according to the reportand of this I know no counterpartis
an industry where men who are laid off do not know whether they
will ever be rehired. Few workers are actually discharged. When
they are laid off they are told that they will be notified when
they are wanted. There may be no intention of rehiring them
but, according to the evidence in the report, it is very difficult
for the individual worker to find this out except through many
months of application and "many heart-breaking attempts to secure
to see his former foreman or he goes to the employment office
and he is told there is nothing for him at that particular time
but that perhaps there will be in a few weeks or a few months,"
the report states. "He comes back again and again and gets similar
replies. It is only after he sees most of his co-workers rehired
that he finally realizes that he no longer has a job in that
plant. He tries to find out why and he cannot. That is not the
unusual but the usual situation and a situation which needs
We get a
glimpse of the psychological problem of the automobile workers
whose daily wage-earning is a gamble. As he passes into the
plant he sees the long line of men waiting at the gate. There
always seem to be lines at the gate, crowding the employment
office. The man with the o job inside may slow down and the
foreman says: "Step on it. If you don't want the job there are
thousands outside who do. Look out of the window and see the
men waiting in line for your job."
not whether the plants, as a policy, have long lines of applicants
at the employment gate. The effect, as outlined in the report,
is to make those who are employed less sure of their jobs and
so to prod them into the impetus to "step on it" a little harder.
"speed-up" and the large pool of labor go hand in hand is made
clear by the investigators, who point out that the former can
only exist because of the huge available supply of labor through
which "as one man falls by the wayside another is there to take
his place." The point is made that to criticize the "speed-up"
is not to attack efficiency, since with a stable working force
to which the industry was morally and financially responsible
the "speed-up" would be most uneconomical.
connection the story of the Packard Motor Car Company and its
long efforts to eliminate seasonality is recounted. This story
is not a new one to the readers of the Survey Graphic
but it is one that bears repetition. In 1934, 92.8 percent of
its workers were employed at least 40 weeks of the year, while
76.3 percent were employed in 50 or more weeks. The annual earnings
in 1934 of 53 percent of the company's workers exceeded $1200.
The report contrasts this with the showing
of another company which had only 30.6 percent of its workers
employed in 40 weeks and 11.5 percent employed 50 weeks or more,
while 27.4 percent of the workers were employed in less than
14 weeks of the year. The annual earnings of only 23 percent
of the workers employed by this second company in the peak month
were equal to $1200, while 32 percent of its workers earned
less than $400. While hourly earnings were found to be highin
some cases equal to those of 1929annual incomes are low.
payment of higher hourly rates, due to the codes on the one
hand and with the lower average sales price of cars on the other,
parts had to be made better and cheaper. That was accomplished
by improved machinery and equipment, by eliminating or changing
operations and by greater production per hour on the same operations.
No more graphic portrayal of the recent technological developments
and the amazing ability of this ingenious industry to produce
better products for the same dollar expenditure and even for
a less expenditure can be cited than a reference to some illustrations
offered in the report.
body has undergone tremendous changes and with these changes
has come elimination of parts and of labor. Wood, which used
to be a great factor in bodies, is now completely cut out. One
body manufacturer closed his entire wood-mill which employed
3000 men in 1928. Today one company makes an enormous saving
by one-piece stamping of the underbody. In 1929 the following
parts had to be built and assembled for the underbody: 2 sidesills;
2 sidesill extensions; 3 cross sills; 2 front floor-board cleats;
1 front floor board; 1 toe-board set (right and left); 1 front-seat
riser; 2 front-seat-riser corners; 2 front-seat-riser ends;
1 front-seat-riser rear; 1 rear-seat riser; 2 rear-seat-riser
ends; trim stick; 2 rear door-boards; 2 rear floor-board-cleats;
1 rear-seat floor-board.
stamping today it is estimated that 50 hours were saved for
the manufacturing and assembling of the above parts.
a body company has made a one-piece top from a stamping and
has eliminated the building and assembling of 46 separate pieces.