Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President on Labor-Management Relations.

January 02, 1964

THE SECRETARY of Labor reported to me today that this country has experienced an unparalleled era of industrial peace during the past 4 years. This is a most important and gratifying comment on the condition of labor-management relations in the United States. It is an indication of a growing maturity and responsibility in the collective bargaining process.

Secretary Wirtz has informed me that since 1960 we have experienced a sustained low level of strike activity unmatched in any comparable peacetime period. Fewer workers have been idled by strikes than during any comparable time since the war. More importantly, time lost due to strikes since 1960 has accounted for a lower percentage of all working time than during any comparable peacetime period since the depression--0.17 percent in 1960, 0.14 percent in 1961, 0.16 percent in 1962, and 0.15 percent in 1963.

The year 1963 itself established some important records. There were 200,000 fewer people made idle by strikes beginning in 1963 than in any year since World War II. The favorable strike record since 1960 is attributable to the lessening frequency and impact of large strikes, and in 1963 this trend continued as major strikes, involving 10,000 or more workers, reached their lowest postwar point, with strike idleness from this group amounting to only a 10th of the total for the year.

This record illustrates how far industrial democracy has advanced in this country in recent years.

I know of no better confirmation of the vitality, the strength, and the promise of the free enterprise system than that shown by the ability of labor and management to work out their destinies in a free and peaceful manner.

This progress, this record of achievement, does not mean that complex problems do not still exist on the industrial relations scene. While labor and management have, on the whole, come to grips successfully with the question of wages and hours and working conditions, they have still to improve the machinery for meeting the challenge presented by today's technology.

Employers, faced with competitive urgencies, rightly seek to adopt manpower-saving advances when they will assist them in meeting the needs of the market; unions, faced with the threat of jobs lost through automation, rightly seek to protect the interests of the workers by providing security against human displacement.

While these divergent motivations sometimes have resulted in strikes and shutdowns, more and more the parties are discovering that accord is attainable when there is genuine desire to achieve it.

The record tells us this is so and provides reasonable grounds for hope that the achievements will continue.

Note: The statement and the Secretary's report, in the form of a letter dated December 31, 1963, were released at Austin, Tex.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President on Labor-Management Relations. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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