Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972; Acheson, Dean, 1893-1971; Vinson, Fred M., 1890-1953; Wallace, Henry A. (Henry Agard), 1888-1965; Anderson, Clinton Presba, 1895-1975; Clark, Tom C. (Tom Campbell), 1899-1977; Burke, Edward R. (Edward Raymond), 1880-1968; Snyd
Cabinet meetings; Food aid; Food relief; Industrial relations; Strikes and lockouts; Labor leaders

Cabinet Meeting Minutes, May 17, 1946. Matthew J. Connelly Papers - Notes on Cabinet Meetings I.

CABINET MEETING, MAY 17, 1946

THE PRESIDENT

Stated that he has requested Russia to participate in the food relief program. He is optimistic that there may be some favorable reaction from Russia to his request.

SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE ANDERSON

Feels that something should be done in supplying some trucks to Siam. He said that there is considerable supply of rice in Siam and he believes it would be helpful if the Philippines would trade surplus trucks now in the Philippine Islands for rice in Siam. This would be mutually beneficial.

ACTING SECRETARY OF STATE ACHESON

The situation in Siam is better than Acheson had been led to believe. This government has established credits for Siam and trucks are already moving to Siam from the Philippines.

THE PRESIDENT

Lewis had informed him that there might not be a strike. Edward Burke representing the operators, had said that a strike did not look imminent. This was some time back. Lewis later came in to see the President, and repeated the same story. Lewis then procrastinated on putting demands up to the operators. Lewis then failed to make any demands. Burke then delivered alternative and Lewis in turn did likewise. During the past week Lewis and O'Neill came in to see the President and agreed to further negotiate. The President suggested arbitration. Lewis and O'Neill refused arbitration. The President stated that this leaves him in only one position--to step in and seize the mines. However, he commented that even if we do seize we are no better off or nearer a settlement than we are now. He said he did not look for any help from Congress. He is of the opinion that the operators are stalling with the hope that Congress might approve some drastic anti-labor legislation. The President asked the Cabinet for any constructive suggestions on how to handle the situation. There were none.

JOHN SNYDER

Seizure of the railroads will not be a completely smooth operation. The Office of Defense Transportation will take over with the assistance of the Army.

SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY VINSON

Recommends that the Army take over and operate the railroads. He feels that this would be more advantageous in his opinion. This was based on the performance of the Army when the railroads were seized during the war. He commented that the situation strikes not only at our economy but at our very institutions.

SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE ANDERSON

Believes that the people are expecting vigorous action by the President.

ATTORNEY GENERAL CLARK

Agreed with Secretary Vinson that the operation of the railroads under the Army would be more successful than under the Office of Defense Transportation. Stated that he had experience with New York Tug Boat Strike when the ODT took over and tried to operate the tugboats. Stated that there was procrastination all down the line on the part of the ODT officials. This situation did not occur when the railroads were taken over under Army supervision.

THE PRESIDENT

Again asked for suggestions as to how to cope with the strike situation. There were none.

SECRETARY OF COMMERCE WALLACE

Asked the question is the safety situation of the mines as bad as it has been painted in the press.

THE PRESIDENT

His information is that the situation is as has been reported.

SECRETARY OF COMMERCE WALLACE

Raises suggestion that the administration might propose safety legislation particularly with respect to mines.

THE PRESIDENT

Requires one sentence, "No Coal can move in interstate commerce when safety regulations are not complied with." This sentence was included in proposed legislation in 1935 and both Lewis and the operators had the clause struck out.

SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY VINSON

It has been his experience that the miners are more interested in wages than in anything else.

THE PRESIDENT

Wages have not been discussed with Lewis or the operators. He believes that both can agree on wages. Welfare and safety are the points at issue. However, behind the issue is a grab for power by Lewis to get something that Green and Murray were unable to get during their contract negotiations. He is of the opinion that the operators on the other hand are goading Congress to develop anti-labor punitive legislation as well as the elimination of the Wagner Labor Act.


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