Public Papers of John F. Kennedy, 1963

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Author: John F. Kennedy  | Date: June 15, 1963

244
Statement by the President Urging Railway Management and Labor To Resume Collective Bargaining.
June 15, 1963

I AM advised by the Secretary of Labor that you have reached no agreement.

The report I have received indicates, beyond this, that there has actually been no real bargaining, in any effective sense, in this case—although it has gone on for almost 3 1/2 years.

This means that in this vitally important case, involving great private interests and with the national welfare at stake, collective bargaining has failed—so far.

It means that in its most vital testing, the procedures established in the Railway Labor Act have failed—so far.

I have supported free collective bargaining as a member of the House of Representatives, as a member of the Senate, and as President. I always will, for I consider it a keystone of private democracy. But it has to work.

I have always supported the Railway Labor Act, and its essential feature of recommendations that are to be the basis for bargaining, although the ultimate decision is up to the parties. I hope to be able to continue to support this act and this principle. But it must work, too.

This case has already dragged on much too long. There has been one postponement of the hour of show-down after another. Only the critical, crucial nature of the basic issues involved—especially the replacement of men by technology—justifies this at all. But there have been two Presidential board recommendations concerning these issues. It should be possible to find a solution which permits the termination of jobs which are not justified and protects the equities of the men involved.

It is clear, at the same time, that the whole future of free collective bargaining, and of the effectiveness of the Railway Labor Act as a supplement to free bargaining, is involved here. If no settlement is reached in this case, there will be no alternative to the enactment of new legislation which will protect the public against a loss of its rail transport. The effect of such legislation on free collective bargaining will be incalculable.

I therefore propose that you make one last major effort to resolve this dispute, not just as parties to this one case, but as stewards of the free bargaining tradition.

I ask that you proceed immediately to the hardest kind of bargaining with the assistance of the Secretary of Labor, Assistant Secretary Reynolds, and the National Mediation Board.

If, by July 10th there has still been no accord reached, I shall ask for an immediate report from the Secretary of Labor and from you on the circumstances of this failure. I shall then make such recommendations to the Congress as these circumstances appear to dictate.

I request that you agree to maintain the status quo to permit the completion of this proposed procedure.

I point out, in conclusion, these plain facts. If this case does have to go to the Congress, it is going to mean, necessarily, the disposition of the disputed issue or issues through some agency other than the parties. There is nothing which legislation can dowhich you are not free to do voluntarily, including the selection of your own special procedures if this is necessary to complete any part of your settlement. If either or both of you should decline to take advantage of this opportunity, the responsibility for what follows will have to be accepted where it lies. I urge you to act, as it is in your power to act, not only to settle this case, but to preserve the freedom of private collective bargaining and the effectiveness of the established statutory procedures.

NOTE: The President read ’the statement at a meeting with representatives of the railroads and the unions at the White House on the morning of June 15.
See also Items 298, 299, 310.

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Chicago: John F. Kennedy, "244 Statement by the President Urging Railway Management and Labor to Resume Collective Bargaining.," Public Papers of John F. Kennedy, 1963 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, John F. Kennedy, 1963 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.899-903 479. Original Sources, accessed September 25, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CQ1IL17NC2QDFMI.

MLA: Kennedy, John F. "244 Statement by the President Urging Railway Management and Labor to Resume Collective Bargaining." Public Papers of John F. Kennedy, 1963, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, John F. Kennedy, 1963 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.899-903, page 479. Original Sources. 25 Sep. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CQ1IL17NC2QDFMI.

Harvard: Kennedy, JF, '244 Statement by the President Urging Railway Management and Labor to Resume Collective Bargaining.' in Public Papers of John F. Kennedy, 1963. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, John F. Kennedy, 1963 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.899-903, pp.479. Original Sources, retrieved 25 September 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CQ1IL17NC2QDFMI.