Coal, Wages, Prices, and Profits
The final decision of the Supreme Court in the case of United States v. United Mine Workers of America is expected to precipitate a new crisis in the coal industry, regardless of whether the Court holds for the government or for the miners' organization. John L. Lewis has not withdrawn his demands for revision of the present contract between the government and the U. M. W. His back-to-work order of Dec. 7, 1946, ending a 17-day soft coal strike, runs only “until 12:00 o'clock midnight, March 31, 1947,” by which time, presumably, the Court will have ruled on the validity of the government's injunction and contempt proceedings.
If the Court decides in favor of the miners, there is every indication that they will quit work on Apr. 1, unless a new contract has been signed meanwhile either with the government or with the private operators. If the government's contentions are upheld, Lewis will presumably bow temporarily to the anti-strike injunction, for he has said he would act “within the limitations of the findings of the Supreme Court.” But the President's proclamation of Dec. 31, 1946, declaring hostilities in World War II at an end, means that the government must return the mines to their private owners within six months, under the terms of the War Labor Disputes Act, and the injunction will then cease to have any effect.
Congress may extend the seizure provision of the War Labor Disputes Act, but the government is anxious to relinquish the control over the soft coal industry, which it has now held since May 22, 1946, and pressure is being exerted to get the Miners and private operators to agree on a new contract as a preliminary to returning the mines.