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Piecework

PIECEWORK

PIECEWORK is a system of labor in which payment is based on the actual number of pieces produced rather

than hours worked, regardless of how long it takes. Piece-work has had a place in many societies. In ancient systems, laborers bartered their amount of production for an amount of payment—often in the form of food. In England, prior to the Industrial Revolution, the textile industry relied on work done in homes on a piecework basis. In America, similar systems began in homes and with the use of convict labor and then became an established method of payment used in factory labor.

Advocates of the piecework system say that the hardest and most able workers are rewarded for their results while others are compensated fairly. Those opposed to piecework consider it an abusive and unnecessarily competitive system in which workers toil for long hours without adequate compensation and in which inferior products are produced as quantity is stressed over quality.

According to a 1949 amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, pieceworkers must be paid at least minimum wage. This law, however, is not absolute and many workers still earn significantly less than the minimum wage. Labor advocates have long been opposed to piecework. In his 1906 novel, The Jungle, about the working conditions in the Chicago stockyards, Upton Sinclair described a common abuse of the system

In piecework they would reduce the time, requiring the same work in a shorter time, and paying the same wages; and then, after the workers had accustomed themselves to this new speed, they would reduce the rate of payment to correspond with the reduction in time! (Ch. 11, pg. 1)

Although the piecework system has been employed in a variety of types of factory and sweatshop labor, it is commonly associated with the textile industry. Piecework is also commonly employed by technology industries.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dubofsky, Melvyn, and Foster R. Dulles. Labor in America: A History. Wheeling, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, 1999.

Gorn, Elliott J. Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001.

Rutherford, F. James, and A. Ahlgren. Science for All Americans. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. New York: Signet Classic, 2001.

DeirdreSheets

See alsoTextiles .

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"Piecework." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Nov. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Piecework." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved November 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/piecework

piecework

piecework, work for which the laborer is paid on the basis of the amount of work done. The system is best adapted to standardized operations in which quantity is preferred to quality. Its advocates maintain that it pays the worker according to his ability. Its opponents argue that it tends to pay the best worker what he would receive on a time basis, while other workers receive less than they would by the hour and that it forces the pace of work. In the United States the 1949 amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act in effect required that pieceworkers be paid at least the minimum wage.

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"piecework." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Nov. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"piecework." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved November 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/piecework

piecework

piece·work / ˈpēsˌwərk/ • n. work paid for according to the amount produced. DERIVATIVES: piece·work·er n.

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"piecework." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Nov. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"piecework." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/piecework-0

"piecework." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved November 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/piecework-0

piecework

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"piecework." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Nov. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"piecework." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/piecework

"piecework." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved November 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/piecework