LEISERSON, WILLIAM MORRIS (1883–1957), U.S. labor economist. Leiserson, who was born in Estonia, was taken to New York City in 1890. He worked in a shirtwaist factory while continuing his education at Cooper Union. He passed the University of Wisconsin entrance examinations without having formally graduated high school. In Wisconsin he became involved with the Milwaukee reform socialists. He also worked on the economist John R. Commons' staff, studying labor conditions in Pittsburgh. These experiences prepared him to serve as an investigator for the New York State legislature's Commission on Unemployment and Workmen's Compensation. In 1911 he returned to Wisconsin to become deputy industrial commissioner for the state, where he also helped found the National Association of Public and Private Employment Agencies. Leiserson's achievements in the employment and social security fields include drafting of the Ohio Plan for unemployment insurance, chairmanship of the Ohio Commission on Unemployment Insurance, and helping to draft the U.S. Social Security Act of 1934.
Another major interest of Leiserson's was labor arbitration. He became the first impartial chairman of the Rochester (N.Y.) Labor Adjustment Board for the men's clothing industry (1919–21) and served as a full-time arbitrator until he became a professor at Antioch College in 1926. He also served as secretary of the National Labor Board (1933–34), chairman of the National Mediation Board (1934–39), and member of the National Labor Relations Board (1939–43). Leiserson taught at Antioch, the University of Toledo, and Johns Hopkins University. He also wrote many articles and books reflecting his interest in social security and unemployment, industrial relations, and arbitration. Two years after his death, his American Trade Union Democracy was published.
J.M. Eisner, William Morris Leiserson (1967).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.