Celebrating 100 years - 45

WORLD

The U.S. stock market crashed in October
1929, ushering in the Great Depression.
In most countries, industrial production
plummeted and construction came to a
standstill.
In the United States, 11,000 banks would
close. One-quarter to one-third of the labor
force-between 13 million and 15 million
workers-would lose their jobs. Nobody
knew the final count, said Howard Zinn
in A People's History of the United States.
From 1930 to 1933, U.S. grain prices fell by
65 percent, forcing many farmers off their
lands. Life got crazy. "Guards with shotguns patroll[ed] the lines so a man might
not pick an orange for a thin child," wrote
John Steinbeck in "The Grapes of Wrath."
Somehow, the wall and ceiling industry survived. In 1931, construction crews
completed the Empire State Building. In
1933, Americans got a "New Deal" from
President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1934, the
construction industry set minimum wages
and maximum work weeks. Eventually, the
cycle of supply and demand returned. Frank
Lloyd Wright built many of his masterpieces.

INDUSTRY

As the 1930s began, lathing and plastering workers were disappearing in droves.
"Estimates made by the Division of Research
and Planning," wrote Hugh S. Johnson,
administrator for industrial recovery, "indi-

cate that the number of full and part-time
employees of this [plastering and lathing]
division of the construction industry decreased from approximately 127,000 in
1929 to 23,000 in 1933."
The number of working lathers and plasterers had dropped by 82 percent. This was
unacceptable-and unbearable. How long
could the country go without such craftsmen? How would it maintain buildings, let
alone erect new ones?
Extent of the industry. In the 1930s, plastered walls and ceilings were common. In
an undated and unsigned draft letter obtained from AWCI's archives and believed
to be written sometime after July 1933,
the Contracting Plasterers' International
Association (predecessor to AWCI) wrote
to the deputy administrator of the agency
coordinating economic recovery, the National

The number of working
lathers and plasterers had
dropped by 82 percent.
This was unacceptable-
and unbearable.

Recovery Administration. CPIA's letter said
that plastering represented "an average of 6
percent of [total] building cost."
CPIA worked closely with the Operative
Plasterers' and Cement Finishers' International Association, which in 1933 reported
plasterer wage scales ranging from a low of 62
and a half cents per hour in some Southern
cities to a high of $1.75 per hour in certain
Northern cities. The local unions reported
"an average wage scale for plasterers in the
317 cities [surveyed] of $1.18 per hour,"
CPIA noted.
"In consideration of wage scales in the
Plastering and Lathing Industry and for its
protection and service," the CPIA wrote,
"cognizance must be taken of the fact that
this oldest of basic crafts has always in largest
measure, provided the finish, both interior
and exterior, for countless homes and other
structures." The letter to the NRA added
that plaster "covers 80 percent of the visible
interior surface of [all] home building."
Plastering was important and something
needed to be done. Action came through a
program of government control.
Industrial recovery. After only a few months
in office, President Roosevelt signed the
National Industrial Recovery Act. "The
first part of the act proposes to our industry a great spontaneous cooperation to put
millions of men back in their regular jobs
this summer," said Roosevelt in June 1933.

Apprentice
Training
In 1938, CPIA
entered into an
agreement with the
Operative Plasterers' and Cement
Finishers' International Association
for apprentice
training . "Few apprentices have been
in training the past
eight years, due to
the great unemployment," said
Oscar A . Reum in
his President's Message at CPIA's 21st
Annual Convention .
The agreement
gave "every association and union the
widest latitude as to
local autonomy, and
conforms to standards recognized
and recommended
by the government," Reum said .

45



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Celebrating 100 years

AWCI's 100th Anniversary Video
i. Table of Contents
ii. Forward
iii. Acknowledgements
Chapter 1. 1918-1919 : The Master Minds
Chapter 2. The 1920s: Choosing Sides
Chapter 3. The 1930s: Unity Prevails
Chapter4. The 1940s: Dormancy and Revival
Chapter 5. The 1950s: Plaster vs. Drywall
Chapter 6. The 1960s: Other Lines of Endeavor
Chapter 7. The 1970s: Consolidation
Chapter 8. The 1980s: The Growth Years
Chapter 9. The 1990s: Money
Chapter 10. The 2000s: Exceptional Times
Chapter 11. The 2010s: We the Industry
Chapter 12. The Future
Chapter 13. The Sponsors
Appendix 1. AWCI’s Presidents
Appendix 2. AWCI Awards (the E.F. Venzie Award and the Pinnacle Award)
Appendix 3. Lifetime Members
Appendix 4. Longtime AWCI Members
Appendix 5. AWCI Board of Directors
Appendix 6. The Organization Behind the Leadership
Celebrating 100 years - AWCI's 100th Anniversary Video
Celebrating 100 years - Cover1
Celebrating 100 years - Cover2
Celebrating 100 years - 1
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Celebrating 100 years - i. Table of Contents
Celebrating 100 years - ii. Forward
Celebrating 100 years - 9
Celebrating 100 years - 10
Celebrating 100 years - iii. Acknowledgements
Celebrating 100 years - 12
Celebrating 100 years - Chapter 1. 1918-1919 : The Master Minds
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Celebrating 100 years - Chapter 2. The 1920s: Choosing Sides
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Celebrating 100 years - Chapter 3. The 1930s: Unity Prevails
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Celebrating 100 years - Chapter4. The 1940s: Dormancy and Revival
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Celebrating 100 years - Chapter 5. The 1950s: Plaster vs. Drywall
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Celebrating 100 years - Chapter 6. The 1960s: Other Lines of Endeavor
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Celebrating 100 years - Chapter 7. The 1970s: Consolidation
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Celebrating 100 years - Chapter 8. The 1980s: The Growth Years
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Celebrating 100 years - Chapter 9. The 1990s: Money
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Celebrating 100 years - Chapter 10. The 2000s: Exceptional Times
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Celebrating 100 years - Chapter 11. The 2010s: We the Industry
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Celebrating 100 years - Chapter 12. The Future
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Celebrating 100 years - Chapter 13. The Sponsors
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Celebrating 100 years - Appendix 1. AWCI’s Presidents
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Celebrating 100 years - Appendix 2. AWCI Awards (the E.F. Venzie Award and the Pinnacle Award)
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Celebrating 100 years - Appendix 3. Lifetime Members
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Celebrating 100 years - Appendix 4. Longtime AWCI Members
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Celebrating 100 years - Appendix 5. AWCI Board of Directors
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Celebrating 100 years - Appendix 6. The Organization Behind the Leadership
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