Harry S. Truman photo

The President's Special News Conference on the Coal Strike

May 16, 1946

THE PRESIDENT. I thought I had better read you a statement on the coal situation. It will be mimeographed and handed to you after I read it.

"Mr. Lewis and Mr. O'Neill came in to see me again at 10 o'clock this morning. They told me that after further consultation with their committees last night, they had come to the conclusion that the negotiations in the coal mine dispute had completely broken down, and that further negotiations would be useless. I therefore proposed arbitration. I asked them to consider this proposal carefully, and report back to me with their decision at 5:30 o'clock this afternoon.

"Some 35 or 40 joint meetings have been held between the operators and the miners, without agreement. The country is in desperate straits as a result of the recent strike of the coal miners. Coal must be gotten out of the ground. The whole life of the Nation has suffered from the coal strike, and will suffer increasingly if there is another stoppage.

"The step I have taken today comes at the end of a long series of efforts to bring about a settlement. These efforts date back to last March. I was informed at the beginning of the negotiations that both the miners and the operators were confident they could settle their dispute among themselves."

They told me that no less than three different times, and emphasized the fact that they would be able to get together. In fact, they assured me that they didn't think there would be a strike at that time.

[Continuing reading]: "From the beginning, however, a Government observer has sat in on the deliberations.

"Since April 1st more than a score of meetings have been held at which Government conciliators presided. All these negotiations have ended in the deadlock reported to me this morning by both parties.

"In the light of this situation, I proposed that the two sides agree to submit their differences to arbitration.

"The basic elements in the plan of arbitration would be as follows:

"1. That the parties agree upon an arbitrator, to hear and pass upon the dispute.

"2. That the miners remain at work during arbitration proceedings.

"Both Mr. Lewis and Mr. O'Neill said they would present the proposal to their respective committees, and come back today, as I requested, at 5:30 this afternoon." That's all.

Q. Mr. President, do you have any-did they indicate that they would accept it?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer for them. They will have to answer at 5:30.

Q. Is it too early, sir, to say what you might do in case they reject it?

THE PRESIDENT. I will take the matter up from there on. I will give them a chance to accept the proposal proposition.

Q. Have you chosen an arbitrator, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no. That is for them to do. If they can't do it, I will propose one. That's all I have.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's sixty-fourth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:40 a.m. on Thursday, May 16, 1946.

Harry S Truman, The President's Special News Conference on the Coal Strike Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231621

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