페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

commerce. They love to blame wages for high prices, but I am inclined to agree with a statement made a few years ago by one of the ablest businesmen of our times. · In an article he authored for Reader's Digest in September 1952, Defense Secretary Charles E. Wilson, then President of General Motors Corp., had this to say to those who insist upon talking about “the wage-price spiral :"

I contend that we should not say the "wage-price spiral.” We should say the "price-wage spiral.” For it is not primarily wages that push up prices. It is primarily prices that pull up wages.

Getting back to Director Brundage's reason for denying approval of a pay increase at this time. AFL-CIO President George Meany made the very factual observation that the economic climate never seems to lend itself to a Federal pay raise. In his remarks to more than 2,000 delegates of Federal employee unions meeting in this city last week, Mr. Meany said, and I quote:

When prices are rising, it is inflationary to increase pay. When prices are falling, higher pay might promote unemployment. When prices are fairly stable, it might rock the boat to adjust the pay structure.

In my opinion, the Bureau of the Budget attempted to leave the inference that, standing alone, a general pay increase at this time would result in inflationary pressures. Nothing was said in the statement to point up the fact that to date the administration has been conspicuously unable to cope with the problem of ever-increasing prices and decreasing purchasing power. Nor was anything said to suggest that the extremely handsome increases in the executive pav bill approved last year might have added fuel to the inflationary fire. In short, at a time when it is quite clear that every Government effort to date to stabilize prices has been a failure, there is a need to find a scapegoat. Apparently, rank and file Government workers have been selected for that role. And they are expected to accept the role with nobility of character, presumably on the sole grounds that they are working for the Government. In effect, this means employees are asked to help subsidize their Government by working for grossly inadequate wages.

There was another curious omission in Mr. Brundage's letter of May 6. The merit of pay legislation and the need for additional wages were ignored. This becomes all the more startling when one stops to consider how many studies and surveys have been conducted in recent months, all of which in one manner or another point up the disparity between Government salaries and those paid by industry.

Among the studies I have knowledge of on the question of Federal wages are the Cordiner report, the Senate Civil Service Citizens' Advisory Council, a House Ways and Means Subcommittee on the Internal Revenue Service, plus the administration's own Committee on Federal Scientific and Engineering Salaries.

Yet, Mr. Brundage, by neglecting to come to grips with the merit or need of the legislation before this subcommittee, figuratively withdraws to his ivory tower and says, in effect, there is nothing wrong with Federal wages; no corrections therefore are required. Moreover, if perchance some deficiency is exposed, nothing can be done about it, because you work for Uncle Sam.

Government workers have never asked for special consideration one way or the other. The effect of the present attitude toward pay legislation is to place a freeze on Government salaries. I am reasonably sure employees will resent this "special consideration” accorded them.

I am cognizant of the concern and contention currently surrounding the 1958 budget. Like every reasonable person, I am for economy, but not economy at any cost. There are certain areas of Federal spending which must be kept in line, including wages. But certainly that reasoning should not be twisted to mean that wages should be substandard.

Many competent students of our national economy insist that the 1958 budget, large as it seems to be, still is inadequate in many respects. It is pointed out that Government might prudently spend additional funds on a variety of items of importance to the general welfare of our Nation and its peoples. Among these are mentioned an enlarged school-building program, protection and conservation of our natural resources, aid to small businesses, a better health-research program,

come involved in all these fields, and to ignore them or stymie progress because the bill for their upkeep increases from time to time is indefensible. As long as Government stays involved in these activities, and they are all legitimate interests of government, in my opinion, we must be prepared to pay our way. That goes for operating the postal establishment, the same as it does for a health program, national security, or a hot-lunch program for schoolchildren.

On this subject, the McGraw Hill Publishing Co., Inc., carried an interesting editorial in its April publication. The item asked, “Can We Afford a $71.8 Billion Budget-Is It Really Too Big?

Actually, said the editorialthe proposed budget would place no greater burden on the economy than any budget in the last 6 years, because our economy has been growing. Federal spending per capita under the proposed budget will be about $416, or $10 more than this year; but our per capita income rose almost $80 last year. And, because of our increasing population, next year's expenditures will, in fact, amount to less per capita than in 1954 when Federal spending was $4 billion lower.

Another way of measuring the burden of Government expenditures on the economy is to compare the purchases of goods and services of all branches of government-Federal State, and local—with the total output of the Nation. The share of our national product taken by Government this year will be about the same as in the past 2 years and, furthermore, about the same average as for the past 28 years.

Therefore, if we ask if the budget is within the means of the American economy, clearly the answer must be in the affirmative. Yet, letter carriers are asked to accept the present indignities forced on them by their inadequate wages, all in the sacred name of a balanced budget.

Above and beyond the obvious personal hardships an inadequate salary imposes on a worker, other unwholesome conditions result. Not the least of these is a lowering of morale and a decrease in the efficiency of the employee. These are accompanied by a personnel turnover which, if not halted and reversed, eventually assumes proportions beyond control.

