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Mr. RILEY. I suggested that that is a possibility, because I see nothing to the contrary that would prevent that from happening.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions?
Senator DWORSHAK. No, but I had one reaction from the colloquy which has just taken place.
If it involves a spoils system to permit members of the party in the House and in the Senate to participate in the selection of postmasters, then I wonder if it would not be concentrating a comparable spoils system in the hands of one man, the Postmaster General, under this plan?
Mr. RILEY. If I failed to bring that out adequately, Mr. Chairman, then I have been remiss. That was my last point, that you are without question, in my opinion, building up a huge personal patronage system, which is a loss worse than anything else I have ever seen. And I have seen personal patronage systems built up in this Government.
The CHAIRMAN. All right. Thank you very much, Mr. Riley. Mr. RILEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. (Subsequently the following letter was received :)
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR,
Washington, D. C., May 20, 1952. Hon. John L. MCCLELLAN, Chairman, Committee on Gorernment Operations,
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. L'EAR SENATOR MCCLELLAN : In further support of the statement I made before your committee yesterday on Reorganization Plan No. 2 in regard to the plan's failure to recognize postal career employees in filling postmasterships, I refer to the present Postmaster General's views on the same subject.
His remarks at the time S. 2027 was pending before the Post Office and Civil Service Committee indicates just how the Postmaster General stands so far as promotion to postmaster jobs are concerned.
The text of the pertinent portion of the bill then pending is brief. It is quoted here:
“Provided, That the appointee shall be (1) a supervisor, clerk, or carrier in the classified service at the office where the vacancy occurs or (2) selected under civil-service regulations from a register to be made up and furnished the Postmaster General by the Civil Service Commission from a competitive examination open only to persons who have resided within the delivery of the office for 1 year or more next preceding the closing date for applications for the examination and who on the date of the examination are not more than 63 years of age but have attained the age of 21 years for third-class offices ; 23 years for second-class offices; or 25 years for first-class offices." The Postmaster General asserted he was opposed to the provisions of the bill to set up machinery for recognizing these career persons, though he admitted that such bill would increase the morale of postal employees. (See p. 124, March 14, 1950, hearings on S. 2027.)
In view of Senator Monroney's remarks yesterday that morale in the postal service today is far below what it should be, I believe the views of the Postmaster General are important in this connection.
In connection with postal inspectors' agitation to get postmaster jobs, I refer to a letter to the editor of the New York Herald-Tribune as of May 7, 1952, which reads as follows:
“Once again a political choice has been made for postmaster in New York. With over 800 postal inspectors available, many with large city office experience, at least one such should be acceptable to the political bosses, especially now with conditions as they are in the New York Post Office.
“H. W. HART.” It has become the custom of many these days to buy an article because it has an attractive label. There are those who are willing to endorse any proposal whenever it bears the brand of. "civil service" regardless of the contents of the package. Some even have blindly endorsed plan No. 2 on the mere assumption that it will put postmasters under civil service. Yet, they do not hesitate even to ask what kind of civil service. Are the examinations to be assembled or nonassembled and more importantly, are they to be competitive or noncompetitive? There are many other questions remaining unanswered. Due to the peculiar position in which the Congress has placed itself in considering reorganization plans, it can only vote the plan up or down. Thus, some plan which might have a suggestion for better government cannot be amended to make it actually such plan.
In regard to reference included in your committee staff report on residence provisions for postmasters, it can be agreed that the staff's conclusion on this point is correct. But, as in the instance of postal inspectors, the stations or posts of duty vary according to the place of their assignments. Their posts of duty may well be regarded as their residences. It involves no difficult maneuver to shift residence merely by changing the post of duty. In such manner, Washington, according to the whim of whoever may be the occupant of the job of Postmaster General, could deploy here and there to fill the postmasterships. You probably know that variation of residential requirements in the form of State apportionment has been under fire from the "reformers" a long time.
It is regretted that the Bureau of the Budget where, I understand, this latest agitation for plan No. 2 originated, did not seek to discuss these points clearly and forthrightly. Sincerely,
GEORGE D. RILEY, Member, National Legislative Committee,
American Federation of Labor. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Keating, did you have something to add?
FURTHER STATEMENT OF JEROME J. KEATING, SECRETARY,
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LETTER CARRIERS
REORGANIZATION Plan No. 2 of 1952 AND SENATE RESOLUTION 317
Mr. KEATING. I would like to add a supplemental point to what Mr. Riley has said about post office inspectors becoming postmasters.
