Public Papers

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Establishment of a Presidential Emergency Board To Investigate Railroad Labor Disputes


The President today announced the creation, effective May 5, 1990, of a Presidential emergency board to investigate and report on the disputes between 11 railroad unions and most of the Nation's major railroads.

The creation of this Board, pursuant to section 10 of the Railway Labor Act (45 U.S.C. 160), is necessary to forestall the possibility of a crippling nationwide rail strike. The National Mediation Board has concluded that the situation is extremely critical and that it threatens substantially to interrupt interstate commerce to a degree such as to deprive various sections of the country of essential transportation service.

The Department of Transportation has advised that the railroads move over one-third of all intercity freight traffic, which involves goods valued at more than billion each day. Interruption of rail service could idle nearly 200,000 railroad employees and result within 2 weeks in over 500,000 layoffs in industries served by railroads. A strike could also affect 100,000 commuters and 30,000 intercity travelers each day. The direct costs of a strike could be at least million per day, and the indirect economic costs could be much higher.

In light of the immediate and devastating effects that a nationwide strike in this industry would have on the public, the President concluded that creation of a Presidential emergency board offers the best means of protecting the public interest while the parties continue their efforts to resolve their disputes.