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Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill To Avert the Nationwide Railroad Shutdown.

August 28, 1963

ON July 22d, because of a breakdown of collective bargaining in the railroad industry, it became necessary to advise the Congress that its action was needed to prevent a nationwide railroad shutdown that would cripple the economy. By its Joint Resolution, adopted almost unanimously in both houses, the Congress has now eliminated this threat and reaffirmed the essential priority of the public interest over any narrower interest.

The hard question has been how this result could be accomplished without weakening, for the future, the structure of collective bargaining. The virtual unanimity of the votes on this Joint Resolution, by Members of Congress completely committed to the preservation of private freedoms, is the firmest assurance that free collective bargaining is not being eroded.

The Resolution is based on the actions taken by the parties themselves. They moved toward settlement of their controversy even while the legislation was being considered by the Congress. The carriers and the unions agreed, on August 16th, through the Secretary of Labor, that the two central issues in dispute should be submitted to arbitration. Unfortunately, they were unable to agree on arbitration terms or the handling of the other issues. Yet, incomplete as this agreement was, it has permitted the Congress to confine its actions to implementing, in effect, what is essentially a private and voluntary decision.

Representations by the parties that resolution of these two key issues will clear the way for settlement of the remaining differences by good faith collective bargaining warrants Congress' decision to rely upon this procedure.

With the conviction that it represents the exercise of responsibility and restraint which are together the essential qualities of government in a democracy, I approve this Joint Resolution.

Note: As enacted, the bill (S.J. Res. 102) is Public Law 88-108 (77 Stat. 132).

John F. Kennedy, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill To Avert the Nationwide Railroad Shutdown. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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