90 years ago: Richmond builders establish 5 day work week

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90 years ago: Richmond builders establish 5 day work week
A news clipping from the Richmond Record Herald from the 1930s. The Richmond Museum of History is providing free online access to the newspaper from the 1930s as part of a partnership with California Revealed.

Did you know? Ninety years ago, Richmond tradesmen established a 5-day work schedule, replacing their former five days and a half schedule. The move was called “one of the most important steps ever taken by the local council” and followed the precedent set by the San Francisco county building council. The transition to the 5-day work schedule was set to begin Feb. 1, 1930.

How do we know this? We simply perused a fascinating online collection of Richmond Record Herald newspapers from the 1930s. You can digitally flip through newspapers from that decade here. The feature is offered by the Richmond Museum of History & Culture in partnership with California Revealed, a state Library-funded initiative to digitize historically significant history in the state and provide it online.

Just four years earlier, in 1926, the Ford Motor Company made what was then called a groundbreaking decision to adopt a five-day, 8-hour per day work week.

It’s a far cry from the 1880s, when “the typical worker labored ten hours a day six days a week,” according to this study by a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The National Bureau of Economic Research.

In 1920, workers generally labored six days per week, eight hours per day, and by 1940 the typical work schedule was eight hours a day five days a week, the study said.

Text from the article in the Richmond Record Herald on Jan. 18, 1930
HEADLINE: Local Builders Adopt 5 Day Week
Subhead: Plan Not to Raise Wages
Starting Feb. 1, building tradesmen of Richmond will adopt a five-day week schedule, with time and a half for work on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
This was agreed upon by a unanimous vote of the delegates to the Building Trades Council of Contra Costa County last night in the Brotherhood hall.
Labor leaders in Richmond and Contra Costa county have labeled the move as one of the most important steps ever taken by the local council for a number of years….
….The decision of the local council follows a precedent set by the San Francisco county building trades council. Since Jan. 1 skilled workmen in the trans-bay city have been working the five-day week plan.
Oakland followed the lead with an announced that on Feb. 1 building trades men would follow the five day schedule.
Common laborers employed in the building industry will not be affected by the change, it was stated last night. It has been found advantageous to have unskilled laborers work Saturdays to prepare for the skilled workers, it was said.
Under the new plan, building workers will receive their regular daily pay, but will not be paid for Saturday. Time and a half will be paid for overtime work.
As an example, carpenters draw a daily wage of $9. Under the old five and a half day week plan, they received $49.50. Under the new plan they will receive $45 per week. Other workers will be similarly affected.
Those workers affected by the new plan include plumbers, electrical workers, carpenters and other craftsman employed in the building industry.
Martinez, however, will not be affected by the plan at the present time, it was stated last night.