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years behind him has the temerity to even submit his qualifications for civil service status for postmaster. Yet, they are more familiar with the work than perhaps any outside ward boss or county manager could possibly be. And I cannot quite gear this protest by your postal unions into the good that the workers themselves will have a chance to receive if they do not happen to be the friend or the acquaintance of the sitting Congressman; or, in cases where you do not have a democratic Congressman or a Senator, then they just do not even choose to make themselves eligible for that.
Mr. HALLBECK. I wouldn't say that that was entirely true. I know of a lot of them that have taken examinations. I know of a lot of them that have been within the first three. But there is this to be said, and I am sure you know it, Senator Monroney, and the other members of the committee know it, but I think it should be stated for the benefit of the record : that the initial determination is made by the Post Office Department, and probably on the basis of information received from an adviser as to whether the position is to be filled by noncompetitive examination and promotion from within the service, or whether there is to be an open competitive examination.
Now, quite frankly, a lot of people feel that once there has been a determination, that it is to be filled by open competitive examination, it is the position of the powers that be that no one within the postal service should be promoted. If they had a contrary idea, all they would have to do would be to name that person acting postmaster, and he could then be given a noncompetitive examination and, upon qualification, appointed.
Senator MONRONEY. By the determination of the sitting Congressman?
Mr. HALLBECK. Very often I would expect it would be the sitting Congressman.
Senator MONRONEY. Very often he is the one to decide it. Oftentimes the sitting Congressman says, "If career men want to take this examination, let us get all the applicants there and go ahead.”
Mr. HALLBECK. That is particularly true when you have more than one man within a given office looking for it. I would not blame a Congressman under those circumstances for asking for that.
Senator MONRONEY. I think the open one is better. If a man is of good record and standing, he should compete along with the others, so that with his record in the Post Office Department, they will have a chance to put him on.
Mr. HALLBECK. I think that is absolutely true, that they should compete. But even in those cases where they do compete, I am sure I don't have to tell you that if they haven't had the nod in the first place, they are not going to get the job.
Senator MONRONEY. Well, I do not think many Congressmen know who is going to be on that group of three.
Mr. HALLBECK. But they know who are on it..
Senator MONRONEY. At the present time, the men who are on it in the larger, more sought after jobs are all disabled veterans. Mr. HALLBECK. That is right.
Senator MONRONEY. So those three top men will be disabled veterans, and if the postal worker or the personal friend of the Congressman is not on it, there is not anything that can be done.
Mr. HALLBECK. That is true. And as long as there is a single disabled veteran on there—of course, I don't have to tell you that it is difficult to run around a disabled veteran. You have to give a reason acceptable to the Commission.
Senator MONRONEY. Another veteran has the same status, if they are on a rule of three. But a disabled veteran or a veteran with five points cannot be skipped over for a nonveteran.
Mr. HALLBECK. Senator, if this plan proposed an actual career service, there would be something to it. We would support it.
Senator MONRONEY. What makes you think this will not? Mr. HALLBECK. This doesn't change the existing situation except in one respect, and that is to remove the requirement for Senate confirmation. That is the only change proposed.
Senator MONRONEY. You and I know that the Senate confirmation is a very minor part of the selection of postmaster.
I serve on the Post Office and Civil Service Committee. It is a rare time, I mean in my brief experience, where there has been any question if the nomination has come up from the Post Office Department, which means it has been cleared by the sitting Congressman or by the political organization in that State.
Mr. HALLBECK. Unless there is some objection somewhere.
Senator MONRONEY. I think there possibly have been only two objections, to my memory, in the last 15 or 16 months, and I expect we have approved close to a thousand postmasters. So it is more or less a perfunctory function, an obsolete function of the Senate, whereas it is still a very important and vital function of the House, believe me.
I know the problems that you have in trying to find out the man that the local community most desires to have for their postmaster.
Mr. HALLBECK. From that standpoint I think, frankly, it is a headache to most Members of Congress. I think it does them more harm than good.
Senator MONRONEY. I quite agree with you.
