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Remarks About the Resignation of George Meany From the Pay Board

March 23, 1972

Ladies and gentlemen:

At the conclusion of my statement, Mr. Ziegler will issue a longer, written statement, and also an Executive order [11660] that I have just signed after meeting with the Cost of Living Council.

When I announced our new economic policy on August 15 of last year, I said that fighting inflation must be everybody's job. Yesterday, George Meany walked off the job. The decision to walk out came after the ruling on the longshoremen's contract.

While other American workers are being held to a 5 1/2 percent wage increase, the Pay Board ruled against a 20 percent wage increase for the longshoremen. Mr. Meany supported the increase. The Pay Board was right. Mr. Meany was wrong.

I respect Mr. Meany as a powerful spokesman for the Nation's largest union organization, the AFL-CIO. But only 17 percent of America's 80 million wage earners belong to the AFL-CIO. It is my responsibility to act and speak for all the people, and I shall meet that responsibility.

As President, I cannot permit any leader representing a special interest, no matter how powerful, to torpedo and sink a program which is needed to protect the public interest. Consequently, I have directed the Pay Board to continue, but as a single public unit, with those labor leaders who wisely wish to remain on it balanced by a reduced number of business leaders.

I have directed the Price Commission to proceed on course, working alongside the Pay Board to cut inflation in half by the end of the year.

All rules and regulations remain in full force. All Americans, including particularly the 80 million wage earners in this country, have a stake in winning the fight against inflation. This is a fight to the finish, and, with the support of the American people, we shall win it.

Note: The President spoke at 4:05 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House. He spoke without referring to notes.

Richard Nixon, Remarks About the Resignation of George Meany From the Pay Board Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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