Prior to the present administration we had no postal inspectors as postmasters, except that Washington very often had one. Mr. Burke was postmaster here. But we have one now in Indianapolis and one in Cleveland. And I received a letter this morning from one city where a post-office inspector who was stationed in an adjoining town had moved in and was establishing residence in that town, and he was slated to become postmaster. There was a vacancy coming up.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not think there is any objection to appointing some inspectors postmasters. I cannot see that there is any objection to that. But where they are permitted—if things like that are occurring—where they are being encouraged to move into a community and establish residence simply for the purpose of getting a post-office appointment
Mr. RILEY. I knew the unions could give you better information on that.
Mr. KEATING. The evil comes from the fact that the postal inspectors are the policemen of your organization. They check depredations, and they have somewhat the police idea. And unfortunately only officials of the Post Office Department at the present time, or the majority of them, are in the inspector force. So we have more police administration than we have good administration in the Post Office Department at the present time, and that is what we object to.
The CHAIRMAN. All right. Mr. Hallbeck.
STATEMENT OF E. C. HALLBECK, LEGISLATIVE REPRESENTATIVE,
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF POST OFFICE CLERKS
REORGANIZATION Plan No. 2 OF 1952 AND SENATE RESOLUTION 317
Mr. HALLBECK. Mr. Chairman, for the purpose of the record, my name is E. C. Hallbeck, and I am the legislative representative of the National Federation of Post Office Clerks, with offices at 711 Fourteenth Street NW., this city.
I expect, in view of the testimony the committee has heard this morning, what I will have to say will perhaps sound in the nature of a summation. I have a very brief statement. I have just a couple
a summatiopies here. il vou let us have the sour mi
The CHAIRMAN. Will you let us have those up here, for the present?
Mr. HALLBECK. Yes; I am sorry, but our mimeograph machine broke down this morning, and I could not get them copied
I am appearing this morning in support of Senate Resolution No. 317, and in opposition to Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1952. At the outset, I should like to make it clear that we have grave doubts of the wisdom of attempting to accomplish the purpose stated in the President's message by the reorganization method. We believe that the question of legality raised in the Staff Memorandum 82–2–29, dated May 12, should be carefully considered by those competent to determine whether the proposal is in fact within the scope of the Reorganization Act of 1949.
Aside from any question of doubt concerning the method by which the stated objective is to be accomplished, we are of the opinion that the objective itself is not desirable. Reduced to major essentials, the plan proposes to eliminate the necessity for Senate confirmation of postmaster appointments. We see no reason to believe that such action will result in the appointment of better qualified people to the position of postmaster, or that such action will result in any considerable saving of time or money to the Post Office Department or to the Federal Government. Neither do we believe that the adoption of this plan will have a tendency to cause a greater number of promotions to the position of postmaster from within the service.
The plan would, however, place in the hands of a single individual the sole right to appoint some 21,000 people, most of whom he could not possibly know, without consultation or advice from any source. Such a power could be used for political purposes or for practically any other purpose the appointing officer has in mind.
In a political sense, I think it is safe to assume that the appointing officer would appoint only those of his own political faith wherever and whenever possible. Further than that, however, I think it likely that appointments would go only to those of his own branch or faction of that political faith and might in some instances have important repercussions within a political party.
It seems to us, therefore, that rather than eliminating political considerations, the plan under discussion would stimulate political activity within the postal service because it would open the doors to the creation of a personal patronage machine such as does not exist at the present time. In his appearance before the committee last week, I believe Postmaster General Donaldson hit the nail on the head when he stated in effect that the requirements of the Veterans' Prefer
ence Act and the rule of three on appointment had to some extent eliminated the political aspects of appointments, and can see nothing in the reorganization proposal likely to improve the present situation.
If the reorganization plan now under consideration contained provisions making it possible to establish a real career service on the basis of a merit system of promotions to the position of postmaster, we would certainly support it. Unfortunately, nothing in this proposal seems likely to bring about that condition and we are forced to the conclusion that the changes proposed would actually do more harm than good.
For these reasons, Mr. Chairman, we support Senate Resolution No. 317 in opposition to Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1952.
Our views on this question are not lately arrived at and are based solely on the principle involved without regard to personalities or political considerations. As proof of this, I am attaching as an appendix to this statement the text of an editorial I wrote for our journal in July of 1950.
The CHAIRMAN. That may be printed in the record. (The material referred to follows:)
[From the August 1950 Union Postal Clerk]
Who BLOCKS POSTAL REFORM?
