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UPI Archives
Tuesday, Jan. 6, 1914

10,000 storm Ford factory seeking work

DETROIT, Mich., Jan. 6, 1914 (UP) -- Ten thousand anxious, determined men, some ragged and unkempt, others seemingly prosperous, this morning fought for places in the line that stretched from the employment window at the Ford Motor Co., in Highland Park, a line that continued for many blocks from the company's factory.

Each man sought to become one of the army of 22,000 workers who will benefit under the $10,000,000 profit-sharing plan made public yesterday by Henry Ford, head of the giant concern, under which, beginning Jan. 13, a proportionate weekly share, practically half the annual profits of the world's biggest auto company, will be added to the salaries of employees.

The formation of the line had started at 3 o'clock this morning, when a small group of the city's unemployed took up their position before the big factory gates to await their opening at 7 o'clock. An hour later several hundred were waiting in the bitter cold. By 6 o'clock the crowd had become a shoving, jostling, mirthless mob of men, each with the sole aim to reach the employment window before all of the 4,000 jobs created by the Ford company's shift from nine to eight-hour day were portioned out.

A squad of half a hundred police maintained a semblance of order.

It was not a new scene to the Ford officials. Each day for three months it has occurred, only on a smaller scale. When first it was called to his attention, Ford determined to seek a remedy.

"There," said Ford this morning, pointing to the struggling mob, "and the chief states we have adopted this plan. We wanted to give employment to more men so we reduced the working from nine hours in two shifts to eight hours in three shifts."

Each man of those who struggled before the factory gates this morning, who is hired by the Ford Co. will be employed at a wage of not less than $5 per day, whether he be floor sweeper, janitor or mechanics' helper. Here before the company's minimum wage had been $2.34. Beginning with next Monday's pay day -- the first in 1914 -- no man in the employment of the Ford Co. over twenty-two years of age will receive less than $5 per day. This means 90 per cent of the 22,000 employees.

James Couzens, secretary-treasurer of the company, who with Ford devised the details of the plan, today made public the motives that caused the seven Ford Co. stockholders to vote to permit their employees to share in approximately one-half of the yearly profits.

"We believe social justice begins at home," Couzens said. "We want those who have helped us to produce this great institution and are helping to maintain it to share our prosperity. Thrift, good service and sobriety will be encouraged and recognized.

"It is our hope to do still better by our employees in the future. We want them to be in reality partners in our enterprise. We do not agree with those employers who declare that 'The movement toward the bettering of society must be universal.' We think that our concern can make a start and create an example for other employers. That is our chief object."

Couzens announced the public would not be expected to pay for the increased wages of the Ford employees and that there would be no increase in the price of the Ford product.

Henry Ford today refused to add his first simple statement explaining his motive for creating the profit-sharing plan, when he said:

"We believe in making 20,000 men prosperous and contented rather than follow the plan of making a few slave drivers in our establishment multi-millionaires."

Copyright 2007 by United Press International.