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Telegram to Labor and Management Leaders in the Communications Industry Urging a 60-Day Truce.

February 22, 1950

CYRUS S. CHING, Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, has reported to me the status of the disputes between communications workers of America, CIO, and important units of the Ball System which operate our nationwide network of telephone communications. Mr. Ching informs me that insufficient progress has been made to date in the negotiations between the parties to give reasonable promise of settlement of these disputes prior to February 24, or to give assurance of uninterrupted telephone service after that date. I need hardly describe or emphasize the great damage to the public interest and welfare which would result if these disputes are not settled by agreement.

I feel very strongly that employers engaged in the operation of public utilities and unions representing their workers have a special and extraordinary responsibility to settle their differences by agreement and without resort to economic action which may deprive the public of the benefits of essential services. The discharge of this obligation requires that in good faith, such employers and unions canvass and weigh most thoroughly all demands and counter-offers which are made in their bargaining sessions and that they consider exhaustively all possibilities for a peaceful resolution of the issues in dispute.

In many of the negotiations in progress in the current telephone disputes there has dearly been insufficient time for adequate and full consideration of their respective positions. The parties have a duty to continue their efforts to work out a peaceful solution through the bargaining process. The special obligation and duty which applies to public utilities and the unions with which they deal cannot be satisfactorily discharged by them in the face of the impending February 24 deadline.

Accordingly, I am requesting the parties to continue work and operations, without any interruption of telephone communications in the Nation, under the wages, terms and conditions now in effect, for a period of 60 days from February 24, 1950. During that period, with the active assistance of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, they should earnestly seek to resolve the current disputes through collective bargaining. Compliance with this request by the parties will demonstrate a proper regard for the public interest and welfare.

I would appreciate your advising me of your acceptance.


Note: This is the text of identical telegrams sent to 44 management and labor leaders in the communications industry. Some 40 replies, agreeing to the President's request for a truce, are on file in the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Mo.

Labor unrest continued throughout most of 1950 and did not fully terminate until November 19, 1950. On that date the Communications Workers of America signed a 15-month pact with the Western Electric Co. and the Michigan Bell Telephone Co., affiliates of the American Telephone and Telegraph Co.

Harry S Truman, Telegram to Labor and Management Leaders in the Communications Industry Urging a 60-Day Truce. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230691

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