In the United States the end of World War II was followed by an uneasy transition from war to a peacetime economy. President Truman was faced with the renewal of labor disputes that had remained in a dormant state during the war years, severe shortages in housing and consumer products, and widespread dissatisfaction with inflation, which at one point rose by 6% in a single month. In this polarized environment, a wave of strikes destabilized major industries, and Truman's response to them was generally seen as ineffective. In the spring of 1946, a national railway strike, which had never happened in the country, led virtually all passengers and their luggage to remain at a standstill for over a month. When the railway workers and coal miners turned down a proposed settlement, Truman seized control of the railways and threatened to deal with the issue of striking workers with use of the armed forces. While delivering a speech before Congress requesting authority for this plan, Truman received the news that the strike had been settled.
In the 1950s the administration of President Truman experienced additional strikes that provoked a number of national crises. The steel strike of 1952 was organized by the United Steel Workers of America against the steel industry. The strike was set to begin on April 9, 1952, but Truman nationalized the American steel industry hours before it began. In response to bitter disagreements over wage and price controls between the union membership and leadership, Truman instructed his Secretary of Commerce, Charles W. Sawyer, to take control of a number of steel mills. Truman cited his authority as Commander in Chief and the need to maintain an uninterrupted supply of steel for munitions for use in the Korean War. The Supreme Court found Truman's actions unconstitutional and reversed the order in a major separation of powers, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer. The 6-3 decision stated that Truman's assertion of authority was too vague and was not rooted in congressional legislative action.