40 Hour Week

This Labor Day I have been thinking about the 40 hour week and will share a few thoughts.

The first is that my great grandfather most probably worked for the first large US company to implement the 40 hour week.

It was 95 years ago that Ford first implemented the 40 hour week.

TipTop Apartments - Ford Motor Factory - TipTop Factory - Omaha, Nebraska - Loft ApartmentsThe Omaha Ford factory was built in 1916 and produced the Model T. In fact, this was the last Ford factory to build the Model T.

Great Grandpa Braman - Wedding Picture 1911 - Ford Motor Company - Old Wedding PicturesIn the 1930 census my great grandfather Harvey I. Braman was living in Omaha and working at an auto plant. We believe that it was at the Ford Motor plant as it was just a few blocks away from where he was a boarder. We still need to do more research. Maybe a historian who knows more about the auto industry in Omaha can provide me with more information.

We do not know when he started working for the auto plant, but based on other life events he may have been working there in 1926.

If so, he may have been working for Ford when the 40 hour week was implemented.

Ernst Abbe Grave, Jena, Germany, Social Reformer, Carl ZeissMy other thoughts have been about Ernst Abbe who researched optimum work times in the 1880’s in Jena, Germany at the Zeiss factory. His research let to him setting a 40 hour work week for Zeiss employees in 1900.

Ernst Abbe, the head of one of the greatest German factories, wrote many years ago that the shortening from nine to eight hours, that is, a cutting-down of more than 10 per cent, did not involve a reduction of the day’s product, but an increase, and that this increase did not result from any supplementary efforts by which the intensity of the work would be reinforced in an unhygienic way. This conviction of Abbe still seems to hold true after millions of experiments over the whole globe.

Hugo Muensterberg

Psychology and Industrial Efficiency – 1913

Carl Zeiss, First Workshop, Old Photograph, Wall ArtAbbe was also known for other social reforms for the Zeiss workers. Before 1900 they had paid vacation, sick leave and other benefits that were not common with other companies.

Carl Zeiss in Jena, Jena, Germany, Zeisswerks, History, TechnologyJust some Labor Day thoughts and some connections to workplace reform.

Steven

This entry was posted in Culture, Family History, Germany, History, Holidays and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to 40 Hour Week

  1. My father knew every shift. At times he worked 16 hours when someone was sick or the product they produced had a time limit to be shipped. The paychecks reflected it.

    On Monday, September 6, 2021, Braman’s Wanderings wrote:

    > vanbraman posted: “This Labor Day I have been thinking about the 40 hour > week and will share a few thoughts. The first is that my great grandfather > most probably worked for the first large US company to implement the 40 > hour week. It was 95 years ago that Ford first i” >

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