Mr. HALLBECK. I think that is absolutely true, that the Congressman, individually, might be better off without it. Whether it is good business for him is one question; but whether he is performing a necessary service is another.
Now, you mentioned the few who aren't confirmed. I believe Postmaster General Donaldson last week said he knew of one case where an acting postmaster had been serving for a considerable length of time despite the fact that a nomination was sent up, I believe he said, in the Eightieth Congress; but I am sure it was sent up twice during the Eighty-first, and once already during the Eighty-second, and that man still has not been confirmed. Well, there is one example where somebody has put a roadblock in the way. I do not know just where that was.
Senator MONRONEY. We will have testimony on that from the Civil Service Committee, will we not?
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Johnston testified earlier this morning. I do not believe he testified in detail about that matter. We can recall him if we want to obtain that information.
I just wanted to confirm this from one experience I remember as a Member of the House. I recall one instance where two men were most anxious to get the appointment in the post office. As between
them, I had no particular choice. But I did feel that there was objection to one from some others in the office, and vice versa; so I thought the thing to do was to throw it open to competitive examinations. And I think a good many times that is done. The Commission may request an open competitive examination, because there are a number of good people in the town. They are taxpayers.
I do not think just because a fellow happens to be in the career service he should necessarily have priority over some other good citizen. Mr. HALLBECK. No; I don't think that is true, either.
The CHAIRMAN. The other fellow is a citizen. He pays taxes. He supports the Government. He helps to pay the salary of the person against whom he has to compete with for the job.
I think the open-competitive examination is sound in practice, and I should like to see it continued.
I do not mean by that that I would not appoint, and maybe did-I know I offered the appointment to one or two because I thought they were good and competent men; but they declined.
Mr. HALLBECK. It is the strange thing that there are a lot of men who would not take the job of postmaster within the postal service.
The CHAIRMAN: And I may say this. You were speaking about it being a headache for the Congressman. I do not think it is a political asset to him at all. That is my experience. But in order to avoid this making one friend and a dozen enemies, it was my practice-at that time they served for only 4 years, and you could reappoint them without calling for a new examination—that in every office in any district save one, I reappointed the present postmaster who had been appointed by the man I had defeated, rather than to open it up. I lost a friend occasionally on account of that.
The postmasters who were in office when I was elected had supported the man I defeated for Congress as they should have done. But I found them to be good men. I found them to be people in whom the community had confidence. I found them efficient, courteous, and accommodating, and I saw no reason to make a change. That is the way I felt about it, and that was the policy I pursued.
Mr. HALLBECK. Well, I think that is right. There is nothing inherently wrong in politics. Actually, politics is the science of government. And there is nothing inherently wrong in that science. It is true that there are tangents departing from the scientific angle occasionally. But that doesn't make politics itself anything reprehensible.
The CHAIRMAN. I might add this to what I just said.
The Congressman who succeeded me, and who is still serving in my own district, reappointed all of those whom I appointed, as I recall. Most of them are still serving, because in 1938, Congress passed a law making the appointments for indefinite term. Many of them are still serving, including some whom my predecessors appointed and some whom I appointed; and, of course, there are still some vacancies. But those men have all satisfied the community. They have given service, and I am sure there will not be any complaints about them. It can be done. Politics can be wholesome, or it can be unwholesome. It depends upon the individual, in the final analysis.
Mr. HALLBECK. It is subject to human error, like pretty near everything else.
Senator MONRONEY. The point, if I may interrupt there, though, that I was trying to make is that all your postal workers, the 600,000 of them, are under the Hatch Act. If they actively and publicly campaign for the candidate for Congress or the candidate for the Senate, they are guilty of a violation of law, and most of them observe it rather scrupulously, I have found. That is your career worker. On the other hand, a first-class office opens up, and here is a man that goes out and organizes maybe the catfish fishermen's association or something in behalf of the Congressman in that county. An examination is held, we will say, open competitive. And perhaps a war veteran of World War II with a vast amount of experience quit his job in the Post Office Department, went into the service, perhaps attained stature in the postal service during the war. I am speaking of a specific case, where a man was in charge of General Eisenhower's mail room. He was for Eisenhower, but, because he made speeches for Eisenhower, it was a very difficult thing for me to appoint that young man, who, by all odds, was outstanding, over a man who had gone out and publicly organized various groups for me during my campaign.
