Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) On April 10, 1962, President John F. Kennedy was informed that United States Steel Corporation was raising prices across-the-board to $6 a ton.
The news came on the heels of a successful brokerage of a settlement between US Steel and the steelworkers union just four days earlier. Chairman Roger Blough* gave the unwelcome news to the President.
The price hike represented an increase of 3.5 per cent and The Christian-Science Monitor wrote..."Big Steel chose to deliberately antagonize the President."
Before his intercession between labor and management, JFK had been told by the Council of Economic Advisers that an increase in steel prices would be "the greatest single threat" to economic stability.
The President had been successful in convincing steelworkers that it would be in their best interest and that of the country for them to accept arbitration on their recent contract.
In light of the union's support, President Kennedy was furious when he learned of the price hike by US Steel. JFK felt he had been "double-crossed" by the steel company. The President commented privately...
"My father always told me that all businessmen were SOBs, but I never believed it until now."
The Steel Crisis of 1962 was resolved on April 13, 1962 when United States Steel announced it was rescinding the price hike. Mainstream commentators of the time expressed support for President Kennedy's response to the crisis.
*Roger M. Blough (1904-1985) attended Susquehanna University & was chairman of the board & CEO of USS 1955-1969.
"The Steel Crisis of 1962," by Rex Bradford, September 2, 2008, www.maryferrell.org/