Prices Rise/Labor Disputes

Published: 1966
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI

Duff Thomas: The cost of new cars rose as did the prices of steel and food. Gardner Ackley, Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors made this observation.

Gardner Ackley: "In my view the action of these companies can only be characterized as irresponsible. They were unwilling even to hear the government State the public interest in this matter."

Duff Thomas: Housewives decided something had to be done.

Unknown Speaker: "Due to many requests from all over the country, we have decided to try to organize the housewives nationally, and we’ve had requests from Florida and from Novaskosia, from Canada, from New York on how to organize on what to do about this. We’ve had much, much interest."

Duff Thomas: They began the Peddycord War on high food prices.

Unknown Speaker: "We have said that it is a very good time for a housewife to look for lower prices in many areas as a unified group bound together. We’ll have power and we’ll be able to put the pressure on in Washington or in any facet of the economy, we wish to put the pressure on."

Duff Thomas: Boycotts and picketing became weapons of the housewives’ army as the war gained momentum throughout the nation. In some cities, battles were won and prices were reduced, but overall the merchants proved that cost to them justified the current prices. Clarence Adamy, President of the National Association of Food Chains thought the women were wrong in protesting against supermarkets.

Clarence Adamy: "I do feel they are fearless, trying to be more effective in their protest if they would attack the causes of inflation and that results of the symptoms of inflation."

Duff Thomas: The Johnson administration had problems curbing inflationary trends when it came to settling major labor disputes. The President’s 3.2% wage price guidelines became a thing of the past. As one settlement after another disregarded the suggestion, government officials became more and more concerned over the inflationary trend. There were costly strikes in the transportation and communication industries which attracted nationwide attention.

The year began with a subway and bus strike in New York City which practically crippled the great metropolis for 12 days. In the midst of the strike, Michael Quill, long time leader of the Transport Workers Union and one of the most colorful labor leaders was jailed for violating the court injunction to call up the strike. The tough Irish American said --

Michael Quill: "The judge can drop dead in his black robes, we will not call up the strike."

Duff Thomas: Quill was taken to jail where he suffered a heart-attack. After the strike was settled, Quill made a rapid recovery and was released from custody and the hospital. A second heart attack days later claimed his life.

A strike in the airlines industry crippled domestic and foreign travel for 42 days. Some bitter humor popped up when the walkout occurred, Labor Secretary Willard Wirtz was in Japan, unable to get a plane flight back to Washington to aid in settling the dispute.

Again in New York City, the longest newspaper strike in history resulted in the folding of the Herald Tribune in the formation of a new newspaper, The World Journal Tribune, former Trib owner John Hay Whitney.

John Hay Whitney: "We have a tribune in New York, we will not appear again. I know we gave something good to our city while we published, and I know it will be a loss to journalism in this country as we cease publication."