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President Calvin Coolidge Thanks Labor Leader John L. Lewis For His Advice on Railroad Rates and Mergers

Calvin Coolidge

Librería: The Raab Collection (Ardmore, PA, Estados Unidos de America)

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In his State of the Union address a week earlier, Coolidge had specified that he wanted the Interstate Commerce Commission to look favorably on railroad consolidationsJohn L. Lewis was President of the United Mine Workers Union, and after the death of Samuel Gompers in December 1924, the most powerful labor leader in the country. He had bolstered this position significantly by supporting Calvin Coolidge in the 1924 presidential election. Considered the nation's most eminent labor Republican, Lewis was appointed to the Advisory Committee of the Republican National Committee. However, by 1926 the coal industry had seen lower production, a decreasing work force, and falling prices. Non-unionized coal mines were squeezing prices tightly, so that in order to compete the union mines were even on occasion losing money on each sale. Union membership dropped, lessening LewisÕ power base. Lewis expected that the Coolidge administration would help the United Mine Workers by adopting policies that would encourage unionization of the mines, slacken the antitrust laws by allowing union mines to share vital information, and by having the Interstate Commerce Commission revise freight rates to favor union mines over non-union. Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover and President Coolidge were unenthused about the prospect of these measures and proved uncooperative.In the mid 1920s, railroads were complaining about insufficient profitability, and some were asking for rate increases as a result. Increased railroad rates meant higher prices for coal shippers. By 1926, it became evident that the most profitable solution for the railroads was consolidation, which would decrease competition but allow the railroads to cut expenses. Proponents claimed that this would result in lower shipping rates, but opponents charged that the decrease in competition would, in time, inevitably result in higher rates. President Coolidge was in favor of the railroad mergers. On December 7, 1926, he delivered his State of the Union address to Congress, saying: ÒActing upon my recommendation, the Congress has ordered the Interstate Commerce Commission to investigate the freight-rate structure, directing that such changes shall be made in freight rates as will promote freedom of movement of agricultural products. Railroad consolidation which I am advocating would also result in a situation where rates could be made more advantageousÉÓJust a week after Coolidge set out his policy to Congress of having the Interstate Commerce Commission look into freight rates, and freight carrier mergers, both of which would directly impact on the costs of shipping coal and also potentially effect his union, Lewis sent a telegram to Coolidge stating his unionÕs position. This is CoolidgeÕs response. Typed letter signed, on White House letterhead, Washington, December 16, 1926, to Lewis. ÒI have received the telegram signed by yourself as President and by Vice-President Murray of the United Mine Workers of America concerning the Interstate Commerce Commission and thank you for wiring me the views of your organization in this matter. They will have my careful consideration.ÓThis reply was rather formulaic and almost seems dismissive, hardly what one would expect from a political ally. The ill fortunes of the union, and Lewis, at this moment apparently led the Coolidge administration to feel it no longer had to show deference to Lewis. N° de ref. de la librería 10447

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Título: President Calvin Coolidge Thanks Labor ...

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The Raab Collection buys and sells rare important historical documents, bring to its endeavors a passion not only for the manuscript but the history behind it. We've built important historical collections for institutions and historical enthusiasts. Our pieces have found homes in many major institutions devoted to preserving history.

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