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Share-The-Work Campaign Gets Under Way At Meeting

A movement designed to spread employment, reduce welfare and tax expense, and business, and relieve distress among jobless was launched in Greenfield Wednesday night when 20 local business men and manufacturers attended the opening meeting of the Chamber of Commerce Share-the-Work committee.

Town leaders present heard Charles C. Ramsdell, western Massachusetts director of the movement explain the project then unanimously elected John Smead chairman and Edward Ayer secretary. Smead then appointed a committee of 23 to carry on the work.

Ramsdell, who spent 40 years with the Gilbert and Barker Manufacturing Company, is giving his entire time to the drive. He stated 3,500,000 persons who otherwise would be unemployed are not employed and from 20 to 40 per cent of the men now at work in western Massachusetts are employed as the result of the Share-the-Work campaign.

Shorter Week advocated

As examples of what could be done Ramsdell cited the United Shoe Machinery company, which he said while working on a 44-hour week allows no employe, more than 33 hours a week. In the case of a Worcester manufacturer, Ramsdell said work was spread so that each man on piece work is allowed to earn so much a week, and when he had worked enough for that, he remains home for the rest of the week. The Westinghouse Manufacturing company, Ramsdell said, was about to go on a five-hour day and five-day week in its effort to spread the work.

The object is not to add to the payroll, Ramsdell pointed out, but to spread what payroll there is so that it will go as far as possible and aid in as many families as possible. This, he said, men now employed have shown a willingness to do, sensing the seriousness of the situation and the necessity for action

17,000,000 Jobless in U.S.

There are today in this country between 17,000,000 and 20,000,000 unemployed persons, Ramsdell stated, and business is faced with three choices, either to find jobs, increase contributions to charity, or take care of unemployed through increased taxation. The Share-the-Work movement seeks to find jobs for unemployed, thus relieving taxes.

The Ludlow associates, Ramsdell stated, have taken 200 families off the town welfare, saving the town $60,000 a year, or a half of the total spent for welfare. That similar savings can be made in Greenfield was indicated when John Smead stated that if 50 heads of families were put on the payroll here $50,000 a year could be struck from the town welfare cost, and this would mean one dollar off the tax rate.

Ramsdell admitted the Share-the-Work drive is a plain emergency measure, but he said it was necessary, and quoted Owen D. Young in speaking to backers of the Share-the-Work as saying, "This movement is as sound in your interest and mine as it will prove cheerful and helpful to the fellow now out of a job."

Spreading the Payroll

Important advantages of the campaign the speaker pointed out, are that is puts persons in the spending line instead of the welfare line, that the same payroll spread among more persons will be spread farther and spent more completely, and that spreading the works leads to a feeling of job security.

Ramsdell stressed the point that there is no industry, business or store in which the work can not be shared in order to increase employment, and that a powerful group of the nation's business leaders, backed by the Federal Reserve bank of New York, are working in the campaign. Something must be done, he stated, to relieve distress and to prevent more serious consequences if unemployment in such wide proportions continue much longer.

Those Present

The following is a list of persons present and the industries of businesses they represent: Shepard Raymond, T. Morey and Son; Ivan C. Minott, Minott Printing and Binding company; Roy Martin, Railway Express agency; Harry E. Duren, Greenfield Electric Light and Power company; Franklin Judge and Francis Smith, Greenfield Tap & Die; Frederick E. Hawks, town of Greenfield; George C. Lunt an Denham Lunt, Rogers, Lunt & Bowlen; Philip Rogers, Millers Falls company; Winthrop T. Noyes, B. B. Noyes Company; John B. Smead, First National Bank and Trust Company; Clarence D. Rugg, Rugg Manufacturing company; A. H. Behnke, Production Machinery company; George W. Pillsbury, W. L. Goodnow company; R. Stanley Reid, Wilson Department store; Edward M. Ayer, Chamber of Commerce; Willis H. Weissbrod, Emil Weissbrod & Sons; L. B. Fortin, Greenfield Gas Light company; Herbert R. Smith, Threadwell Tool company; William J. Thompson, Greenfield Steel Stamp Works; George Corsiglia and F. W. Wells.

The committee chosen to direct the local campaign, which will in turn elect an executive committee from its members, is as follows: Harry Duren, L. B. Fortin, George C. Lunt, Charles N. Stoddard, Philip Rogers, Herbert J. Smith, Shepard A. Raymond, John A. Ahern, R. Stanley Reid, George W. Pillsbury, Paul C. Belknap, J. T. Seller, F. E. Hawks, J. D. Abercrombie, Frank Rugg, George V. Corsiglia, F. W. Wells, Willis H. Weissbrod, William I. Howe, George H. Reed, Joseph Chevalier, John W. Smead, and Roy Martin.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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There is currently no available "Beginner" label. The following is the default level label: The Great Depression had reached its most destructive depths by 1933 with somewhere between 17 and 20 million people jobless. The Depression was a nation-wide crisis. With so many unemployed, consumer spending halted, and the national economy collapsed. On a national and local level, governments were faced with a crisis that appeared to have no solutions. Americans were forced to try a range of experiments in order to obtain financial relief for individuals and the community. One such experiment involved "sharing the work". Business and civic leaders in Greenfield, Massachusetts, sought to lessen the hardship by increasing employment through a novel scheme. Employers shortened the work week (or reduced the piece rate) for workers. The remaining hours were worked by those who would otherwise have been unemployed. While the total payroll was not increased, it was re-distributed amongst more workers. As a result of this plan, there would be fewer unemployed and thus fewer families seeking economic relief from the town. The share-the-work campaign was promoted nationally as an emergency measure by many business leaders and even by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. While plans such as this may have had some effects locally, it was not until the United States entered World War II that national spending on the production of military equipment put an end to the Great Depression.


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"Share the Work Campaign Gets Under Way at Meeting" article from the Greenfield Daily Recorder-Gazette Newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Daily Recorder-Gazette
date   Jan 15, 1933
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   10.25"
width   1.75"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L06.008

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See Also...

"Local Council of Unemployed Has 230 Members" article from the Greenfield Daily Recorder-Gazette newspaper

"The Dilemma" political cartoon from the Daily Recorder-Gazette newspaper

Main Street Business Center

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