96 Years Ago: The 8-Hour Workday Comes to Michigan
Eight hours a day, five days a week, wash, rinse, repeat. The 40-hour work week might not be standard for everyone these days, but it is the definition of a standard work week.
That concept was introduced by a famous Michigander 96 years ago on September 25, 1926.
Who Do We Have to Thank for the Eight-Hour Workday?
After perfecting the concept of the assembly line for manufacturing automobiles in Detroit, the idea of the eight-hour workday was introduced by none other than Henry Ford. It was Ford who laid out the plan for employees to work eight hours per day, five days a week in order to keep his workers happy, productive, and loyal.
After introducing the 40-hour work week to factory workers in his automotive plants, Ford extended the policy to office workers the following August.
The founder of the Ford Motor Company had a reputation for treating his workers well and believing in the American family, therefore giving workers two days off per week. A five-day work week had theretofore not been the norm. According to Signalz, Ford's treatment of his employees also served as a means of deterring workers from unionizing.
Raising Wages to $5 Per Day
It may not seem like much today, but Henry Ford is revered for raising factory workers' wages in 1914 from $2.34 per day to $5.00 per day. That rate of pay, considered exceptional in the early 20th century came with conditions. According to a special project published by MSU, workers had to meet the following expectations:
- Abstain from using alcohol,
- Not inflicting physical abuse on family members,
- Not taking in boarders,
- Keeping their homes clean, and
- Making regular contributions to a savings account.
Keep reading to see inside Henry Ford's former Michigan home - It's a true step back in time.