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Telegram to Labor and Management Leaders Proposing a Plan for Settling the Coal Industry Dispute.

January 31, 1950

SINCE June of 1949 work has been performed by the members of the United Mine Workers of America, and bituminous coal mines have been operated by their owners and operators, only intermittently and without the stabilizing advantages of a labor contract. Many months of bargaining by the representatives of the parties and the efforts of mediation officers of the Government have failed to produce a settlement of their dispute. That dispute visits severe hardship upon the miners and their families and severe economic loss upon those who have invested in bituminous coal mines. The continuous production of an adequate supply of bituminous coal is essential to the economic stability, progress and security of this Nation. Continuing stoppages, restrictions in production and shortages which result from the inability of the parties to settle their dispute are of grave concern to the people of the Nation.

The law places the responsibility for settling management-labor disputes on the parties, not the Federal Government. The Government can give them mediation assistance; but in the final analysis the parties themselves must write their own collective bargaining agreement. Voluntary action, not compulsion, in these matters is not only my personal conviction but the national policy. The Government can no longer stand by, however, and permit the continuance of conditions which have now come to have such a serious effect upon the public interest. Accordingly, I am making the following proposal to the representatives of the parties:

(a) That work be performed and normal production maintained for a period of 70 days beginning February 6 under the terms and conditions last agreed upon by the Union and the employers, excepting as such terms and conditions may be modified by agreement of the parties or by law.

(b) That representatives of the parties appear before and cooperate with a Fact-Finding Board which I shall appoint. This Board would consist of three citizens representing the public, none of them from Government, Industry or Labor. It would be empowered to inquire into any and all facts and circumstances relating to the current dispute. The Board would be requested to make its report, including findings and recommendations, within 60 days after February 6. The recommendations would be addressed to the parties and to the President, outlining the procedures and the grounds for a fair and equitable settlement of the current dispute. Immediately after the publication of the Board's report, representatives of the parties would be called into conference by the Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, who would seek to assist them in resolving their dispute in light of the recommendations or any modification thereof which might be suggested by the parties. The parties or either of them would be free to accept or reject the recommendations of the Board as they see fit.

In making this proposal, I do not wish to interfere with any bargaining conferences that may assist in the settlement of this dispute. I would appreciate your informing me by 12 noon, Saturday, February 4, 1950, if the normal production of coal will be resumed on Monday, February 6, 1950, without reference to this proposal. If production will be so resumed this proposal may be disregarded. If you cannot inform me that normal production will be resumed on Monday without reference to this proposal, I would then want your reply to this proposal by 5 p.m. Saturday, February 4, and I urge your acceptance in the National interest.


Note: This is the text of identical telegrams addressed to the following persons: George H. Love, operators' spokesman for the National Bituminous Wage Conference, and president of the Pittsburgh Consolidation Co.; John L. Lewis, president, United Mine Workers of America; Harry M. Moses, president, H. C. Frick Coal Co.; and Joseph E. Moody, president, Southern Coal Producers Association.

On February 6, 1950, the President signed Executive Order 10106 "Creating a Board of Inquiry to Report on a Labor Dispute Affecting the Bituminous Coal Industry of the United States" (3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 300). The order was issued pursuant to section 206 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947 (Taft-Hartley Act).

On the same day the President appointed the following persons as members of the Board: W. Willard Wirtz, John T. Dunlop, and David L. Cole, chairman. The Board's report, entitled "Report to the President: The Labor Dispute in the Bituminous Coal Industry," was submitted to the President on February 11, 1950 (Government Printing Office: 1950, 8 pp.).
See also Items 35, 49, and 50.

Harry S Truman, Telegram to Labor and Management Leaders Proposing a Plan for Settling the Coal Industry Dispute. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230383

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