Labor Relations and Productivity in the Building Trades

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

XII
Summary and Conclusions

This volume on labor relations and productivity in the construction trades has been written a quarter century after the publication of Industrial Relations in the Building Industry. A comparison of the more significant observations and conclusions in the 1930 survey with the findings presented in this volume may throw considerable light on the success with which the industry has been able to deal with, and adjust itself to, the evolving problems affecting management, the employees, and the consumer.

This is a dynamic industry and the past twenty-five years have exposed it to many striking changes. It has had to brace itself against the consequences of the most widespread economic depression in our history and to the demands of economic recovery toward the end of the 1930's. Its traditional market collapsed at the beginning of the war, in 1941, and with the government as its major customer, the industry had to develop quickly a high degree of mobility in its personnel and labor force and of flexibility of operations. Since the end of the war its manpower and resources have been strained by a building construction boom of unprecedented magnitude. During the same period the construction trades have experienced an increasing number of technological changes in materials and methods. Prefabrication in housebuilding and the application of mass production techniques were undertaken on a considerable scale. Legal changes in the rights of labor organizations and employers challenged the traditional labor relations practices, like the closed shop, long a custom in these trades.

How did the building industry accommodate itself to these new demands of the past quarter century? What progress was made in reducing the waste of seasonal fluctuations in em-

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