Statement on Signing the Bill Providing for the Settlement of the Maine Central Railroad-Portland Terminal Company Labor-Management Dispute

September 30, 1986

I have today signed S.J. Res. 415, legislation that will provide for the settlement of the dispute between the Maine Central Railroad-Portland Terminal Co. and certain of its employees represented by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees. The settlement is consistent with the recommendations of both the Presidential Emergency Board that I established by Executive Order 12557 and the report of the Congressional Advisory Board established by Public Law 99 - 385.

I agree with the remarks of the Members in the House and the Senate who, speaking in favor of passage of this legislation, expressed reluctance to have the Federal Government inject itself into the collective bargaining process. Those Members of Congress noted that throughout the 60-year history of the Railway Labor Act, the Congress has intervened in negotiations between labor and management only in extraordinary cases where a continued, unresolved dispute threatened to deprive the Nation of essential transportation services. Fortunately, such cases have been rare.

Recently, however, the smooth functioning of the Railway Labor Act has been severely upset by Federal court decisions permitting secondary picketing of carriers not directly involved in a particular dispute. The effect of these decisions is to create the potential for a national strike in every dispute between labor and management that is governed by the Railway Labor Act. Secondary picketing is restricted in virtually all other industries under the National Labor Relations Act. The administration is submitting to the Congress legislation that will restore to the Railway Labor Act the same reasonable limitations on secondary activity that apply to workers in other industries under the National Labor Relations Act.

The legislation we will propose is designed to ensure that Federal intervention in the collective bargaining process, as in the measure I have signed today, is once again limited to extraordinary disputes of national significance as has been the case throughout the history of the Railway Labor Act. Until enactment of such legislation, the only alternative to Federal intervention in any number of regional disputes will be to accept in each case the threat of a shutdown of the Nation's rail system. I therefore urge the Congress to give the same speedy and considered attention to that legislation that it so responsibly devoted to the passage of S.J. Res. 415.

Note: S.J. Res. 415, approved September 30, was assigned Public Law No. 99 - 431.