The American Work Ethic and the Changing Work Force: An Historical Perspective

By Herbert Applebaum | Go to book overview

18
SKILLED AND CRAFT WORKERS
IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
The 1995 Statistical Abstract of the United States shows that the total number of skilled workers rose from 12,328,000 to 13,489,000 between 1983 and 1994. Skilled workers numbered three million in 1900, six million in 1940, nine million in 1960 and eleven million in 1970.Skilled workers, craft workers, and foremen have composed a remarkably stable component of the labor force--10 percent in 1900, 14 percent in 1950, 12 percent in 1990, and 10 percent in 1994. The building trades constitute the largest single portion of skilled labor in the United States. Skilled workers in industrial settings include tool-and-die makers, machinists, pattern makers, printers, upholsterers, cabinet makers, clothing cutters, furriers, jewelers, clock makers, glass blowers, engravers, and others. In transportation, railroad engineers may be considered skilled workers. Other skilled workers include mechanics, repairmen, technicians, weavers, chefs, wood carvers, coppersmiths, and artists.
CRAFT WORK ETHIC
The work ethic of craftspersons and skilled workers includes the following elements:
1. A sense of accomplishment and craft pride in the work performed
2. Exercising control over entry into the skill or craft through unions and organizations, based on the premise that it is a privilege to practice a craft, a privilege that must be earned through apprenticeship, training, and education
3. Quality of workmanship
4. Honesty in dealing with customers, suppliers, employers, and employees

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