Shorter Hours of Work

June 13, 1962

Report Outline
Union Drive for Shorter Work Week
Progressive Reduction of Working Hours
Unemployment and Length of Work Week

Union Drive for Shorter Work Week

Organized labor, concerned about automation and persistently high unemployment, is putting pressure behind a drive to shorten the standard 40-hour work week. Curtailment of working time is labor's traditional answer to joblessness; almost all progress toward the present eight-hour day and five-day week was made in periods of economic distress. Now labor officials, led by A.F.L.-C.I.O. President George Meany, are reviving the familiar argument that a shorter work week, without loss of take-home pay, would increase employment and mass purchasing power and thereby stimulate the whole economy.

The White House does not share this view. President Kennedy went on record in the 1960 election campaign against shortening the work week, and he has held to that position since he took office. The President nevertheless is fully aware of the need to find “25,000 new jobs every week to take care of those who are displaced by machines and those who are coming into the labor force.” That task, he told reporters at a news conference last Feb. 14, is “the major domestic challenge …of the '60s.”

Spreading Demand for Work Week of 35 Hours

Recent weeks have witnessed a sharp upsurge of demands for shorter working hours. The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, meeting in convention in mid-May, called for provision of a 35-hour week in contracts to be renegotiated next year and in 1964. A fortnight later, on May 29, the convention of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union went on record unanimously for “congressional action to establish a 35-hour week.” And the executive board of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters made the same demand, June 6, as a step toward easing chronic unemployment, which it termed “one of the most serious dilemmas facing this nation.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Work Week
Jun. 12, 1987  Part-Time Work
Feb. 28, 1973  Leisure Business
Apr. 19, 1972  Productivity and the New Work Ethic
Aug. 11, 1971  Four-Day Week
Dec. 09, 1964  Leisure in the Great Society
Jun. 13, 1962  Shorter Hours of Work
Feb. 17, 1960  Sunday Selling
May 08, 1957  Four-Day Week
Dec. 03, 1954  Shorter Work Week
Mar. 05, 1948  Hours of Work and Full Production
Jul. 05, 1944  Hours of Work After the War
Nov. 16, 1942  Hours of Work in Wartime
Jan. 17, 1936  The Thirty-Hour Week
Mar. 10, 1932  The Five-Day Week and the Six-Hour Day
May 23, 1929  The Five-Day Week in Industry
Labor Standards and Practices