Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks to the Members of the President's Advisory Committee on Labor-Management Policy.

January 21, 1964

THIS Committee represents, in my judgment, a most significant institution of Government. This is partly for what it has already accomplished. It is even more for what it promises in the future.

The fact that as President of this country I have immediate access to the counsel of national leaders in the labor-management field--not just as individuals but as a group working together--is a source of great strength to me. I want to use your assistance fully.

I understand that President Kennedy's last request to you was that you again consider the problem of automation and labor displacement. I would like to renew that request--out of respect for him--and out of my own concern with this problem.

I am familiar with the thoughtful report you issued on automation in January of 1962. That report is a magnificent statement of our commitment to economic progress and human dignity.

I am particularly interested in the implications of your conclusion in that report that "the achievement of maximum technological development with adequate safeguards against economic injury to individuals depends upon a combination of private and governmental action, consistent with the principles of the free society."

In that connection, it would be particularly helpful to me if you would undertake a study that emphasizes the impact of automation and technological change on individual workers, unions, and firms, and that considers the problems of adjustment to such change.

First, what will the direct impact on the economy be in the face of past and future trends?

Second, what is being done and what can be done, to meet the impact of automation where it does result in displacement ?

Your study may involve sponsoring of new research, or the gathering of existing knowledge.

It is my hope that your study will result in a report of those practices which you consider most worthy of attention. I would also appreciate any appropriate recommendations for Government action.

In addition to this study there are other aspects of this question of unemployment on which f also need your advice.

In March I will forward the second Presidential Report to the Congress on Manpower. A draft of my message in that report has already been distributed to you and your suggestions for improving it will be much appreciated.

The existence of continued, often inherited, poverty in the midst of a nation enjoying general prosperity is a problem to which both President Kennedy and I have committed the administration.

Plans for action are now being devised.

I wish your immediate comment on one aspect of this problem now. I recently received a very disturbing report from a Cabinet committee regarding the extraordinarily high rejection rate--half for lack of educational attainment--among boys being called for induction into the Army.

Shortly thereafter I ordered the Selective Service System, as a first step, to begin July 1 giving their standard examinations to the unmarried, out-of-school youths, as soon as they are eligible for the draft.

This will enable us to find those boys at age 18, rather than at age 23, or 24, who are deficient mentally or physically and to offer them remedial programs.

The success of this procedure is of great importance, for these rejected today boys are often tomorrow's unemployed. They need our help today, not tomorrow.

Finally, you all know, some firsthand, of the difficulty we face in extending the advancing national prosperity to those geographical areas in the country which have been most sharply hit by economic change.

A Federal-State commission is now preparing recommendations for a special program for Appalachia, the largest and most distressed of these areas.

Your views on this matter would be most helpful.

I note, finally, what I consider the value of the thinking the Committee has developed. I urge your careful nourishing of this process. You are proving that even in the most controversial areas, honest disagreement is most frequently an open door to understanding. This is a terribly important lesson for a free society to keep in mind, and to keep in motion.

Note: The President spoke in the Fish Room at the White House at 10:30 a.m.

The Committee's first report entitled "The Benefits and Problems Incident to Automation and Other Technological Advances" (25 pp. processed) is dated January 11, 1962. See "Public Papers of the Presidents, John F. Kennedy 1962," Item 6.

For the President's report to Congress on manpower utilization, see Item 212.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks to the Members of the President's Advisory Committee on Labor-Management Policy. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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