THE SHORTER WORKWEEK

THE PRACTICALITY AND PROBABILITY OF REDUCED WORKING HOURS IS STUDIED AND THE GENERAL VIEWS OF LABOR, INDUSTRY AND GOVERNMENT ARE PRESENTED. THE ECONOMIC ARGUMENTS ARE SCRUTINIZED IN DETAIL AND OTHER ASPECTS SUCH AS WORKERS' VIEWPOINTS, THE WAYS OF INSTITUTING SUCH A PROGRAM, AND ALTERNATIVES TO THE PROPOSED PLAN ARE CONSIDERED. LABOR IS CLEARLY IN FAVOR OF THE SHORTER WORKWEEK WHICH IT SEES AS A PARTIAL SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM OF UNEMPLOYMENT. LABOR BELIEVES THE LATTER TO BE CAUSED BY THE ONRUSH OF AUTOMATION AND THE ENTRANCE INTO THE LABOR FORCE OF MILLIONS OF YOUNG WORKERS. THE AFL-CIO LEADERS ARE GEARED TO WINNING A 35-HOUR WEEK OF FIVE DAYS AT 7 HOURS A DAY WITH THE SAME WEEKLY PAY AS THAT EARNED IN 40 HOURS, AND WITH DOUBLE TIME AS PREMIUM PAY FOR HOURS WORKED BEYOND 35. THE GOVERNMENT (IN THE 60'S), HOWEVER, BELIEVES THAT A SHORTER WORKWEEK WILL DESTROY RATHER THAN CREATE JOBS AS A RESULT OF ITS IMPACT ON COSTS AND PRICES. THE ECONOMISTS DO NOT AGREE WITH LABOR'S VIEW AS TO THE CAUSE OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND TO THE REMEDY IT RECOMMENDS. THE INITIAL HOURLY WAGE INCREASE THAT WOULD BE NECESSARY TO MAINTAIN WEEKLY PAY AT THE 40-HOUR LEVEL MAY LEAD TO INCREASED UNEMPLOYMENT. LABOR LEADERS POINT OUT THAT THE MAJORITY OF ECONOMISTS HAVE OFTEN BEEN WRONG. LABOR ARGUES THAT SHORTER HOURS WILL INCREASE PURCHASING POWER AND THEREFORE THE NUMBER OF JOBS, AND THAT ANY INCREASED COSTS CAN BE ABSORBED BY REDUCING PROFIT MARGINS. MOONLIGHTING AND THE ENTRY INTO THE WORK FORCE OF SECONDARY WORKERS COULD DEFEAT THE PURPOSE OF INSTITUTING SHORTER WORK HOURS. A SURVEY OF WORKERS IN THE OIL, CHEMICAL AND ATOMIC WORKERS INTERNATION UNION REVEALED A PREFERENCE FOR FEWER DAYS PER WEEK RATHER THAN FOR A REDUCTION IN DAILY HOURS. ALTERNATIVES SUCH AS MORE PAID HOLIDAYS, LONGER VACATIONS, SABBATIC LEAVE AND THE INSTITUTION OF A FLEXIBLE ADJUSTMENT OF WORKWEEK ARE CONSIDERED. THE 40-HOUR WORKWEEK WOULD BE APPLIED AS A STANDARD WHEN FULL EMPLOYMENT EXISTED, BUT BE REDUCED WHEN UNEMPLOYMENT ROSE ABOVE SOME SPECIFIC MINIMUM. THE SOCIOLOGICAL AND ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS OF THE REDUCTION OF WORKING TIME AND THE INCREASE OF LEISURE TIME IS DISCUSSED, AS IS ALSO, THE NEED FOR ENHANCING THE VALUE OF WORK.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Cornell University

    New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations
    Ithaca, NY  USA  14850
  • Authors:
    • Greenbaum, M L
  • Publication Date: 1963-6

Media Info

  • Features: References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 52 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00200651
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 20 1974 12:00AM