September 3, 1965 – President Johnson – The White House Announcement of Settlement of Steel Dispute – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
September 3, 1965 – When a Steel strike threatened to disrupt a fragile American economy, the White House intervened and narrowly averted a potentially protracted and disastrous labor shutdown. President Johnson announced the successful negotiations in a special broadcast on radio and TV:
President Johnson: My fellow Americans:
The representatives of labor and management in the steel industry have reached essential agreement.
After the details are worked out, including some noneconomic issues, and once the agreement has been ratified by the union wage policy board and the company presidents, the danger of a steel strike will be gone.
We can now say tonight with confidence that the grim threat of thousands of men out of work, of idle plants, of declining production for our economy and declining prosperity for our people–that threat has been met head-on, and has been overcome.
All America is grateful to these men that you see beside me: Mr. Cooper, and the representatives of the steel companies; and Mr. Abel, and the representatives of the steelworkers.
They bargained hard. They represented their interests with great skill and conviction-but they always put the interest of their Nation first. To them, the welfare of the American people, the needs of freedom in Viet-Nam and in every continent, took precedence over any other consideration or interest or desire.
And so they worked long and sleepless hours–not so the union would win, not so the companies would win–but so their country would win.
And the American Nation has won.
The settlement is a fair one. It is designed to prevent the inflation which would damage our Nation’s prosperity. It is also within the guiding spirit of free collective bargaining in a free country.
Management and labor have fought many battles in the long history of American industry; yet tonight, I believe that most Americans share my own view–that cooperation and mutual trust bring greater rewards than unreasoning hostility and distrust.
Ever since the first day that I became President of this country I have asked labor and management to work together with me to try to enrich the lives of all Americans. I am glad to report to the American people that they have never let me down. They have fully responded.
Companies and unions alike have come here to the White House to discuss their problems openly and honestly and to seek solutions. After almost 8 months of negotiations the men of the steel industry did the same.
Here the complete address, as it aired live on September 3, 1965.