July 22, 1982
The President announced today that he has established, effective July 21, 1982, Presidential Emergency Board No. 195, to investigate and make recommendations for settlement of a current dispute between the United Transportation Union (UTU) and most of the Nation's major railroads represented by the National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC).
The President, by Executive order, is establishing the Emergency Board on the recommendation of the National Mediation Board. The UTU has identified nine of the largest railroads in the United States as strike targets. In response to this action, the carriers countered that operations would cease on nonstruck railroads. A nationwide railroad strike was therefore impending for July 30, 1982.
A strike by the UTU threatens substantially to interrupt interstate commerce to a degree such as to deprive a section of the country of essential transportation service. Carriers represented by NRLC operate approximately 90 percent of total U.S. railroad trackage and serve all of the contiguous States except Rhode Island. Last year, railroads carried 38 percent of all intercity freight, and their share of this market has increased in recent years. A strike would have a severe impact on movement of Department of Defense material, coal, winter wheat, and intercity rail passengers, among other things.
Consequently, the President invoked the emergency board procedures of the Railway Labor Act, which in part provide that the Board will report its findings and recommendations for settlement to the President within 30 days from the date of its creation. The parties must then consider the recommendations of the Emergency Board and endeavor to resolve their differences without engaging in self-help during a subsequent 30-day period.