The American Federation of Labor: History, Policies, and Prospects


The American Federation of Labor represents the most significant organized effort of American wage earners to supply an answer to the question of the worker's place in the national economy. This question, which is the essence of the so-called labor problem, is a summation of the numerous problems arising from the three major processes involved in the worker's economic function. The first of these processes -- the finding of a place in production and determining the physical conditions under which work should be carried on -- raises problems of vocational guidance, training for a job, enforcing safety and sanitation in the shop, reducing fatigue, and others similar in character.

The second process concerned with obtaining a share of the product commensurate with the worker's effort, gives rise to questions of methods of wage payment, hours of work, adequate living standards, minimum wage legislation, security and steadiness of income, efficiency schemes, morale and good-will of workers, and many related ones. The third process, consisting of the effort to mold the social environment for the purpose of helping the worker solve the problems referred to above, leads to questions of collective versus individual bargaining, social insurance, child labor legislation, the need or desirability for radical changes in economic and social institutions, and the relative value of various methods for achieving such purposes.

It is part of the dynamics of modern industrialism that the employer-employee relationship based on private property and individual responsibility brings into life . . .

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Washington, DC
Publication year:
  • 1933


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