Labor Related News: Henry Ford, Scientific Management, & the Haymarket Affair

Henry Ford passed away in April, 1947.  He is credited with using management theories and observation to create more efficient production methods and thereby develop a cheaper automobile, “one available for the masses.”  The Ford Motor Company was established by Henry Ford and Alexander Malcomson in 1903.  Ford hired management consultant, Frederick Winslow Taylor, to help create the assembly line.

taylor
Frederick Winslow Taylor (Google Images.)

Taylor was a business theorist, a mechanical engineer, and a major influencer of the Progressive Era.  Ford used Taylor’s observations to do the following improvements:

1.  Keep large parts stationary and bring small parts to them.

2.  Make laborers stationary and move the body of the car through workstations.

3.  Recalibrate tooling methods.

model T
Model T line (Google Images.)

By 1914, Ford had used these improvements to bring the Model T production time down from approximately 12 hours to just 93 minutes and he successfully captured 50% of the auto market (according to The Saylor Foundation at http://www.saylor.org).

In other labor news, International Workers Day is coming up. It is the first day of May. International Workers Day commemorates the Haymarket Affair in Chicago on May 4, 1886.

This was a protest for worker rights and the establishment of the 8 hour limit on the work day.  A bomb was thrown at the event resulting in the deaths of 7 police officers and 4 civilians with many more wounded.

It would be 52 more years before the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which established minimum wage, overtime pay, and youth employment requirements.  This affected both full and part-time workers in the public as well as private sector.

To read more about U.S. labor laws and their protections, go to the Department of Labor site:

http://www.dol.gov

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