Joseph L. Block, Chairman of the Board, Inland Steel Company.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Letter to the President of the United Steelworkers and to Representatives of the Steel Industry. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234189

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