Andrews, John Bertram

Andrews, John Bertram

(1880–1943) labor expert, social reformer, economist; born in South Wayne, Wis. After earning a Ph.D. in history and economics at the University of Wisconsin under labor historian John R. Commons (1908), he became the executive secretary of a new organization he had helped to found, the American Association for Labor Legislation—a promoter of progressive labor legislation. To support its work he would also found and edit the American Labor Legislation Review (1911–43). A pioneer in the industrial-hygiene and safety movement in the U.S.A., he wrote a report (1908) that led to federal legislation prohibiting the use of poisonous white phosphorous in matches (1912). His most significant work was on behalf of health and unemployment insurance for working people; he appointed a commission to investigate the feasibility of such insurance (1912); the commission recommended (1915) a compulsory mutual insurance plan modeled on programs operating in Britain and Germany, but this was attacked from all sides—unions as well as insurance companies. He continued to speak out for progressive approaches to issues of employment in the U.S.A., but, accepting that Americans were not willing to go along with this kind of compulsory insurance, he helped develop voluntaristic models; elements of his plan for unemployment insurance were incorporated into the Social Security Act of 1935. In addition to his overt advocacy of his ideas on social reform, he collaborated with his old professor John Commons on several academic texts such as Principles of Labor Legislation (1916), and he taught labor law and other social issue courses at Columbia University.