In an editorial appearing in the New York Herald Tribune for June 28, the question is asked, “Who Blocks Postal Reform ?” While the editorial refers to the curtailment of service occasioned by the Postmaster General's orders of April 17, the evident purpose is to put in a plug for the Hoover Commission recommendations, particularly one which would put the appointment of postmasters under the sole supervision of the Postmaster General, eliminating the requirement for Senate confirmation at offices of the first-, second-, and third-class.
The editorial argues that the bill has been held up (the Senate Post Office and Civil Service Committee agreed to its indefinite postponement on March 21 of this year), "solely to protect the interests of politicians in the appointment of postmasters,” but we venture the opinion that such is not the case. Members of both the House and Senate have told the writer on numerous occasions that there was only a negligible advantage in the designation of postmasters. As one well known Senator put it, “an appointment at best makes one friend and two enemies and at worst two enemies and one ingrate.”
Aside from the political implications, Members of Congress may well question the advisability of removing the requirement for Senate confirmation on other grounds. In many places the postmaster is the only Federal official. He is a symbol of our Government and whether he is a good or bad official is important to the people of that community. Who is better equipped to know the needs of a community than those who are active politically? The Congressman or Senator who campaigns in a State or district must of necessity know a lot about the people of that State or district or he does not stay long in Congress. Isn't it logical to suppose that he might, therefore, be in a better position to select postmasters than an appointive official who does not have the same kind of personal responsibility to the people?
The argument that a savings in expenditures can be effected merely by changing the method of selecting postmasters is sheer nonsense. One of the best and at the same time most efficient postmasters the writer has ever known was a firstclass politician. He kept the wheels rolling with a minimum of friction. At the same time we have known businessmen who became postmasters and were flat failures. Changing the method of selecting postmasters is definitely not a panacea for the ills of the post office.
Mr. HALLBECK. I would like to quote just one paragraph from that editorial, because I think it might perhaps amplify something that has been said before. And this editorial was in connection with a bill I might add, that was introduced in the Congress, to which Senator Johnston referred.
Aside from the political implications, Members of Congress may well question the advisability of removing the requirement for Senate confirmation on other grounds. In many places the postmaster is the only Federal official. He is a symbol of our Government and whether he is a good or bad official is important to the people of that community. Who is better equipped to know the needs of a community than those who are active politically? The Congressman or Senator who campaigns in a state or district must of necessity know a lot about the people of that State or district or he does not stay long in Congress.
Isn't it logical to suppose that he might, therefore, be in a better position to , select postmasters than an appointive official who does not. have the same kind of personal responsibility to the people?
I would like to say one word in regard to the selection. Senator Monroney mentioned it a moment ago.
The selection which the Member of Congress is called upon to make at the present time is from the three highest eligibles on the register. And all he is asked to do is to select on the basis of residence and character, which, as the former Attorney General stated, is perfectly within the law.
Now, I am not naive enough to suppose that there are not occasions when they select on some other basis.
Senator MONRONEY. What was that? Mr. HALLBECK. They are supposed to make the recommendations to the appointing officer on the basis of residence and character, and the former Attorney General, Mr. Murphy, has said that it was correct, that that was within the law.
Now, there may be occasions, and there probably are, when some Members of Congress have used another basis. But I do not think that is the fault of the system now in use. I think that is more likely to be a fault, if any, of the individual who uses that basis.
We appreciate the time and consideration which the committee is giving to this subject, and I want to express my personal thanks for this opportunity to express those views.
Senator MONRONEY. Could you give this committee any information about how many members of your clerical organization have been appointed postmasters in the last, say, 7 years?
Mr. HALLBECK. I would say perhaps—and this is merely a guess, Senator-it might run as high as 200.
I believe the Postmaster General, the other day, made reference to three-hundred-some former employees who are now serving as postmasters in various cities, and he named a long list beginning with Atlanta, Ga.
Inasmuch as I represent the largest single division within the postal service, I would say that on that basis perhaps 200 of our members have been named postmaster.
Senator MONRONEY. Suppose the Postmaster General was correct, 300 in the last 7 years; was that his base?
Mr. HALLBECK. He said there are at the present time some threehundred-odd.
Senator MONRONEY. That would be 30 to 40 a year out of about 300,000 postal workers.
The thing that impresses me and the reason I feel rather keenly about it: I served in the House for 12 years in a democratic district.
I think it is unfortunate that your postal workers, as a rule, do not even feel it is worth while, because they feel the cards are stacked against them, to even try to qualify under civil service on a rule of three. It is a rare case where a postal worker maybe with 20 or 25