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Nixon & Shultz on Unions and Planning for Phase II Wage Controls

White House tapes: President Nixon and Office of Management and Budget Director George Shultz discuss planning for Phase II wage controls. Wage and price controls were imposed in mid-August 1971 in the form of a Phase I 90-day wage-price freeze. These two conversations revolve around the prospects for cooperation with Phase II wage controls from organized labor. Phase II on the wage side involved formation of a Pay Board consisting of five members from management, labor, and the public. Nixon wants to appear publicly tough on labor -- particularly AFL-CIO president George Meany -- but at the same time is afraid that if labor won't cooperate, the program will fall apart. Thus, he is also open to concessions to union demands. He doesn't want to appear to "cave in to Meany" but indicates that the administration really has no practical sanctions other than a public relations campaign against Meany and the other unions involved if they don't cooperate. The first conversation occurred on Sept. 23, 1971. The excerpt here has Nixon asking Shultz whether Leonard Woodcock (president of the Auto Workers) and Meany have to be handled with "kid gloves." The second conversation about whether the administration should "take on Meany" occurred on Nov. 2, 1971.
Length: 10:35

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