Now, that is the point I am trying to get across, that this present system, from a practical standpoint, I think, blocks out the adequate consideration generally of your postal workers to aspire to the job of postmaster. With a well running and well organized civil-service plan taking politics out of the postal service, the top job will then be one that the postal workers can aspire to without being handicapped, necessarily, by the fact that they are under the Hatch Act and their competition is not. Therefore the politicians are going to have political preferment under either party.
And we are both reasonable and practical enough to realize that that is the situation.
Mr. HALLBECK. Senator Monroney, the only difference in our thinking is this. I don't believe that anything in Reorganization Plan No. 2 would change that situation.
I can't imagine that a postmaster general who receives his appointment as a result of politics, who is responsible to the President as a member of his Cabinet, could be entirely deaf to the requests that would come through political channels for appointments in these twenty-one-thousand-some-odd post offices.
My thinking on it is that there would be absolutely no check or balance, and the man, whoever he might be, who held a position of Postmaster General would be a law unto himself, and he could use that power in practically any way you could imagine.
Senator MONRONEY. You mean you are fearful of the present Postmaster General, or you feel that any Postmaster General might do that?
Mr. HALLBECK. No, I am speaking of the principle.
As a matter of fact, I entered the postal service under Woodrow Wilson, and I have seen an awful lot of Postmasters General. I have seen the good and the bad. And I don't believe that any of them wore wings. Most of them were political appointees.
Senator DWORSHAK. All understood something about politics?
Mr. HALLBECK. They weren't exactly strangers to it. That is for sure.
As a matter of fact, the author of the present law, of the O'Mahoney Act, I think got most of his experience while serving as the First Assistant Postmaster General. And he had no great previous experience, at least, with the postal service before he served in that position.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Hallbeck. Mr. HALLBECK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Walters, will you come forward, please? STATEMENT OF THOMAS G. WALTERS, REPRESENTING THE GOV.
ERNMENT EMPLOYEES COUNCIL OF THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR
REORGANIZATION PLAN No. 2 OF 1952 Mr. WALTERS. Mr. Chairman, for the record, and I will make my statement very brief, my name is Thomas G. Walters, representing the Government Employees Council of the American Federation of Labor.
This council is made up of 25 member unions whose membership in whole or in part are Federal employees.
I would like to endorse the general principle of Senator Johnston's statement and Jerome Keating's, E. C. Hallbeck, and George Riley's, as well as the comments made by the chairman of this committee this morning.
One thing that we, in the council feel very keenly, is that Reorganization Plan No. 2 does not change in any way that we can see, the many ramifications of the method and procedures of making the selection of who is to be postmaster. In fact, we are of the opinion that it would increase the possibility of returning more to the spoils system, if the plan, Plan No. 2, is adopted, than under the present system.
Now, the men who are the officers of the postal unions that make up this council are men with many years of experience in the postal service, most of them having more than 20 years' service in the post office work in the field service.
As for myself, in 1923 I was appointed rural carrier in my home town back in Toccoa, Ga., and we have over the years supported legislation that would improve the merit system.
But I would like to mention this fact in connection with Reorganization Plan No. 2. The more than 21,000 postmasters of the first, second, and third class have in their power the responsibility and the duty and the privilege of making approximately 500,000"appointments, or the supervision of that many employees, and to fill the vacancies from time to time, under the procedures as laid down by the Civil Service Commission.
Now, if Reorganization Plan No. 2 becomes law, and the power of appointing the more than 21,000 postmasters is placed in the hands of one individual, he indirectly and directly would likewise or could likewise have a lot to say as to who would be appointed clerks and carriers, and to other positions in the field service of the Post Office Department.
In the council we have such organizations as the National Postal Transport Association, commonly referred to as the railway postal.