Labor Relations and Productivity in the Building Trades

By William Haber; Harold M. Levinson | Go to book overview

I
Introduction

At the close of World War II, the housing problem in the United States suddenly assumed critical proportions. A greatly accelerated rate of family formation during and after the war, aggravated by the mounting numbers of demobilized servicemen, created a vast need for housing facilities. Furthermore, a substantial accumulation of personal savings during the war, together with easy credit terms under the FHA program and the GI Bill of Rights, enabled many people to translate this need into effective demand. On the supply side, however, the shortage growing out of the low volume of residential construction during the depression decade had been made even greater by the sharp wartime curtailment of building operations.

As public interest in the problem grew and demands for action increased, attention inevitably turned to the producer of shelter, the building industry. As had often occurred in the past, its ills and shortcomings were subjected to public and to legislative scrutiny.1 Once again, the roles of the various participants in the building process--labor, management, finan

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1
The building industry has been the subject of numerous public investigations and hearings. During the 1920's many of the public inquiries were concerned with alleged abuses, restrictive practices, and collusion. Perhaps the most revealing and sensational were the investigations of graft and corruption in the New York building industry conducted by the Lockwood Committee in 1921, and the Dailey Commission's study of similar conditions in Chicago in the same year. See William Haber, Industrial Relations in the Building Industry ( Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1930), pp. 212, 321, 365, 368. In more recent years, special inquiry has also been made into various aspects of the industry's practices by the Temporary National Economic Committee and the Joint Committee on Housing. See U. S. Cong., Temporary Nat. Econ. Committee, 76th Cong., 1st Sess., Investigation of Concentration of Economic Power, Pt. 2, The Construction Industry ( Washington, D. C., 1940) and U. S. Cong., Joint Comm. on Housing, 80th Cong., 1st Sess., Study and Investigation of Housing ( Washington, D. C., 1948).

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