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Public Intervention in Labor Disputes

February 18, 1959

Report Outline
Nation-Wide Strikes and the Public Need
Public Control of Emergency Disputes
Proposals for Additional Controls

Nation-Wide Strikes and the Public Need

Possibility of Steel and Rail Strikes in 1959

The Question of how far the federal government should go in controlling the collective bargaining process is likely to come up for renewed debate in the next few months. A rash of airline strikes at the end of last year, coupled with a labor dispute that shut down New York City's newspapers for 19 days, gave fresh notice of the fact that labor-management conflicts can inflict heavy penalties on large segments of the population. Members of Congress, the Department of Labor, the press, and numerous private citizens already are sorting through the familiar pile of remedies in search of one that will protect the public against strike emergencies without unduly restricting free bargaining.

Although it would not be the first time that such a debate has got under way and then been dropped, there is one good reason why the current discussion is apt to become lively. Present labor contracts for more than 550,000 steel workers are scheduled to expire on June 30, and contracts for a million railroad workers on Oct. 31. A general walkout in either of those key industries would make the problem of so-called emergency labor disputes of immediate concern.

President's Call on Labor to Temper Demands

Steel and railroad negotiators are certain to be reminded by the press and others of words which President Eisenhower included in his Economic Report on Jan. 20. The President warned then that lack of “self-discipline and restraint” in actions affecting wages and prices would lead to “either inflation, which would … work hardships on millions of Americans, or controls, which are alien to our traditional way of life.” Labor leaders were told that “the great power lodged in their hands” gave them “a particularly critical role to play” in the general effort to achieve “economic growth with stable prices.” The Chief Executive cautioned against seeking “increases in money wages and other compensation not justified by the productivity performance of the economy” such increases, he said, were “inevitably inflationary [and] in the end self-defeating.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Labor Unions
Sep. 02, 2005  Labor Unions' FutureUpdated
Jun. 28, 1996  Labor Movement's Future
Jun. 14, 1985  Organized Labor in the 1980s
Nov. 06, 1981  Labor Under Siege
Mar. 24, 1978  Labor's Southern Strategy
Aug. 20, 1976  Labor's Options
Oct. 27, 1971  Organized Labor After the Freeze
Oct. 19, 1966  Labor Strife and the Public Interest
Jan. 30, 1963  Strike Action and the Law
Sep. 20, 1961  Conflicts in Organized Labor
Aug. 04, 1960  Labor, Management, and the National Interest
Dec. 16, 1959  Future of Free Collective Bargaining
Nov. 04, 1959  Featherbedding and Union Work Rules
Feb. 18, 1959  Public Intervention in Labor Disputes
Jul. 09, 1958  Suits Against Labor Unions
Nov. 13, 1957  Right-To-Work Laws
Oct. 31, 1956  Union Organizing
May 01, 1954  State Powers in Labor Relations
Oct. 02, 1953  Toward Labor Unity
Apr. 11, 1953  Industry-Wide Bargaining and Industry-Wide Strikes
Sep. 03, 1952  Labor and Politics
Mar. 25, 1950  Labor Injunctions
Jan. 25, 1950  Trade Unions and Productivity
Sep. 26, 1949  Fact-Finding Boards in Labor Disputes
Mar. 05, 1949  Closed Shop
Dec. 01, 1948  Revision of the Taft-Hartley Act
Jan. 01, 1947  Labor Unions, the Public and the Law
Oct. 09, 1946  Revision of the Wagner Act
Sep. 25, 1946  Labor Productivity
May 29, 1946  Labor Organization in the South
Jan. 30, 1946  Compulsory Settlement of Labor Disputes
May 18, 1945  Labor Policy After the War
Mar. 29, 1945  Union Maintenance
Feb. 02, 1945  Labor Relations in Coal Mining
Oct. 12, 1944  No-Strike Pledge
Sep. 16, 1944  Political Action by Organized Labor
May 30, 1944  Unionization of Foremen
Apr. 01, 1944  Dismissal Pay
Apr. 29, 1943  Labor in Government
Apr. 09, 1943  Public Regulation of Trade Unions
Nov. 19, 1941  Labor Policies of the Roosevelt Administration
Oct. 23, 1941  Closed Shop Issue in Labor Relations
Mar. 29, 1941  Labor as Partner in Production
Feb. 12, 1941  Labor and the Defense Program
Feb. 23, 1940  Labor in Politics
Jan. 17, 1939  Settlement of Disputes Between Labor Unions
Jul. 01, 1938  Three Years of National Labor Relations Act
Nov. 12, 1937  State Regulation of Labor Relations
Jul. 10, 1937  Restrictions on the Right to Strike
Apr. 28, 1937  The Labor Market and the Unemployed
Mar. 26, 1937  Control of the Sit-Down Strike
Mar. 13, 1937  Collective Bargaining in the Soft-Coal Industry
Jan. 22, 1937  Responsibility of Labor Unions
Nov. 11, 1936  Industrial Unionism and the A.F. of L.
Jul. 30, 1936  Federal Intervention in Labor Disputes
Jul. 14, 1936  Labor Relations in the Steel Industry
Apr. 17, 1934  Company Unions and Collective Bargaining
Feb. 07, 1934  Settlement of Labor Disputes
Sep. 12, 1933  Trade Unionism Under the Recovery Program
Feb. 17, 1932  Wage Concessions by Trade Unions
Oct. 01, 1929  Status of the American Labor Movement
Jul. 20, 1929  Trade Unionism in the South
Aug. 31, 1928  Organized Labor in National Politics
Feb. 04, 1928  The Use of Injunctions in Labor Disputes
Sep. 09, 1927  Organized Labor and the Works Council Movement
Oct. 12, 1923  The A.F. of L. and the “New Radicalism”
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Unions and Labor-Management Relations
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