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One is the apparent effort of industry to obtain the most desirable manpower, and I think these figures point to the narrowing of industrial demands and, consequently, a more intensive trend in that direction.
The second is given the correctness of the first assumption—the Post Office Department finds its opportunity for highly qualified manpower lessened. That leads to the acquisition of large numbers of marginal employees.
Exploring this subject further, I wish to point out the seriousness of the situation, which is not too apparent on the records, but shows up to a marked degree among those closely intimate with the work force.
In any grouping below the supervisory level you will find individuals who by reason of their intellect and personality assume what may be termed leadership roles within the group. In this service, those persons have grown, through their own efforts and service familiarity, to the levels of authority in interpreting postal operations at the operating levels. Such men have established an acumen for clearing away intricacies of changes and alterations in operations until they are a ready source of information in clearing up confused and intricate wording of changing methods.
This reasoning means that, if you are to protect your investment in manpower, the caliber of men to whom I have just referred must be continuously maintained. On the other hand, with increasing pace toward automation the postal operations will have to point to skilled manpower qualified to further insure returns on the investments of the American taxpayer. Conservatively, I would say that this caliber of manpower is not, today, entering the service. Furthermore, I feel that if the financial pressures were relieved, much of the energies used for outside jobs of the current force would be voluntarily channeled to service programs.
The foregoing points underscore some observations which I think are pertinent and with this, I will conclude.
I think, Mr. Chairman and honored members of this committee, that some merit must be attached to the sense of importance which a worker has in the role he is playing. To a large degree, you here determine the essence of that importance. Between the acclamation of postal workers and other Federal employees for their devotion to duty and the uttered disdain in discredit of these same people, this sense of importance has suffered. For one reason or another, whether fact or fiction, these people have found their places in the economicand, consequently, the social sun eclipsed by the less skilled. There was a period in the not too far distant past in which men pointed to the service with pride. To qualify for a job in the postal service carried with it a level of prestige strongly undergirded by an income level that reflected favorably on the service as well as on the employee.
In this regard, I insert a quotation here by Mr. Sidney Wienberg, a director of 12 companies :
You don't relate the salary to profit or sales. The fact that there have been no profits or dividends just makes for a different climate of judging. You take everything into account-what a man is getting—why he should be raised-what the competitor is paying—what the prevailing market is—whether a raise would throw the pay scale out of kilter-we ask everything we can think of.
Therefore, it is logical to presume that wages or salaries form a determing part of the job picture in their relation to living standards and prestige level.
On this point, a 1953–55 study by the Royal Commission of the Civil Service of Great Britain made this pertinent observation:
Having willed the ends, the nation must will the means. Employees should receive a fair and adequate wage. They should be no worse off than a colleague in a comparable industry. Consideration of their wage needs should be based on their economic worth to the nation.
Again, Mr. Chairman, I, on behalf of my organization wish to express our appreciation for the interest you have shown in our problem in the face of administrative opposition. Our reference to other segments of the national economy have not been presented in rancor or criticism, for we, too, believe in growth, ingenuity, and enterprise.
Moreover, we believe, emphatically, that growth must flow throughout all the segments which contribute to it. Thus we have pointed to industrial and corporate income growth which compounds the gains of industrial labor as a comparison, rather than to dwell on non-Government labor gains alone.
To us, S. 27 represents a strong effort to recapture the solid ground upon which our income rested in years long past. We feel that passage of this legislation is imperative if the type of personnel required to undertake the massive and growing responsibility of moving the mails continues to flow into the service.
Moreover, we feel that it is time that Congress and the administration declare that postal employees and Federal employees should not and cannot underwrite the cost of Government—the impact of cyclical fluctuations and income growth at the expense of their living standards, the welfare of their families and the education of their children.
Senator NEUBERGER. The next witness is William Freeman, secretary, Chicago Post Office Clerks' Union, No. 1, National Federation of Post Office Clerks.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM FREEMAN, SECRETARY, CHICAGO POST
OFFICE CLERKS' UNION NO. 1, NATIONAL FEDERATION OF POST OFFICE CLERKS
Mr. FREEMAN. I am William Freeman, secretary of the Chicago Post Office Clerks' Union, representing over 5,500 members. I am a city distributor in the Chicago post office and have over 33 years of service, most of which was spent on the night set. Assisting me in the presentation in support of H. R. 6453 and H. R. 6504 is George J. Wachowski, president of the Chicago Post Office Clerks' Union, who has 34 years of service and is a parcel-post distributor assigned to the night shift at the Chicago post office.
