Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

February 01, 1947

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I have an important statement to make to you this morning which I think is one of the most important that I have made in a good while.

You will recall that in my statement of November 9th accompanying the action removing all wage controls and all but a few price controls, I concluded by saying that the responsibility for working out agreements for the adjustment of differences, without interruptions to production, now rested squarely upon labor and management.

I have a joint letter from the Associated General Contractors of America and the Building and Construction Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor. The Associated General Contractors represent management while the Building and Construction Trades Department represents nineteen international unions and approximately two million workers.

The letter encloses an agreement setting up a plan of industrial peace for the construction industry.

Let me read you a few excerpts from the letter.

All these documents are being mimeographed and will be available for you as you go out, in toto.

"We are enclosing a copy of a plan"-this is the quotation from the letter--

"We are enclosing a copy of a plan to provide a National Joint Conference Committee in the building and construction industry for the settlement of any dispute or disagreement which may arise and which is voluntarily submitted to the Committee by mutual agreement of the parties involved in the dispute.

"Having established this voluntary machinery to settle disputes in this important industry without stoppage of work by lockout or strike, our organizations intend to exert every effort to see that these procedures are used wherever possible to settle any dispute that may arise--over the terms of new contracts or over the interpretation of existing agreements.

"This important industry is anxious to accept its responsibility--both labor and management. We will make our contribution toward providing the highest possible measure of industrial peace."

Now you will get the full text of those agreements mimeographed.

In my Message to the Congress on the State of the Union, I said: "We have established a national labor policy in this country based upon free collective bargaining as the process for determining wages and working conditions. This is still the national policy; it should continue to be the national policy." That is the end of the quotation from the message.

The agreement signed by the Associated General Contractors of America and the Building and Construction Trades Department of the A.F. of L. is a significant step forward in industrial relations in this country.

We have had good labor news during the past 10 days. The Steelworkers and the steel producing subsidiaries of the United States Steel Corporation have reached a final agreement on the problem of eliminating wage rate inequities--a highly complicated problem on which they had been working for over 2 years. The same parties have also reached an agreement to postpone the expiration date of their present contract until April 30.

The United States Rubber Company and the rubber workers union of the CIO have also recently reached agreement on a significant contract.

The making of these agreements indicates a widespread willingness to resolve industrial disputes without resort to force. We are moving closer and closer to our ideals of free collective bargaining.

Now for questions, if you have any.

Q. Do you think that may extend into other industries as well--beyond the building trades, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I hope it will--I hope it will.

Q. Mr. President, does that take in the things that you mention, such as jurisdictional strikes--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it takes in all those things. Yes it does.

Q. Secondary boycotts?

THE PRESIDENT. That takes in all those things. I think that you will find the statement has well set out all those things, when you get the mimeographed copies of the complete agreement.

Q. Thank you, Mr. President. [The questioner then started to leave.]

Voices: Wait a minute--wait a minute!

Q. Wait a minute! [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Wait a minute, Bob.1 It's all right, if you want to go. [More laughter]

1 Robert G. Nixon of International News Service.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us anything about this rent situation? Is any penalty to be imposed on General Fleming for having made this--

THE PRESIDENT. There is not. General Fleming stated the case exactly, and General Fleming, I think, is a member of the Government. He stated the case in exactly the truth. That's all there is to it.

Q. Mr. President, had you talked with General Fleming before then ?

THE PRESIDENT. I did not. The only time I saw General Fleming was at the Cabinet meeting, and I did not talk to him then.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, I would like to ask you a question about something you probably don't--aren't aware of, but

THE PRESIDENT. GO ahead.

Q.. you have got yourself into an awful lot of trouble with the cat lovers of America. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. With what?

Q. The cat lovers of America.

THE PRESIDENT, Cat lovers?

Q. Published reports of one of your speeches have been interpreted by all the cat people that terrible--cast terrible aspersions on cats.

THE PRESIDENT. What's that?

Q. I thought you might like to say a kind word for cats. [More laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know what you are talking about.

Q. I think it was your reference to National Cat Week?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, yes. That was at an off-the-record meeting where I read the requests that--if you remember--for all the weeks. Well, one of the requests was for a national cat week, and I thought it was funny !

Q. You are not against cats ?

THE PRESIDENT. No. Neutral. I am neutral on cats. Certain sort of cats that I am against, but they have two legs. [Laughter]

[4.] Q. If we might go back to this

THE PRESIDENT. Sure.

Q. --statement a second, sir, how did it happen that that was announced from the White House?

THE PRESIDENT. Because I thought it was of sufficient importance that it should be announced from the White House.

[5.] Q. Well, Mr. President, are you in another cat fight--you don't mean all two-

legged cats are feminine, do you ?[Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. No indeed! Very small part of them are feminine.

