Skip to comments.This Day In History: Truman orders Army to seize control of railroads
Posted on 08/26/2012 1:50:07 PM PDT by JerseyanExile
On this day in 1950, in anticipation of a crippling strike by railroad workers, President Harry S. Truman issues an executive order putting America's railroads under the control of the U.S. Army, as of August 27, at 4:00 pm.
Truman had already intervened in another railway dispute when union employees of the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee Railway Company threatened to strike in 1948. This time, however, Truman's intervention was critical, as he had just ordered American troops into a war against North Korean communist forces in June. Since much of America's economic and defense infrastructure was dependent upon the smooth functioning of the railroads, the 1950 strike proposed by two enormous labor organizations, the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen and the Order of Railway Conductors, posed an even greater threat. In July, Truman ordered the formation of an emergency board to negotiate a settlement between the railroad unions and owners. The unions ultimately rejected the board's recommendations and, by August 25, seemed determined to carry out the strike.
In a public statement that day, Truman insisted that "governmental seizure [of the railroads] is imperative" for the protection of American citizens as well as "essential to the national defense and security of the Nation." He used the same justification for seizing control of steel plants when the United Steel Workers union struck later in the year.
The railroad strike lasted for 21 months. Finally, in May 1952, the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, the Order of Railway Conductors and another union, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, accepted the Truman administration's terms and went back to work.
Unions have done such great work for the country.
Now we just bail them out...And the Unions keep smiling. Thank you Obama....You friggin’ communist.
For an encore, Truman attempted to nationalize and seize the steel industry. How that bolshevik got an aircraft carrier named after him is beyond me.
It's hard to argue that this is unfair, when you consider that the railroad industry would be non-existent today without massive government intervention and support in the latter decades of the 19th Century.
Nowadays, the U.S. government simply calls up a company like KBR, Halliburton, Blackwater, etc. and pays them a fortune to "just get it done" ... whatever "it" happens to be at any given time.
yeah, unions are a cancer, the thing of it is, there are other jobs, supposedly. If you don’t want what is offered get out and let someone else work. I think the NFL referees are crying because they were so stupid. They are obviously replaceable.
It's not hard to argue at all. It's unfair, period.
What happened a century or more ago has no bearing on what goes on today.
And isn't it interesting how close we came to Communism even as recently as the Truman administration. Can you imagine our outrage if Obama ordered the army to take over the airlines?
Do some research on the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 in West Virginia and see how that ended. All of this laid the foundation for what we know as modern Federal railroad regulations.
Oddly enough, this is also one of the situations where we would do well to allow "international law" to protect the U.S. from its own idiocy. Some of these measures cannot be effectively implemented right now because they would be violations of various free trade agreements between the U.S. and various trading partners.
This isn't just an American thing, either. The Canadian oil industry collapsed in the 1980s after it was taken over by the Trudeau government in an attempt to regulate fuel prices. The North American Free Trade Agreement prevents the Canadian government from doing that today.
OMG!!! And what did the Libs in Ttuman’s party say about this at the time, as the railroads were private, and the railroad workers were not government employees, and by law were not banned from striking, yet Truman acted?
Well, we know the kinds of things they said (and continue to believe) when Reagan fired the striking member’s of PATCO, the Flight Controller’s union - (31 years after Truman’s actions on the railroads) - whose members were Federal government employees (employees of the FAA) and banned by Federal law from striking.
Railroad featherbedding was rampant in those days. Trains regularly had 5 man crews, even if they were only pulling as few as 5-10 cars. (Why did a diesel engine require a fireman, other than as a legacy union slot from the steam engine days?)
Now as few as 2 crewmen handle 100 car trains without difficulty. Anyone seen a caboose lately?
Railroad union luddites were hard to get rid of but doing so saved the American rail system.
President Truman deserves credit for being a REAL fiscal conservative unlike a few of our recent presidents. He raised taxes 3 times to finance the Korean War and defense buildup.
And because of that the federal government had enough revenue to pay for its expenditures and didn’t need to barrow.
Truman deserves credit for several things. Taking over the railroads isn't one of them. As for his being a "REAL fiscal conservative," I'll take your word for it.
The key word there is "interests."
Remember that this was during a time of war and railroads were vital to our industry and agriculture.
The national labor strike scheduled for 28 August 1950 could have potentially crippled our nation.
Truman had to act and he did.
The railroads were returned to private ownership on 23 May 1952.
it would also make sense since the unions were so heavily infultrated by communists in in the 50’s. It would make sense that this was a counterstrike.
Remember the USSR was super involved in all the peacenik groups.
Oh, I understand. But it's also the case that the government had created the situation by granting exceptional power to organized labor and was subsequently caught in its own, shall we say, Marxist trap.
The federal government often had to intercede in disputes between the steel industry and its unions -- also because of government policies. The gradual implosion of unionized labor is one of the few bright spots in the economy these days.