Wage Concessions by Trade Unions

February 17, 1932

Report Outline
One-Year Reduction in Wages of Railroad Labor
Trends of Union Wage Rates and Trade Disputes, 1921–31
Pre-Depression Reductions in Miners' Wages
Wage Reductions During 1930–32 Depression
Wage Rates, Unemployment, and the Cost of Living
Special Focus

One-Year Reduction in Wages of Railroad Labor

Acceptance by the twenty standard railroad unions of a 10 per cent “deduction” from the wages of their members for a period of one year, beginning February 1, 1932, has been followed by a widespread movement among employers of union labor for a general downward revision of union wage rates. Reductions of the wages of unorganized labor and of clerical workers have been in progress for eighteen months or more. Impetus was given the wage reduction movement in “open shop” industries five months ago by the announcement of the United States Steel Corporation that the wage rates of its employees would be lowered by 10 per cent on October 1, 1931. This action was followed by corresponding, or larger, reductions in the copper, aluminum, rubber, electrical and other large-scale industries, so that unorganized labor in these industries has suffered a general reduction of at least 10 per cent.

The agreement reached at Chicago, January 31, 1932, between the railroads and their unionized employees, was not the first in which trade unionists have accepted cuts in pay, but it is the most important to date because of the nation-wide scale of its application. Under the Chicago agreement basic, rates of wages are to remain unchanged, but the railroads are authorized to deduct ten per cent from all wage payments for a period of one year, and they, on their part, are to do all in their power to “maintain and increase railroad employment.” In agreeing to this arrangement, D. B. Robertson, chairman of the Railway Labor Executives' Association, said the unions were influenced by—

  1. A desire to do all within their power to aid in lifting the nation out of the worst depression of business we have ever experienced.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Labor Unions
Aug. 07, 2015  Unions at a Crossroads
Sep. 02, 2005  Labor Unions' Future Updated
Jun. 28, 1996  Labor Movement's Future
Jun. 14, 1985  Organized Labor in the 1980s
Nov. 06, 1981  Labor Under Siege
Mar. 24, 1978  Labor's Southern Strategy
Aug. 20, 1976  Labor's Options
Oct. 27, 1971  Organized Labor After the Freeze
Oct. 19, 1966  Labor Strife and the Public Interest
Jan. 30, 1963  Strike Action and the Law
Sep. 20, 1961  Conflicts in Organized Labor
Aug. 04, 1960  Labor, Management, and the National Interest
Dec. 16, 1959  Future of Free Collective Bargaining
Nov. 04, 1959  Featherbedding and Union Work Rules
Feb. 18, 1959  Public Intervention in Labor Disputes
Jul. 09, 1958  Suits Against Labor Unions
Nov. 13, 1957  Right-To-Work Laws
Oct. 31, 1956  Union Organizing
May 01, 1954  State Powers in Labor Relations
Oct. 02, 1953  Toward Labor Unity
Apr. 11, 1953  Industry-Wide Bargaining and Industry-Wide Strikes
Sep. 03, 1952  Labor and Politics
Mar. 25, 1950  Labor Injunctions
Jan. 25, 1950  Trade Unions and Productivity
Sep. 26, 1949  Fact-Finding Boards in Labor Disputes
Mar. 05, 1949  Closed Shop
Dec. 01, 1948  Revision of the Taft-Hartley Act
Jan. 01, 1947  Labor Unions, the Public and the Law
Oct. 09, 1946  Revision of the Wagner Act
Sep. 25, 1946  Labor Productivity
May 29, 1946  Labor Organization in the South
Jan. 30, 1946  Compulsory Settlement of Labor Disputes
May 18, 1945  Labor Policy After the War
Mar. 29, 1945  Union Maintenance
Feb. 02, 1945  Labor Relations in Coal Mining
Oct. 12, 1944  No-Strike Pledge
Sep. 16, 1944  Political Action by Organized Labor
May 30, 1944  Unionization of Foremen
Apr. 01, 1944  Dismissal Pay
Apr. 29, 1943  Labor in Government
Apr. 09, 1943  Public Regulation of Trade Unions
Nov. 19, 1941  Labor Policies of the Roosevelt Administration
Oct. 23, 1941  Closed Shop Issue in Labor Relations
Mar. 29, 1941  Labor as Partner in Production
Feb. 12, 1941  Labor and the Defense Program
Feb. 23, 1940  Labor in Politics
Jan. 17, 1939  Settlement of Disputes Between Labor Unions
Jul. 01, 1938  Three Years of National Labor Relations Act
Nov. 12, 1937  State Regulation of Labor Relations
Jul. 10, 1937  Restrictions on the Right to Strike
Apr. 28, 1937  The Labor Market and the Unemployed
Mar. 26, 1937  Control of the Sit-Down Strike
Mar. 13, 1937  Collective Bargaining in the Soft-Coal Industry
Jan. 22, 1937  Responsibility of Labor Unions
Nov. 11, 1936  Industrial Unionism and the A.F. of L.
Jul. 30, 1936  Federal Intervention in Labor Disputes
Jul. 14, 1936  Labor Relations in the Steel Industry
Apr. 17, 1934  Company Unions and Collective Bargaining
Feb. 07, 1934  Settlement of Labor Disputes
Sep. 12, 1933  Trade Unionism Under the Recovery Program
Feb. 17, 1932  Wage Concessions by Trade Unions
Oct. 01, 1929  Status of the American Labor Movement
Jul. 20, 1929  Trade Unionism in the South
Aug. 31, 1928  Organized Labor in National Politics
Feb. 04, 1928  The Use of Injunctions in Labor Disputes
Sep. 09, 1927  Organized Labor and the Works Council Movement
Oct. 12, 1923  The A.F. of L. and the “New Radicalism”
Economic Crises
Unions and Labor-Management Relations