Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972; Clark, Tom C. (Tom Campbell), 1899-1977; Green, William, 1872-1952; Murray, Philip, 1886-1952; Lewis, John Llewellyn, 1880-1969; Anderson, Clinton Presba, 1895-1975; Schwellenbach, Lewis B. (Lewis Baxter), 1894-1948; Forrestal
Cabinet meetings; Industrial relations; Strikes and lockouts; Labor leaders

Cabinet Meeting Minutes, May 10, 1946. Matthew J. Connelly Papers - Notes on Cabinet Meetings I.

CABINET MEETING, MAY 10, 1946

THE PRESIDENT

Asked the Secretary of Labor to discuss the coal strike.

SECRETARY OF LABOR SCHWELLENBACH

Said that every time John L. Lewis struck during the war the government intervened. The conferees now are getting nowhere. Groups on both sides are taking great pleasure out of the present situation. The government is doing everything possible to bring about an agreement. He believes that the time has now come when the President might call in Lewis and the operators and urge them to reach a settlement.

THE PRESIDENT

In commenting on the strike situation, the President recalled that he proposed fact finding to the Congress last December but the Congress has done nothing. Recalled that some time ago John Lewis made the statement to the President that the strike would not last more than a few days. Lewis did not keep his word. Phil Murray of the CIO did not keep his word and even William Green of the AF of L did not keep his word although all promised the same thing and the only difference was that the AF of L situation worked out so that Green did not have to.

The President said he was trying to restore collective bargaining. He stated that during the past ten years Lewis opposed safety features of the union contract. He stated that the irony of the situation is that Lewis is now making safety and welfare the primary issues of this strike.

SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR KRUG

Thinks that the time for the government to act is now. He does not believe that Lewis and the operators are going to get together in the near future. He believes that the government will be forced to propose something which is in keeping with the wage price formula.

SECRETARY OF COMMERCE WALLACE

The government cannot countenance any such fund under the control of Lewis and as an afterthought, said the Democratic Party could not afford to grant such control to Lewis.

THE PRESIDENT

In his opinion granting of such a fund would be contrary to Wagner Act.

SECRETARY OF COMMERCE WALLACE

Suggested that a government supervised insurance fund may be the answer.

SECRETARY OF LABOR SCHWELLENBACH

This strike is not a matter of wages. Lewis wants (1) the acceptance of a welfare fund (2) a royalty on coal to provide the required fund and (3) control of the fund by Lewis exclusively.

POSTMASTER GENERAL HANNEGAN

The public is of the opinion that the administration is letting the coal strike drift. People want to know that the government is on top of the situation.

SECRETARY OF THE NAVY FORRESTAL

There is a danger of unthoughtful legislation penalizing labor unions and this will not work. He believes that unless something is done a swing may be caused to the other side which would be equally bad.

ATTORNEY GENERAL CLARK

If we do not take action quickly he is afraid that bad legislation may be placed on the books. He would like to see the President take some affirmative action.

THE PRESIDENT

Stated that he has been trying to get leaders on both sides to the point where the President can tell them to go back to work or the government will take over.

SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY VINSON

When a wage issue is presented other considerations should be deferred for study by a government board. He is of the opinion that seizure would be welcome by both sides. Further stated that he as a feeling that Lewis knows he has about played out his string.

SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR KRUG

If the President called in Lewis and Charles O'Neill and stated that he has given them every possible help to get them together and would then outline suggestions for a settlement. For example, that Lewis is entitled to wage increase comparable to other settlements in steel. For instance, miners are entitled to welfare fund but a federal board would be created to supervise the fund and to adopt safety measures. If he would then tell them that he is going to take over the mines and then tell the people what was proposed and refused. Krug is of the opinion that this might bring about a settlement.

SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY VINSON

Does not agree that the President should tell Lewis and the operators that he is going to take over the mines.

SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE ANDERSON

Suggested that the President should move and make known that he is determined to reopen the mines.

THE PRESIDENT

Agreed to see Lewis and O'Neill at 4.00 p.m. today. He suggested that Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Labor and Director of OWMR meet with him at 3.00 p.m. to further discuss the meeting.


1   2   3   4