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they get quick advice that it is not sufficient and ought to be upped a little higher. It would seem to me to be as pertinent in the matter of pay, if they go too high, how much should they come down?
Mr. GoFF. I might say this. We have been held up on this matter of a postal-rate raise for several years and I think that will have to have priority above anything else.
Senator NEUBERGER. Of course, I do not think it is quite fair to pit the postal-pay raise against these employees' needs. It just seems to me that cannot be done in fairness with any Government department. I do not think it would be fair, for example, if we were considering the pay of Interior Department employees, as is done when you consider classified pay, to suggest that their pay should not go up until we increase entrance fees in the national parks or until we increase the duck-stamp rate or something like that. I think they are two separate questions in all fairness.
Mr. GOFF. I agree a living wage for any employee should not be dependent upon the income that comes in.
Senator NEUBERGER. That is correct.
Mr. GOFF. The question is, What is a living wage and is it a fair wage with reference to the wages paid generally in the Government and with reference to the wages paid in private industry and related to the cost of living?
Senator NEUBERGER. In your experience in the Post Office Department, Mr. Goff, you have been there quite some time, would you say that as of today the general wage scale of the Postal Department provides a living wage for its employees and their families?
Mr. GOFF. Well, that is a very difficult question to answer, and defining a living wage is a very tough one. I would be inclined to say a living wage depends upon how we look at it. If we compare it with some countries, yes. I think that what it ought to be compared to here would be what is a reasonable standard for people outside who are doing the same type of work, and I do not believe I am prepared to answer that question. I do know this, that we have had no particular difficulty in securing employees except in certain areas, and I was rather surprised when I came up here today, and in fact I was greatly surprised because I had heard so much about the turnover situation and I was handed a tabulation that is made from the monthly reports that we make to the Byrd committee and Civil Service Commission and I think to the House Post Office Committee on separations each month and I find that, well, starting January to December 1954, the monthly percentage of separations for the Post Office was only 1.35 percent as compared to 2.30 percent for the other departments of the Government without the Post Office figures in. The percentage of separations for manufacturing industries was 3.40 percent, which is a good deal higher. Now, that was 1954.
In 1955, the percentage of monthly separations for postal employees was 1.20 percent; for other Government departments outside the Post Office, 2.1 percent, and manufacturing industries, 3.30 percent.
In 1956, the monthly separation rate for postal employees had gone down to 1.1 percent as compared to 1.98 percent for all other Government departments and to 3.53 percent for the manufacturing industries.
I was frankly, as I say, surprised to find that our record was so good. I note that there has been a gradual reduction in separations
from the monthly separations from the Department and that is in reverse from the general idea I think that most of us had.
Mr. KERLIN. Isn't there an explanation for that, Mr. Goff, in that the Post Office is unique in that when an employee leaves and then may later return, that he has lost his seniority, whereas elsewhere in the Government, you can leave and come back and you are not suffering from lost seniority? Postal employees generally spend many years on shifts at night and what not and finally, they work themselves into positions where they just cannot afford to quit however much they might like to, so actually there is something more than just figures to consider. Wouldn't you think that is true?
Mr. GOFF. Well, I think those are just bald figures. They might be explained in some way, Mr. Kerlin, I think that might be true. · Mr. KERLIN. Another explanation might be that in holding two jobs to live, they do not have time to look for other work.
Senator NEUBERGER. Well, I would very much like to get these comparisons of your pay scale with your cost of living, if possible, and if I am not mistaken, Mr. Kerlin, that concludes our witnesses for this morning.
We will stand in recess. Thank you all for coming.
(Whereupon, at 12:15 p. m., the subcommittee was adjourned to reconvene at 10'a. m. Tuesday, May 21, 1957.)
SALARIES OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES
The subcNeuberger, Plinston, Neu
TUESDAY, MAY 21, 1957
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10 a. m., Hon. Richard L. Neuberger, presiding.
Present: Senators Johnston, Neuberger, Yarborough, and Morton. · Also present: J. Don Kerlin, staff member; Frank A. Paschal, staff member; and Peter N. Chumbris, administrative assistant to Senator Langer.
Senator NEUBERGER. The subcommitee will come to order, please. Before we commence with renewal of our hearings on Federal employees pay and compensation legislation this morning, I would like to call the attention of the committee and of the guests present that we have three very distinguished officials from Mexico and from the Government of Mexico present with us.
I cannot promise to pronounce their names exactly correctly, and, if I do not, I trust that they will be very forebearing and tolerant with me. The first of our guests is Senor Abelardo de la Torre Grajales. Senor Grajales is former member of the Mexican Senate, former member of the Mexican House of Representatives, and general secretary of the Government and Public Service Employees Union of Mexico. We are very pleased to have you with us.
We also have Senor Librado de la Torre Grajales, brother to the general secretary, and Federal Judge Florenzio Maya of the Federal District of Mexico.
I think if these three distinguished guests would rise, we would be very pleased to have them do so.
We are extremely honored to have you with us and very pleased to have you here as observers to listen to the hearing and I hope that you may feel that when ultimately this matter has been decided that it has been adjudicated fairly to all concerned. We are most honored to have you with us.
