In August 1950, to prevent a pending strike during wartime, President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order directing the U.S. Army to seize control of America’s railroads.
President Truman had previously intervened in post-war labor strikes. This time, however, America was at war and much of its economic and defense infrastructure was dependent upon the smooth functioning of railroads.
In July 1950 settlement recommendations by an emergency board were rejected and, by August 25, a strike seemed imminent.
Truman stated: “…governmental seizure [of the railroads] is imperative for the protection of American citizens as well as essential to the national defense and security of the Nation.”
The railroad strike lasted until May 1952 when the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, the Order of Railway Conductors and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, accepted the administration’s terms and resumed work.