Saturday, May 14, 2016

How markets and competition - not unions - created better working conditions and higher wages

The ideas of weekends, 8 hour work days, a "living wage" and 5 day, 40 hour work weeks are ones we have Henry Ford to thank (in order to compete for the best workers at the time) - not unions.

Personally, I've always been a big believer in free association and have no issues with the formation of unions. I question though the monopoly they generally demand and wonder if they are an anachronism today. But maybe they always were (theFederalistPapers):

On this day in 1926, Ford Motor Company becomes one of the first companies in America to adopt a five-day, 40-hour week for workers in its automotive factories. The policy would be extended to Ford’s office workers the following August.Henry Ford’s Detroit-based automobile company had broken ground in its labor policies before.

In early 1914, against a backdrop of widespread unemployment and increasing labor unrest, Ford announced that it would pay its male factory workers a minimum wage of $5 per eight-hour day, upped from a previous rate of $2.34 for nine hours (the policy was adopted for female workers in 1916).

The news shocked many in the industry–at the time, $5 per day was nearly double what the average auto worker made–but turned out to be a stroke of brilliance, immediately boosting productivity along the assembly line and building a sense of company loyalty and pride among Ford’s workers.

The decision to reduce the workweek from six to five days had originally been made in 1922. According to an article published in The New York Times that March, Edsel Ford, Henry’s son and the company’s president, explained that “Every man needs more than one day a week for rest and recreation….The Ford Company always has sought to promote [an] ideal home life for its employees.

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