Harry S. Truman 1946 Typed Letter Signed as President – Long Island Railroad Union Content


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33rd President.  Typed letter signed “Harry S. Truman” AS PRESIDENT, September 5, 1946, 8×10.5, The White House Washington stationery, to Frank M. Swacker, appointing him a board member to investigate a dispute between the Long Island Railroad and its employees, in full:

You are hereby designated and appointed, under authority conferred by the Railway Labor Act, as a member of an emergency board created by executive order of the President dated August 22, 1946, to investigate and report to me respecting the dispute existing between the Long Island Railroad Company and certain of its employees, and you are hereby especially authorized to act in conformity with law and my executive order.

The Board will organize and investigate promptly the facts as to such dispute, and on the basis of facts developed, make every effort to adjust the dispute and report thereon to me within thirty days from date of the executive order.

You will be compensated at the rate of seventy-five dollars per day for each day actually engaged in the performance of your duties or in travel in connection therewith and allowed six dollars per diem in lieu of subsistence while so employed.”

In May 1946, President Truman, acting under his war powers, seized the railroads as a means of dealing with a nationwide strike by engineers and trainmen that paralyzed the railroads for two days. Similar threats to strike by other major union groups brought similar seizures by the government in 1948 and 1950. The one in 1950 lasted 21 months. In 1951 Congress amended the 1934 Railway Labor Act by removing the requirement of union membership in order to hold a railroad job, thereby permitting union shop negotiations.

Swacker would serve as Chairman of the 3-man Board appointed by Truman.  They released a report to President Truman on October 11, 1946 as part of their role “to investigate an unadjusted dispute concerning rates of pay and working rules involving the Long Island Railroad Company and Trainmen represented by Railroad Workers Industrial Union, Division of District 50, United Mine Workers of America.”  The Emergency Board was able to help avert a strike.