Our first witness this morning is Mr. William C. Doherty, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers. Mr. Doherty, we will hear from you now.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM C. DOHERTY, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL
ASSOCIATION OF LETTER CARRIERS; ACCOMPANIED BY JOHN T. DONELON, ASSISTANT; PETER J. CAHILL, SECRETARY-TREASURER; AND REUBEN B. KREMERS, ASSISTANT SECRETARYTREASURER
Mr. DOHERTY. Mr. Chairman, my name is William C. Doherty. I am president of the National Association of Letter Carriers. This morning, I am accompanied by our national secretary-treasurer, Mr. Peter J. Cahill; our assistant secretary-treasurer, Mr. Reuben B. Kremers, and my assistant, John T. Donelon.
Our organization represents approximately 110,000 letter carriers employed in the Bureau of Operations of the postal establishment.
My testimony is in behalf of S. 27—a bill to increase wages of letter carries and other postal employees.
At the outset, I should like to acknowledge with appreciation the introduction of S. 27 by Senators Johnston of South Carolina, the able chairman of the committee, Magnuson of Washington, Humphrey of Minnesota, Neuberger of Oregon, McNamara of Michigan, Langer and Young, both of North Dakota. The sponsorship of $. 27 reflects the genuine interest of these distinguished gentlemen in the welfare of all postal workers, and our organization deeply appreciates that interest.
We also owe you a debt of gratitude, Senator Neuberger, along with your colleagues on this subcommittee, Senators Langer and Yarborough, for scheduling and conducting these public hearings.
Our organization desires to place its unqualified endorsement on S. 27. It is an excellent bill. It is fair and reasonable. But above and beyond these reasons, it is necessary legislation if postal employees are to be dealt with equitably on economic grounds and in accordance with accepted concepts of social justice.
A wage policy that denies an adequate living standard is wrong. One that persists in ignoring the social justice of a decent wage is even more wrong because it fails to recognize human and moral values.
By law, regulation, and persuasion, Government has wisely pursued a policy of insistence on private employer compliance with this philosophy. But as an employer itself, Government has not always practiced what it preached. In fact, Uncle Sam is less a model employer today than ever before, specifically, in the area of wages.
No better proof can be cited than the dismal record of one postal salary adjustment in 6 years. Between 1951 and 1957, the only general wage increase was Public Law 68 enacted in 1955. It was more of a job classification than a salary increase. Even then the letter carrier had to surrender one-half of 1 percent of the increase he received when his retirement constribution was raised from 6 to 612 percent last year.
In 1956 alone many industrial wages increased as much as 11 percent. The national pattern since 1952 has been about 5 percent ner year, with indications of an increased average, since 4 to 5 million wage earners (according to U. S. News & World Report, January 4, 1957) are working under agreements calling for pay raises in 1957. Another indication is the 6.3 percent increase in United States incomes reported in the May 11 issue of Business Week.
In my opinion, the situation has deteriorated to a point where the administration, Congress and, yes, postal patrons themselves, must face the issue. Either an election must be made to compensate employees fairly and in accordance with the economic requirements of our generation, or the alternate choice can be made of continuing to regard them as second-class citizens, as mere statistics in a budget and not as human beings.
If employees are treated fairly in the matter of wages and working conditions, their morale is bolstered, their efficiency improved and their productivity increased. In an agency like the postal establishment, those conditions of employment are readily translated into better service, quicker service, and surer service. The opposite can be expected if present conditions are permitted to remain,
Reduced to simplest terms, it means this: If the attitude toward the postal budget is going to be exclusively concerned with money over morale, with savings rather than service, and deficits in lieu of decency, S. 27 will never move beyond these hearings. I hope and pray that type of pennywise-and-pound-foolish policy will not prevail.
As indicated earlier in my testimony, our organization supports S. 27 without qualification or reservation. Unhappily, our own estimate of the bill is not shared by those occupying high places in the executive branch. While admitting to a lack of understanding of that policy of continued opposition, nevertheless, I am constrained to say it does not surprise me. I am disappointed, yes, but not surprised. The basis for my reaction is the memory of 30 long, torturous months of opposition and 2 vetoes before the modest pay bill of 1955 was acceptable to the White House.
Congress did its duty, not once but on three separate occasions in approving and sending legislation to Mr. Eisenhower. I am sure Congress will again face up to its responsibility to postal workers. And I hope the executive branch will without delay recognize and satisfy its moral obligation to deal fairly with its own employees. In that connection, I would suggest the thought that justice too long delayed is no justice at all.
The current opposition of the administration to an adequate wage scale was contained in a reply to a request for the views of the Bureau of the Budget, adressed thereto by the House committee. In a letter dated May 6, Director Percival F. Brundage expressed the fear that a general wage increase might “operate directly or indirectly to bid up prices and thus undermine the purchasing power of the Nation's dollar.”
I suppose the relatively small group of postal employees involved in S. 27 should feel flattered to think their wages play such an important part in the destiny of our national economy. It is not the first time the suggestion has been made that a postal salary increase “would flick the starting key on a wage-price spiral which could spin out of sight with a disastrous jolt to the Nation's economy" as the chamber of commerce told its membership in a statement released on February 8 of this year. If such dire results were possible or likely to happen, and I certainly deny the possibility, we would be just as alarmed as the chamber of commerce. As a matter of fact, a Federal wage increase puts money in the hands of consumers who cannot compete with the high price's forced on all consumers by profit-mad firms and corporations, many of whom are affiliated with the chamber of