Q. Would you say you are in favor of tom cat week? [More laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. No. I am drawing no line.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, is your stand on rents still the same as it was?

THE PRESIDENT. It is exactly the same as it was on Thursday at the press conference, and if you will get out the record of that press conference, there has been absolutely no change in that stand.

Q. In other words, you don't favor any general increase?

THE PRESIDENT. I certainly do not.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, are you considering a Republican for the Court of Claims vacancy?

THE PRESIDENT. I am considering at least a dozen people. I think three or four of them are Republicans.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, are arrangements being made to evacuate American citizens from Palestine?

THE PRESIDENT. Not that I know of.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, Mr. Stalin was quoted as saying that he called for not only another Big Three conference but several Big Three conferences. Do you agree with that?

THE PRESIDENT. I would be very much pleased to see Mr. Stalin and Mr. Attlee here in Washington. I don't expect to leave the United States to attend the Big Three conference.

Q. Do you think there is need for one now, sir, here?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know of any need for it.

[10.] Q. Have you made a decision on the district attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri ?

THE PRESIDENT. NO, I have not.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, in view of the state visit of the Governor General of Canada, have you any idea of reciprocating by visiting

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I might have. I haven't been invited to go there yet.

Q. You will, now!

[12.] Q. Mr. President, there have been several columnists who have written stories to the effect that you will make no "lameduck" appointments. Is there a policy on your part--

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't inaugurated any policy, but I haven't as yet appointed any so-called "lame ducks."

Q. I thought, Mr. President, that at some one time you had said you wouldn't do that.

THE PRESIDENT. I may have said that to somebody in a private conversation, but I made no public statement Q. I thought you had

THE PRESIDENT. --and I do not expect to make one.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, there was a Time story attributed to White House sources which quoted you as having decided to make a poll of the individual Governors of all States, whenever you were faced with an issue that you considered of national importance.

THE PRESIDENT. I never heard of that before. If it came out of the White House it didn't come from the President. It might have come from some of the "fixtures"-something like that--maybe it was one of the "cooks." [Much laughter, as the President looked in the general direction of the couch ]

[14.] Q. Some days ago, sir, Mr. Ross announced that the White House staff was working on the question of state papers, and at that time it was pointed out that you had some very definite views on official papers and personal papers. I wondered, sir, if you would give us your definition of the distinction between those two ?

THE PRESIDENT. That matter is under consideration. It will be presented to the Congress, at which time you will get my views in toto. I am not ready yet to make an expression.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, have you made any recommendations on the St. Louis airport fight?

THE PRESIDENT. NO, I haven't.

Q. It has been called to your attention?

THE PRESIDENT. It has been called to my attention, yes.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, on your trip to Mexico City, will you make any stops--accept any invitations

THE PRESIDENT. There will be no stops on the trip to Mexico City. There will be one stop coming back and that will be at Baylor.

Q. You will fly all the way? [Laughter]

Q. Are you going to make it in about 8 hours--8 1/2 hours is it to Mexico City?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know what time. I guess you can find out from Hank Myers.

Q. That mean an all-night flight?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know how long it will take.

Q. Have you decided when you leave?

THE PRESIDENT. It hasn't been worked out yet, no.

Q. Mr. President, the Secret Service are reported as worried about your flying. Are you worried?

THE PRESIDENT. NO, it hasn't occurred to me to worry. I like to fly. If your name is up it doesn't make any difference whether you are on a train or anywhere, you will get it anywhere.

[17.] Q. Mr. Churchill has stated in the House of Commons that Britain should withdraw from Palestine unless the United States were willing to share 50-50 on such--

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Churchill is entitled to his opinion. I have no comment on it.

Q. There has been no official communication-

THE PRESIDENT. None whatever.

Q. Mr. President, have you been in touch with the Prime Minister on the Palestine problem?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't hear the question. Will you

Q. I said, sir, have you been in touch with the Prime Minister at all on the Palestine problem?

THE PRESIDENT, No, I have not.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, has the Secret Service indicated to you any worry on your flying?

THE PRESIDENT. No. No, they haven't. They haven't said anything to me about it.

Q. There is a suggestion at the Capitol that instead of building any new airports, that some of the money should be diverted to safety equipment on existing airfields. Do you have any opinion on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no opinion to express on that. We have been trying, ever since I have been in the White House, to get the Congress to inaugurate a policy for air, both national and international, and they have never yet been able to agree on a policy. The policy that is now in effect is one that was made by Executive order. I am hoping that the Congress will inaugurate a policy for air, and of course one of the first things necessary in that policy is safety.

Q. Mr. President, Congressman Bloom wants a separate air safety board. Would that be included

THE PRESIDENT. I don't want to discuss anything of that kind until it is put up to me officially.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's ninety-sixth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:40 a.m. on Saturday, February 1, 1947.

Harry S. Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232295

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