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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Ford Motor Company


The New York Times
April 19, 1914

To Keep Profit-Sharing Jobs Employes Must Raise the Standard of Living.


Workmen Encouraged to Save and Buy Homes of Their Own—School to Teach English.

Special to The New York Times.

DETROIT, April 18.—Squalid tenements and crowded rooming houses are not to be habitations of the $5-a-day employes of the Ford Motor Company.  Henry Ford, wealthy head of the organization, whose philanthropic and sociological experiment produced the $5-a-day men, in an interview that makes it clear that the employes of his company must live in decent homes and desirable surroundings.  Otherwise they will no longer continue Ford $5-a-day men.  Women employes are subject to the same rule.

"We will give every one time to correct his living conditions," said Mr. Ford, "but the tenement and the crowded rooming house must be eliminated.  Men who earn from $5 to $9 a day do not need to have their wives take in boarders.  They should save their share of the profits and invest it in homes or real estate.  They sell their labor to us and we give them a bonus.

"Our lawyers will give each man help that he can be certain is sincere and honest.  We will investigate the land he wishes to buy, to see if the price is right, and will supervise the contract.  Protection is afforded against fraudulent schemers.

"These men of many nations must be taught American ways, the English language, the right way to live.  Married men should keep their households to themselves and their immediate families.  They should not sacrifice family rights, pleasure and comfort by filling their homes with roomers and boarders.

"Single men are also expected to live comfortably and under conditions that make for good manhood and good citizenship.  It would not do for them to waste their share of the profits.  Once they live correctly, breathe the real fresh air of freedom, and see that health and strength are fully conserved, we can make them good citizens.

"We now have forty-five investigators, who are interviewing all of the employes.  Every detail of their living is inquired into.  Our investigators do much more than take names and addresses.  We inquire and learn the nationality, the religion, the bank savings, whether the man owns or is buying property, how he amuses himself, the district he selects to live in—this and much else are tabulated.  Next Summer we should be able to give you tables showing how our employes stack up with one another.

"From the figures so far presented, and none of them are complete, it appears that there are more men 23 years old in our employ than any other age.  Our investigators have found many of the men in deplorable surroundings.  The notice sent to employees will warn those who transgress.

"The investigators have wide latitude.  No red tape behind them.  We found one man, his wife and three children living in four rooms, and there were five ducks in the bath tub—live ducks, too.  He couldn't understand why he was not considered clean.  The investigator rented another flat in a better neighborhood."

Another innovation at the Ford plant will appear Monday, when an English teaching school will be opened, a teacher having been obtained in New York.  The first class will comprise 200 students of eleven nationalities.

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