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Statement on Signing Bill Extending Negotiation Period in the Railway Labor Dispute

May 18, 1971

I am signing this legislation in order to end the current national railroad strike which has resulted in severe hardship to millions of Americans and would, if it continued, sharply curtail the current upturn in the Nation's economy. I fully expect that the striking signalmen and all those who have supported the strike will immediately return to work. I urge the representatives of both the railroads and labor to return to the bargaining table with a clear view of their obligations to the Nation so that this dispute can be settled through the process of free collective bargaining.

It is regrettable that the Congress was forced to act in this matter under the pressures of an existing strike and mounting harm to the Nation. This situation underscores the need for the Congress to consider immediately the permanent legislation which I have twice proposed for resolving such disputes without separate Congressional action in each instance. A pattern of repeated strikes and Congressional reaction to them can only impair free collective bargaining while placing an unnecessary burden on the Nation.

The legislation which I have signed this evening demonstrates that the Congress can act swiftly on matters of grave national concern. The circumstances which gave rise to this legislation indicate that restructuring the legal framework for labor-management relations in the transportation industry is a matter of very high national priority. The need for reform in this area has been evident for some time. Now it is imperative that Congress take action to provide permanent, effective legislation, as I have proposed.

Note: As enacted, the bill (S.J. Res. 100) is Public Law 92-17 (85 Stat. 39).

On the same day, the White Home released the transcript of a news briefing on the bill and the need for permanent legislation by James D. Hodgson, Secretary, and W. J. Usery, Jr., Assistant Secretary for Labor-Management Relations, Department of Labor.

Richard Nixon, Statement on Signing Bill Extending Negotiation Period in the Railway Labor Dispute Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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