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A Memo To Readers

THE MONTHLY LABOR REVIEW is interested in receiving, for possible publication, article manuscripts with subject matter relating to the general field of labor, industrial relations, and labor economics. The REVIEW circulates widely among top management and labor executives, in academic circles, and to public officials.

Manuscripts should not exceed 3,000 words and must be objective, well-documented, and of general appeal to subscribers who have broad interests in labor and related subjects.

Manuscripts will be read promptly and authors will receive notice immediately thereafter.

Address manuscripts to

The Editor, Monthly Labor Review

Bureau of Labor Statistics

U. S. Department of Labor

Washington 25, D. C.

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THE AMERICAN WORKER in 1955, viewed from many social and economic perspectives, enjoyed a satisfying year. His wages and their purchasing power were at an alltime high because the number of jobs, overtime work, and wage rates rose, while average consumer prices were unchanged. He also benefited from an extension of paid leisure time and public and private social insurance. Achievement of many of these gains was helped by an alert and active trade union movement; underlying all of them was the continued steady advance of production rates.

For organized workers, the agreements of employers (beginning with a major segment of the automobile industry) to contribute to funds to supplement unemployment insurance benefits were outstanding among the year's accomplishments. The merger of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations was also a signal event, but, coming at the end of the year, its success and benefits could be measured better at the end of 1956. For all workers, the action of Congress in raising the minimum hourly wage required under the Fair Labor Standards Act from 75 cents to $1 was both a paramount achievement and a solid indicator of the state of the economy.

WHILE most of the collective bargaining advances were secured with no strife, industrial relations during the year were punctuated with a number of exceptionally prolonged and bitterly contested strikes in which one or both of the parties believed matters of principle were at stake. These included the strike begun 22 months ago at the Kohler Co. by the CIO Auto Workers and still in progress; the dispute between the Louisville and Nashville Railroad and a group of unions (58 days); the Communications Workers walkout in 13 States against Southern Bell (72 days); the UAW and Perfect Circle (129 days); the Detroit printing trades and Detroit newspaper publishers (settled

in mid-January after 6 weeks); Packinghouse Workers and Godchaux Sugars, Inc. (8 months); and the strike of the former CIO Electrical Workers and other unions against Westinghouse (in progress for 3 months as of mid-January).

Nonoperating railroad employees closed out the year with a negotiated general wage increase of 141⁄2 cents an hour. About 750,000 workers are affected and the increase is retroactive to December 1. In addition, the carriers on March 1 will assume the full cost, estimated at 2 cents an hour additional, of the current health and welfare plan. At the same time, the Conductors and Brakemen secured a 10%1⁄2-cent-an-hour wage increase for about 25,000 workers, plus a differential of 2 percent to protect the conductor-engineer wage relationship. Retroactivity is to October 1.

Practically all business and labor economists who commented at the end of the year predicted continuation of high levels of economic activity and prosperity during 1956. Some pointed to the prospects for another year of stable consumer prices with purchasing power enhanced by the large volume of wage increases negotiated in 1955 but payable this year. (The new $1 hourly minimum wage amendment becomes effective in March.)

The Presidential message to Congress on January 5 contained two especially significant recommendations in the field of labor legislation. "Last year," the President said, "I requested the Congress to broaden the coverage of the minimum wage. I pledge the full resources of the executive branch to assist the Congress in finding ways to attain this goal." In connection with safeguarding pension and welfare funds, subject of considerable investigation and concern during 1955, the President promised to "propose legislation to assure adequate disclosure of the financial affairs of each employee pension and welfare plan and to afford substantial protection to their beneficiaries...."

THE AFL-CIO, at its December merger convention, had unanimously passed a strongly worded resolution in favor of close control of pension and welfare funds, including legislation. Two weeks later its president, George Meany, advocated investment of such funds in union-sponsored housing developments as a measure safeguarding

the money and providing better homes for members. Several unions had previously underwritten such projects and late in December the Hatters announced intention to follow suit.

Canadian labor federations, which step by step have followed the merger movements of the AFL and CIO, have, through the unity committee of the Canadian Trades and Labor Congress and the Canadian Congress of Labor, called a convention in Toronto beginning April 23 to merge the two organizations. The proposed new federation, embracing unions with about 1 million members, will be called the Canadian Labor Congress.

The AFL-CIO designated its 23 organizational regions, the last being Canada. Previously, rosters of permanent committees had been announced for civil rights, international affairs, housing, and ethical practices. Chairmen have been appointed for 10 others. At the individual union level, a call for amalgamation of the three glass unions was made by Lee Minton, president of the Glass Blowers, formerly AFL. From Guy L. Brown, president of the unaffiliated Locomotive Engineers, hitherto critical of the AFL-CIO merger, came a December 22 letter of good wishes to George Meany for its success. The Michigan Federation of Labor and CIO State Industrial Union Council have a 20 member unity committee at work in preparation for their separate conventions next June. Other State organizations in the process of merger are California (predicted for August), Connecticut, Kansas (expected May 12), Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee (joint convention probably in April), Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. The first local unification took place in Danville, Ky. State and local affiliates of the AFL-CIO have 2 years in which to effect


Two loosely federated groups of small independent unions, the National Independent Union Council and Confederated Unions of America, plan to meet in February to essay merger.