I am delighted that the Senate committee is considering the matter of post office pay increases. I believe that attention should be drawn to H. R. 6453 and H. R. 6504 providing for a 20-percent increase in pay of post-office employees working in localities whose population is 500,000 or over. The Senate committee is considering S. 27, S. 734, and S. 1326. The Chicago Post Office Clerks' Union is offering as a suggestion, H. R. 6453 and H. R. 6504.
:: The basis for the measure is firmly rooted in the prevailing economic conditions. The wide discrepancy between prices in small towns and rural communities as compared with the large metropolitan areas. That this exists there can be no doubt, the facts are evident. For illustration: The Illinois Labor Bulletin of January-February 1957 records a survey of consumer expenditures in 1950 by United States Bureau of Labor following a survey of consumer expenditures; 336 families were interviewed in Chicago, and 40 families in Anna, Ill., population 4,380 people. Expenditures for main items were as follows: Food: Chicago, $1,427; Anna, $886; housing: Chicago, $967; Anna, $680; recreation and education: Chicago, $318; Anna, $165.
City Workers Family Budget for October 1951, issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 1951, Washington, D. C., had the highest living cost in the item of housing. Using Washington as 100 percent, Manchester, N. H., percentagewise, stood at 74 percent; Mobile, Ala., stood at 59 percent; Savannah, Ga., 72 percent; Scranton, Pa., 68 percent. Hospitalization costs for families, Blue Cross Blue ShieldJackson, Miss., $5.65 per month; Chicago, Ill., $10.45; Los Angeles, Calif., $10.45.
The high-price plateau in the large populated areas produce unwelcome outcomes. The wages of private industry have been steadily rising in the large centers, far outdistancing wages paid in the post offices.
Some occupations and trades have received 7 and 8 rounds of wage increases. The wages are the highest they have ever been and still going strong. Comparative hourly wage scale of selected occupation in various city areas (as of October 31, 1956): Machinists, Chicago, Ill., $2.44 per hour; McAlester, Okla., $1.99' per hour; Macon, Ga., $2.04 per hour. For laborers: Chicago, Ill., $1.83 per hour; Macon, Ga., $1.09 per hour. Source: Federal Employees Almanac, 1957. The effect of private industry paying much more in wages than the Chicago post office results in a large labor turnover. The turnover in the Chicago post office, clerks, and letter carriers is 29.7 percent. Civil-service examinations are held for post-office clerks and letter carriers, resulting in very few qualifying. “Many of the newer employees are permitted to become regular employees through the back door by being blanketed in. The standards of employment are lowered to secure help. In spite of all the shortcuts and considerations extended to the new help, labor leaves the post office. Herewith is submitted a news release issued by Postmaster Carl A. Schroeder, January 28, 1957, to the Chicago press :
OFFICE OF THE POSTMASTER
Chicago 7, Ill.
NEWS RELEASE C. Robert Schultz
January 28, 1957 WA 2-9200 Ext 11
1-28-28:L What: 500 clerk-carrier positions available. Where: Chicago Post Office. When: Examinations given daily to assist in filling vacancies. Why: Retirements and promotions in last 3 months created vacancies.
Due to the many promotions and retirements, the Chicago post office has immediate openings for young men and women 18 years of age or older in the important career positions of clerk or carrier.
Postmaster Carl A. Schroeder announced that the recent changes in the retirement laws which have incerased benefits has encouraged many of the career employees to accept their retirement. The retirement law is only one of the many features that attracts career employees. The many new benefits have attracted hundreds of new personnel for the Post Office each week, but vacancies still exist as others apply for retirement earlier than anticipated.
The Postmaster added that the young men and women of Chicago who desire to become a part of this huge business of communications now have an opportunity to join the postal family. They will enjoy such extra features as the 5-day workweek, as many as 5 weeks vacation, and a 13-day sick leave allowance each year, merit promotions, and in the next few years in automation improve
The starting annual salary for a regular distribution clerk is $3,660 plus the added 10 percent bonus for duty between 6 p. m. and 6 a. m. Annual automatic incerases for 7 years advances the carrer postal employees salary as distribution clerk to $4,410. Postal employees enjoy 8 paid holidays each year.
