Dr. Arthur Jacobs
Dr. Arthur T. Jacobs, a well-known labor arbitrator and economist and nonprofit agency and college executive, died October 5, 2018 at the age of 106 at his home in Rye.
Born in Chicago, he declined a scholarship to the University of Chicago to attend the University of Wisconsin on the advice of the famous progressive author Upton Sinclair, to whom he had written a letter and, to his astonishment, received a reply.
After receiving his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Wisconsin in 1934 and 1935, Dr. Jacobs worked for three years as the Assistant Chief Statistician of the Wisconsin Public Welfare Department until he was awarded a fellowship in Economics for two years at the University of Michigan where he earned his Ph.D. From there he went as an economist to the U.S. Central Statistical Board and then to the Bureau of Employment Security of the Social Security Board before becoming the director of manpower analyses and then the Assistant to the Director of the Bureau of Manpower Utilization of the War Manpower Commission.
During World War II he analyzed specific manpower problems hampering vital war production and organized their resolution by the appropriate government agencies. He was responsible for placing the steel and cotton industries on a compulsory 48-hour work week and was the liaison between the War Manpower Commission and the War Labor Board, persuading the Board to lift the war-time wage freeze to obtain the necessary labor for crucial war production.
As the chief executive of the leading Jewish immigration agency, HIAS, after the war, he successfully merged it with two competing agencies, the United Service for New Americans and the immigration branch of the Joint Distribution Committee, into the present single agency, still known as HIAS. This agency was responsible for resettling Jewish refugees all over the world. In 1943, prior to the merger, he successfully resettled the last several hundred Jewish refugees from Germany in Brazil.
His doctoral dissertation for the University of Michigan was the first major work to analyze the factors which determined how management and unions in collective bargaining negotiations successfully reached settlements without resorting to strikes or lockouts. Later he became the first economist to study the impact of unemployment insurance on relief rolls.
After the war he was a labor relations consultant in Chicago and New York, the Budget and Research Director of United Service for New Americans, management consultant to the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, Director of Administration and Secretary to the Board of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the Union for Reform Judaism), and Executive Vice President of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. His last full-time job, before retiring at age 72, was a 13-year tenure as Vice President for Administration and Finance of Ramapo College of New Jersey.
He began to arbitrate labor disputes in 1945 for the American Arbitration Association, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and the NYS Mediation Board, and later for the NYS Public Relations Board and the Office of Collective Bargaining of the City of New York. For several decades he was the named arbitrator in contracts between many employer associations and locals of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. He also served as a mediator and fact finder resolving contract impasses between public employees and their employers. Since 1998 Dr. Jacobs also served as a public arbitrator for FINRA (the Financial Industry Regulatory Agency).
For years, before he retired as an arbitrator, on his 96th birthday, he was the oldest active labor arbitrator in the U.S. He was one of the 600 arbitrators elected to the National Academy of Arbitrators.
After living in Larchmont for many years, Dr. Jacobs retired to Rye, where he served as president of the residence association at The Osborn.
Remembered as a man of bedrock character, he consistently displayed rationality and fairness in both his professional and personal relationships. He was a bright and steady beacon to his family, who adored him.
His family said, “His life and work speak to broader values about the importance of social welfare, support for refugees, and a belief in the power of education and good-faith debate to resolve conflicts and improve society.”
As an example of what inspired him, Dr. Jacobs saved and copied a word of advice he received in a letter dated March 17, 1934, from a professor of Journalism at University of Wisconsin, Curtis MacDougall: <“An educated man never is contented. His discontent is a symptom of his intelligence. He is an idealist and cognizant of the stupidities of his age. His perpetual mental perturbance is the price he pays.”>
Dr. Jacobs is survived by his wife of 80 years, Marcia, a retired clinical case worker and social work executive, to whom he was fiercely devoted. He is also survived by his two sons, Dr. John W. Jacobs of New York and Jeffrey Fox Jacobs of Rye, President of Jacobs Entertainment, Inc., and their wives, Dr. Vivian Diller and Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Charitable contributions in honor of Dr. Arthur T. Jacobs can be made to Human Development Services of Westchester (HDSW).