Monday, November 24, 2008

2.5. Million Jobs I

Today, I'm posting the first installment of a four-part serialization of an article from the 1962 AFL-CIO newsletter, The American Federationist. See also Unions, Unemployment and Shorter Hours.

From: AFL-CIO American Federationist | November 1962, pp. 19-21.

Most opposition to the idea of attacking unemployment by shortening the workweek without loss of pay is based on the view that other policies are more efficient or otherwise more desirable ways of meeting the unemployment problem.
The case for shorter hours does not rest on the notion it is the best way. It is based rather on the view, supported by ample evidence in the past decade of mounting unemployment, that: (1) other economic measures to achieve full employment are not being applied and perhaps cannot be applied; and (2) even if other economic policies are successful in stimulating greater growth in the period ahead, the rate of advance in technology and other labor-displacing changes is gathering such momentum that, unless part of the gains in efficiency are distributed in reductions in hours, it is virtually inevitable that it will show up in persistent and increased unemployment.

Organized labor has not made shorter hours its first choice in the campaign against unemployment. Its first choice has been to apply its most vigorous efforts, all through the last decade, for a range of other public and private actions to stimulate a more rapid rate of economic growth. Shortening of hours has been discussed periodically but a major drive has been held off as a "last resort."

Unemployment has been mounting steadily and is threatening to increase further because of automation and other technological innovations and because of the increased rate of labor force expansion due in the mid-1960s as postwar babies enter the job market. The economic programs relied on thus far to expand economic growth and job opportunities have been inadequate. Additional programs discussed as preferable to shorter hours -- most notably tax reduction, reform of the tax structure, marked expansion in public investment and an eased monetary policy -- are not being put into effect. To oppose hours reduction on the ground that other approaches are sounder and then to fail to apply them is not an acceptable course of action.

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