Each new employee is given a free course of instruction and training in the postal training and development unit.
In addition to the benefits listed, the postal service offers low cost life insurance, and if you desire to be a postal carrier, allowances for uniforms are now granted.
This is the time of opportunity to enjoy a position of respect in your community Never before has the Post Office Department offered so much to career employees. Apply now-Room 304, Main Post Office Building, Canal and Van Buren Streets, Chicago 7, Ill.
You are urged to apply in person for new postal opportunities in the field of communication.
No magic can work. More money, more wages, more for the necessities of life are needed to make the post office an efficient force.
It is not only important to attract help, but is also important to attract educated help. The operations of post offices are complicated. Intricate schemes must be learned by employees. Many employees are dropped because of scheme failures. A stable force is necessary for efficient operation. The labor turnovers largely exist where the cost of living is high. After labor is recruited it is more important to retain it.
The justice of the situation demands the establishment of a differential. If costs are higher in one locality than another, the compensation should be different. All industry today has pay differences. Wages are not identical for the same type of work. The same skills are paid differently in different places. This is not a newfangled idea, but as old as time. The question is, Can a realistic approach to the problem of postal pay be achieved or is utter selfish consideration going to dominate the scene?
The chief factor in the composition of wages is the cost of living. There can be no other formulation. Any other type of procedure to pay equal wages for equal work is an impossible formulation. The wages should be based on the formula of commensurate wages for different costs. The luxury of legalizing wages irrespective of costs cannot long be endured. The inflationary trend makes a differential as the only way out of the postal mess.
The trend of price advance has caused great hardship to post-office employees. It takes 60 hours of labor to pay a month's rent. The price of a haircut is $2, a bus ride is 20 cents, a first-run Loop movie is $1.50, a corned beef sandwich, 65 to 75 cents. In 1935 a corned beef sandwich was 10 cents.
In order to make ends meet, many employees must go through the grueling task of working on another job. High speed prevails in postal distribution of mail and high speed generally prevails in pri
vate industry. The effect of working 12 hours per day with the additional time for travel has reduced postal labor to the status of a slave. The great achievement of the last century in eliminating chattel slavery has produced a new kind of slavery-economic slavery.
The result of such an existence must produce premature old age, or illness. Present conditions are costly to the post office; constantly training new help; upsetting situations rarely a well-organized operation. The time has come for action by Congress. Indeed a sad commentary on a domestic problem confronting the richest nation on earth failing to meet the issues squarely by effectuating a relief for its most loyal servants, the post-office workers of our great land.
Chairman and members of the Post Office and Civil Service Committee, we implore you to give speedy consideration and approval to
H. R. 6453 and H. R. 6504. It is just and renders aid where aid is needed most. We feel certain that efforts extended in behalf of our aggrieved membership will be deeply appreciated and will long be remembered. The Chicago community as a whole will be benefited by clearing air hovering over the post office. This is one sure way to make the service what it has been for decades, a dependable and upright certain force in the business world of today. We thank you.
Senator NEUBERGER. The next witness is Mr. Harold McAvoy, president, United National Association of Post Office Clerks.
Mr. KERLIN. Mr. Chairman, I wish to call attention to another typographical error on the agenda. Mr. McAvoy is national president of the National Association of Post Office and Postal Transportation Service Mail Handlers, Watchmen, and Messengers.
Senator NEUBERGER. We will see that your full and accurate title is included.
Mr. McAvoy. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF HAROLD MCAVOY, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSO
CIATION OF POST OFFICE AND POSTAL TRANSPORTATION SERV. ICE MAIL HANDLERS, WATCHMEN, AND MESSENGERS, ON S. 27 Mr. McAvoy. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, my name is Harold McAvoy, national president of the National Association of Post Office and Postal Transportation Service Mail Handlers, Watchmen and Messengers. We are part of the Government Employees' Council and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.
At the start I would like to thank you and the members of your committee for the privilege of appearing before you and the chance to give our reasons why our people in the postal service are entitled to an American standard of living pay increase. You have before you a pay bill known as S. 27, which if enacted into law, would increase the rates of basic compensation of officers and employees in the field service of the Post Office Department. Our organization fully endorses S. 27.
As you and your committee realize, our people have received one pay raise in the last 6 years. Based on the price index of 1939 our Government employees in 1945 were living on a 76-cent dollar. At the present time, I have been informed, this dollar has been cut to 49.6 cents.