A comprehensive analysis of labor union constitutions was issued in mid-December by the National Industrial Conference Board, based on 139 AFL-CIO and 55 nonaffiliated organizations. It covers such matters as local autonomy, strike sanction, voting methods, dues and fees, and

membership eligibility. The NICB is a private research agency whose subscribers, while primarily from business management sources, also include labor unions.

Five precepts by which labor and management could "benefit the entire Nation" were issued late in December by the National Association of Manufacturers. They were: recognition of the rights of individuals to join or refrain from joining unions; protection of this right against violence and reprisals; elimination of restrictions on output and of economic waste; abolition of all forms of private monoply; and abstention from political pressures in labor-management relations.

THE Executive Board of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions met in New York shortly after the AFL-CIO merger convention. Although the board postponed naming a person to fill the important and recently created post of director of organization, it did take positive action on a number of matters of concern to labor internationally: It directed a protest to the International Labor Office, an agency of the United Nations, on the Turkish Government's refusal to permit a Turkish trade union center to join the ICFTU (it also expressed a feeling that the ILO was neglecting African problems); it appropriated $100,000 for the organization of plantation workers; and it issued a warning to its affiliates to avoid sending delegations to Communist-dominated countries. The ICFTU is now composed of 109 labor organizations from 76 countries and represents an estimated 54.5 million workers.

One of the points of interest involving unions outside the United States is the action British trade unions will take to achieve wage demands. Currently unions representing miners, railway men, shipbuilding workers and longshoremen, and chemical and utility workers have entered wage negotiations. Great Britain is already faced with inflationary pressures, one manifestation of which is higher living costs, and some of the demands are expected to be substantial, running between 10 and 15 percent. The Shipbuilding and Engineering unions, bargaining for about 3 million workers, have asked for a 15-percent increase.

Output per Man-Hour products or materials; and the skill, effort, and

in Manufacturing, 1939-47 and 1947-53


EDITOR'S NOTE.-The following article, and the technical note which appears on page 63 of this issue, were condensed from the report on Trends in Output per Man-hour and Man-hours per Unit of Output-Manufacturing, 1939-53, which was recently issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1

PRODUCTIVITY in manufacturing one of the most important sectors of the Nation's economy-is continuing to rise, at least as rapidly as the rate indicated by previous long-term trends, according to a recent study by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the period 1947–53, productivity, or the ratio of output to man-hours worked by production and related workers, increased at an annual rate of from 3.0 to 3.6 percent, depending on which of the 4 measures compiled by BLS is used.

Gains in productivity provide the means for increasing standards of living and leisure time. They also provide the means for lowering costs of production which can, in turn, bring business expansion, lower prices, higher wages, or increased profits, singly or in combination. The achievement of these gains is not automatic; it depends on high levels of employment and continued economic growth.

Productivity is affected not only by the levels of employment and personal consumption, but by the rate of application of new technology, improvements in plant layout, work methods, work flow, material-handling procedures, and other applications of management techniques; changes in volume of production; the development of new

incentive of the work force.

Ideally, it would be desirable to have estimates of output per man-hour for each sector of the economy. The Bureau's choice of manufacturing as the first sector to be studied was predicated on the facts that about 35 percent of all nonagricultural workers are employed in manufacturing, and that in this sector, the most intensive and dynamic applications of technology have occurred in the past, and technological development will probably continue to play an important role in the productivity process. Moreover, many statistical data have been gathered for the manufacturing sector for past periods and, generally, more information is available for this sector than for many others.

The examination and analysis of productivity trends are complicated by the different conceptual approaches that are possible and by deficiencies in the basic data needed for the preparation of productivity indexes. For these reasons, the Bureau has prepared several sets of indexes covering the period 1939-53. Measures for prior years, although not strictly comparable,2 are also presented for purposes of evaluating current trends.

Description of the Indexes

Changes in the amount of labor time required to produce the total manufacturing output, of course, depend largely on changes in the productivity of individual manufacturing establishments. But they also depend on shifts in the relative proportion of output produced in plants at different levels of efficiency, on shifts in the relative importance of industries, and on changes in the amount of materials, including component parts, and purchased services used.

In order to measure the relative influence of these factors, the Bureau has prepared, for the

*Of the Bureau's Division of Productivity and Technological Developments.

1 BLS Report No. 100. (Single copies are furnished without cost upon request to the Bureau's Washington or regional offices.) This study is an extension of the Bureau's previous work in the field of productivity.

• Weights used for 1909–39 are value added, averaged for base year and current year, i. e., "cross-weighted." (See Productivity and Unit Labor Cost in Selected Manufacturing Industries, 1919-40, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1942.) For 1939-53, weights are either current or base year man-hours (for combining industry measures) for physical output series, and current or base year price relationships are used for net output series.

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