Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972; Schwellenbach, Lewis B. (Lewis Baxter), 1894-1948; Vinson, Fred M., 1890-1953; Hannegan, Robert E. (Robert Emmet), 1903-1949; Patterson, Robert Porter, 1891-1952; Krug, Julius A. (Julius Albert), 1907-1970; Clark, Tom C. (Tom
Cabinet meetings; Railroads; Labor leaders; Strikes and lockouts; Industrial relations

Cabinet Meeting Minutes, May 24, 1946. Matthew J. Connelly Papers - Notes on Cabinet Meetings I.

CABINET MEETING, FRIDAY, MAY 24, 1946

PROPOSED AGENDA

1. Discussion of the strikes

THE PRESIDENT

Asked for suggestions on operation of railroads. There were none.

All concerned in railroad strike agreed to arbitration several months ago. Eighteen brotherhoods and operators have agreed to accept 18½¢ an hour increase and agreed to deferment of rules decision over a period of a year. Two of the brotherhood heads (Whitney and Johnston) refused to waive a discussion of the rules. Then the operators and brotherhoods agreed to resume negotiations on their own. However, these negotiations have now bogged down although they are still going on. The President stated that he has a press conference scheduled and asked for opinion as to whether the conference should be postponed in view of the delicate situation with respect to the railroads.

Secretaries Patterson, Vinson, Clark and Sullivan were of the opinion that the press conference should be postponed.

SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE ANDERSON

Stated that the conference should be held if negotiations are to go forward in several more days.

SECRETARY OF LABOR SCHWELLENBACH

Some action must be taken today. Whatever action is taken is contrary to every belief he has ever had in his life but this thing cannot go on. He stated that the issue should not be brought to the people through the medium of a press conference but by a radio broadcast by the President.

General Fleming, Secretaries Schindler and Krug stated that the press conference should be postponed.

POSTMASTER GENERAL HANNEGAN

Agreed with Schwellenbach that the President should broadcast a message to the people.

SECRETARY OF STATE BYRNES

Discussed the points of conflict between operators and brotherhoods on the question of rules.

THE PRESIDENT

If he had offered l9½¢ instead of 18½¢ we would have coal, steel and auto workers and others coming back for additional raises. They have settled for 18½¢. He stated, however, that if the operators agree to settle for 19½¢ that is a offer made by the operators and not a proposal by the government.

SECRETARY OF STATE BYRNES

The differences have now boiled down to three rules, "Turn around in yards", "In and out", and "Dining car stewards." He stated that no one knows yet how much money is involved in these three rules. However, it is probably more than was first thought.

SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY VINSON

Asked if anything was being done with respect to legislation.

THE PRESIDENT

Legislation will do no good at this point. He must take his case directly to the people and ask for volunteers to take over and operate the railroads.

SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE ANDERSON

People should be told that a statement by the President is coming. He believes that a limit should be set on the time of the negotiations.

THE PRESIDENT

Disagrees with Anderson and stated that the statement should be it.

SECRETARY OF WAR PATTERSON

Suggested a short speech stressing three points: (1) Economic doom. (2) Overseas suffering. (3) Destruction of unions.

SECRETARY OF STATE BYRNES

Warns against overstating the ability of the Army to run the railroads.

JOHN SNYDER

Everything that has happened in the labor picture has worked against little business. If Whitney's demands are met, it will put small roads out of business.

SECRETARY OF INTERIOR KRUG

Discussed the coal strike and stated that he is of the opinion that Lewis is a monopoly in labor and in person. Lewis has finally laid all demands on the table but calls them proposals. Lewis wants a potential of 5 days 8 hours per week with the same pay as 6 days 9 hours per week during the war. Lewis says if government offers 18½¢ an hour, we might as well forget it. The government might offer 48 hours at 18½¢ increase. The plan is to submit government offer to Lewis in writing. Plan should include (1) Safety to be permanently supervised by the Bureau of Mines. (2) A welfare fund (jointly administered). This can't be done with 3% of payroll which stabilization program requires as a limit. If railroad benefits are to be paralleled it would require 8% of the payroll. (3) Unionization of supervisory employees. (Operators do not like this proposal.) Secretary Krug stated that he would hate to see government propose contract terms on this point. (4) On wages, a 6 day week and a 18½¢ basis plus overtime, plus time and a half after 35 hours. Sec. Krug stated that he did not know whether Lewis would accept these terms as Lewis had said a day before that he would not.

UNDER SECRETARY OF NAVY SULLIVAN

Some decision should be made today about demobilization. He sees no point in separating boys from the service if there is a railroad strike and transportation is not available to get them home.

SECRETARY OF WAR PATTERSON

This should not be done alone but as part of overall program.

UNDER SECRETARY OF NAVY SULLIVAN

They should not be dumped into overcrowded ports with the attendant hardships. Personnel should be held to take over job of running railroads and auxiliary means of transportation.

POSTMASTER GENERAL HANNEGAN

Thinks that the President should call in operators and brotherhoods and tell them he is going to the people.

THE PRESIDENT

Called a special meeting to discuss the railroad strike at 3:00 p.m.


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