Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Televised Statement by the President Announcing Settlement of the Steel Dispute.

September 03, 1965

My fellow Americans:

The representatives of labor and management in the steel industry have reached essential agreement.

After the details are worked out, including some noneconomic issues, and once the agreement has been ratified by the union wage policy board and the company presidents, the danger of a steel strike will be gone.

We can now say tonight with confidence that the grim threat of thousands of men out of work, of idle plants, of declining production for our economy and declining prosperity for our people--that threat has been met head-on, and has been overcome.

All America is grateful to these men that you see beside me: Mr. Cooper, and the representatives of the steel companies; and Mr. Abel, and the representatives of the steelworkers.

They bargained hard. They represented their interests with great skill and conviction-but they always put the interest of their Nation first. To them, the welfare of the American people, the needs of freedom in Viet-Nam and in every continent, took precedence over any other consideration or interest or desire.

And so they worked long and sleepless hours--not so the union would win, not so the companies would win--but so their country would win.

And the American Nation has won.

The settlement is a fair one. It is designed to prevent the inflation which would damage our Nation's prosperity. It is also within the guiding spirit of free collective bargaining in a free country.

Management and labor have fought many battles in the long history of American industry; yet tonight, I believe that most Americans share my own view--that cooperation and mutual trust bring greater rewards than unreasoning hostility and distrust.

Ever since the first day that I became President of this country I have asked labor and management to work together with me to try to enrich the lives of all Americans. I am glad to report to the American people that they have never let me down. They have fully responded.

Companies and unions alike have come here to the White House to discuss their problems openly and honestly and to seek solutions. After almost 8 months of negotiations the men of the steel industry did the same.

When I received a report from my mediators, Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon and Governor LeRoy Collins, Under Secretary of Commerce, I requested an extension of negotiations last Monday. Both sides agreed. In a week they were here in Washington working, and at the end of that week they have found a solution.

The members of the union wage policy committee from all over this Nation will soon be gathering in Pittsburgh, and I hope and I expect that they will swiftly ratify this agreement.

And then they can continue the job of making the steel on which American abundance and power, on which the prosperity of our people and the prospect of freedom so largely rest.

I cannot praise too highly the quality of work and the patience and the skill given in these meetings by Secretary Connor and Secretary Wirtz. They never slept, and they never lost heart or purpose. This Nation is truly in their debt.

What does this settlement mean?

To the steelworkers it means continued uninterrupted work. It means a steadily improving life for all the families of these steelworkers.

To the steel companies, it means continued production and growth and reasonable profits.

To the American people, it means a continued rise in the production which is the greatest foundation upon which this Nation is based. It means abundance in our history.

To the world, it is another proof that the home of liberty is mighty and it is founded upon the rock of conviction.

To our soldiers out tonight in the jungles of Viet-Nam it means a continued uninterrupted flow of the goods that are so essential to freedom and to his life, and even more, the assurance that those at home will never forget his sacrifice in the pursuit of their narrow and selfish ends.

The steel industry is a great industry. It has raised great cities, it has brought forth abundance beyond belief. It has forged the weapons of war as well as the products of peace. Its achievements are the marvel and the model of all the world. But I believe that in all of its long history it has never had a prouder moment than this.

And so tonight I am going to leave the White House and go away to the hills of home, with my heart full of gratitude for the great progress that a united America has made this week.

Thank all of you.

Note: The President spoke at 6:30 p.m. in the White House Theater. In his statement he referred to R. Conrad Cooper, Executive Vice President of the United States Steel Corp., I. W. Abel, President of the United Steelworkers of America, Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, Under Secretary of Commerce LeRoy Collins, former Governor of Florida, Secretary of Commerce John T. Connor, and Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Televised Statement by the President Announcing Settlement of the Steel Dispute. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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