What's up? Unemployment is up. What to do about it?
Samuel Gompers said, in 1887, "The answer to all opponents to the reduction of the hours of labor could well be given in these words: 'That so long as there is one man who seeks employment and cannot obtain it, the hours of labor are too long.'"
In 1932, President William Green of the A. F. of L., "estimated that if the hours actually being worked at the present time were distributed on the basis of thirty hours a week among the working population the 12,000,000 now unemployed could be put to work."
In 1962, the AFL-CIO Federationist put the case this way:
"There's no question that the long-term salvation of work lies in reducing working hours," said Thomas R. Donahue, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO in 1993.
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.
So today, 2008, with unemployment on the rise, what's the word from the AFL-CIO on shorter hours?