Radio and Television Statement Announcing the Settlement of the Railroad Dispute.
Good evening, my fellow countrymen:
Tonight the Nation can celebrate an agreement that has been reached between the railway companies and the men who operate the trains. This settlement ends 4 1/2 years of conflict and controversy.
I tell you quite frankly there are few events that give me more faith in my country and more pride in the free, collective bargaining process. Both the railway companies and the unions operated in full freedom of spirit.
This agreement proves that dedicated men under the proper leadership can resolve their differences and show the world how the great American free enterprise system works. We are proud of our Government and we are proud of our country.
A great Secretary of Labor, Willard Wirtz, Assistant Secretary Reynolds, National Mediation Board Chairman O'Neill, and two of our country's outstanding labor experts, Theodore Kheel and Dr. George W. Taylor, deserve the applause of the Nation tonight for their day and night efforts over the past several days. One of these men, Dr. Taylor, left his sick wife who had just been operated on that day to come here to the White House to serve in these negotiations.
But it was the railroadmen, the company management, and the union leadership who won this common victory for collective bargaining and for industrial democracy.
The terms of the agreement are just and are fair. They take account of the modernization that is necessary for our railroads to survive and to prosper. They take account of the human needs and the human aspirations which are affected by technological progress.
But most of all, this agreement prevents, we hope for all time, a most crippling and disastrous strike in the railroad industry. This strike, had it occurred as was planned, would have put 6 million workers off of their jobs, would have decreased our gross national product by 13 percent, four times the largest in any postwar recession, and would have forced a rise in prices throughout our country.
I am glad to tell you that all of this is now avoided. Our robust economy can continue its healthy and encouraging forward movement. Business and labor can take new encouragement. All of us can remain optimistic. My heart tonight is filled with the pride that I hope every American must feel.
This agreement is American business and American labor operating at its very best, at the highest levels of public responsibility. This is the face of American industrial democracy that we can proudly show to the entire world, that free enterprise, free collective bargaining, really works in this country, and that the needs and the demands of the people's interest are understood and those needs and those demands come first. for, says the Old Testament, "he that keepeth understanding shall find good."
This is a good day for our country and our system of Government.
Now I take pride in presenting to you Mr. Roy E. Davidson, the Grand Chief of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, who will speak briefly for the Brotherhood.
Mr. Davidson: Mr. President, in accordance with the cooperation and procedures urged by you as well as our recognition of the public interest, we have accepted the suggestions of the mediators for an agreement in principle, subject to the ratifying procedures of the organizations.
While the agreement fails short of satisfying all the important demands of the employees, we recognize that significant gains have been made. Chief among these gains is the reaffirmation of the 100-mile unit of work, wage adjustments for yard employees, paid holidays for all daily rated employees, and expense allowances for road employees required to lay over at away-from-home terminals. These gains are especially noteworthy, in the light of the public relations program carried on against the railroad operating employees.
We are grateful that the President has encouraged collective bargaining to function as one of our free democratic processes. The aid of Dr. George Taylor and Mr. Theodore Kheel, the Secretary of Labor and the Assistant Secretary, and the Chairman of the National Mediation Board was invaluable. The groundwork for collective bargaining in the railroad industry has been reestablished. We hope it will promote true cooperation and meaningful communication between labor and management.
Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, Mr. Davidson.
Now I present Mr. J. E. Wolfe, the Chairman of the National Railway Labor Conference. Mr. Wolfe.
Mr. Wolfe: On behalf of the Nation's railroads, I applaud President Johnson's handling of this dispute. We are deeply grateful for his statesmanship that led to today's settlement which should have a wholesome effect on collective bargaining both in railroading and other industries. The settlement promises to restore the morale of our 700,000 employees to its highest level, and bring a rebirth of the spirit of cooperation between management and union leaders. Thus, the settlement we have made, at President Johnson's request, means a brighter future for America's railroads in an atmosphere of free enterprise.
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much, Mr. Wolfe.
The White House and the President receive in the neighborhood of 100,000 letters per week. The other day I received a letter from a little girl named Cathy May.
Cathy May, tonight I am pleased to tell you that the railroads are going to continue to run without interruption. Cathy May writes me and says:
Dear President Johnson:
I am seven. My grandmother lives in New York. She is coming to see me make my first Holy Communion. Please keep the railroads running so that she can come to see me. Thank you.
CATHY MAY BAKER
Park forest, Illinois
So Cathy's grandmother can now go to see her and all my fellow Americans can be proud that the railroad management and the railroad brotherhoods came, labored, worked, and reasoned together and in the American way found the answer.
I am very indebted to Secretary Wirtz for presiding over these deliberations day and night for many weeks. I am sure that all Americans appreciate the contribution he has made.
Note: The President spoke at 6:55 p.m. at Station WTOP's Broadcast House in Washington, D.C. The remarks were broadcast over the Columbia Broadcasting System.
Lyndon B. Johnson, Radio and Television Statement Announcing the Settlement of the Railroad Dispute. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/239181