And, may I say, Mr. Chairman, there exists a very real and serious personnel-turnover problem within the postal establishment. It is costly in terms of our National Treasury, because those quitting comprise not only recent recruitments but experienced manpower as well. În the first instance, there is lost the cost of training a new employee. In the case of career employees you lose the investment income that comes from experience and efficiency in any operation.

This trend must be halted and reversed in its tracks if the postal service is to maintain efficiency in its operations. It needs to retain its experienced personnel and to make the job more attractive to new employees. The reason is quite obvious, in that it is a public service largely dependent on the human mind, eye, and hand. I doubt the day will ever come when a robot will be developed to deliver letters up and down the street.

And we have the Postmaster General's word for it that postal business is ever on the increase. Estimated national volume will go up 4 percent this year to a new all-time high of 61.1 billion pieces. Mr. Summerfield also points out that mail-volume increases are far outstripping population increases. In the past decade, for example, population was up about 19 percent, but mail volume was up about 55 percent.

All this can reasonably be assumed to mean that postal employees will be expected to work harder, produce more, and help to increase overall efficiency of postal operations. In the light of those expectations, certainly they should be worthy of their hire.

On the question of personnel turnover, these are but a few examples from the hundreds directed to our attention in recent months. Let me cite the case of Cleveland, Ohio. In the past 6 months, 1,200 accepted postal employment at that office and over 900 left the service. In Minneapolis, Minn., in 1956, there were 53 civil-service examinations; of the total number of successful candidates, only 1,353 could be persuaded to come in for an interview. Of that number, 526 accepted positions. By the end of the year, 320 had quit. In Glendale, Calif., an office with a total complement of 259, there were 153 employees who left the service in 1 year.

Might I digress from my statement to say in Pasadena, Calif., immediately adjacent to Los Angeles, with a total complement of 659 employees, 259 quits in 1956 or a percentage of 39.3 percent in turnover, and I might say that the postmaster, a longtime career postmaster at Pasadena, Calif., Mr. Ray Holmquist, stated that they are not the temporary people just coming into the service who are here for a year or so, but people with 10 and 12 years of service who were quitting in Pasadena, Calif., because of poor pay.

The same story can be duplicated for every section of the country. It is significant that postmasters recognize the problem facing them in their respective local offices. For the first time in my experience, these frontline postal administrators are coming out and putting their finger precisely on the sore spot in the postal establishment-low wages and poor morale.

At this point, I would like to insert in the record, if I may, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, the article taken from The Live-Wire, which is a postal publication in Los Angeles and which clearly points out that postmasters in Los Angeles County have told the entire story on the serious postal turnover, and here we have the postmasters themselves pointing up the need for recruitment, the need for improving the morale of the postal service and above all, the need for improving postal wages.

Senator NEUBERGER. Without objection, it will be included in the record.

(The above-mentioned article is as follows:)

LOS ANGELES COUNTY POSTMASTERS ASSOCIATION TELLS OF SERIOUS TURNOVER

The Los Angeles County Postmasters Association unanimously approved a mo. tion at their regular monthly meeting on March 14, 1957, to notify the chairman and all members of the Senate and House Post Office and Civil Service Commit. tee of the serious situation existing in practically all post offices in southern California which is becoming more and more acute.

"Practically all postmasters in southern California are confronted with a very serious problem that definitely jeopardizes the future of the postal service, is costly, and is very inefficient,” they noted.

"Man cannot live and support a family on loyalty alone; and we cannot expect to recruit competent, loyal, intelligent employees on the meager salary received in comparison with industry, city, county, and State positions. We are getting what we pay for; therefore we experience a 33 percent turnover. In all the cities we have checked, policemen and firemen start in at a salary exceeding the top grade of a clerk of carrier, and have a 20-year retirement plan,” the report continued.

"It is the unanimous opinion of the Los Angeles County Postmasters Association of the National Association of Postmasters of the United States that a thorough study of the salary structure should be made immediately to rectify the glaring inequities in order that the postal service will have a definite program to offer to reach the class of citizen that will be a credit to our Government.

"Many, many words have been used regarding efficiency or inefficiency, economy, etc., but we in the field know that the vast turnover we experience is both costly and inefficient. Until the inequalities existing in our competition with industry, city, and county are corrected, it will continue so.

"Not alone is the cost a factor, but what is worse is the decline of the high esteem the public has held of the postal service. We cannot long continue to offer excuses for complaints that mount up daily—the patience of the public can be strained only so far.

"We feel that this is the most vital issue in the post office today, to so set up a salary schedule that we can get young people of intelligence and loyalty eager to become postal employees as a life career. Then, and only then, can we give the service to which the patrons are entitled.

"It is a tragedy that we pay such a meager salary to the men who, day in and day out, work for the greatest service organization in existence. As vital representatives of our Government, they deserve better treatment,” the report stated.

Mr. DOHERTY. The Cordiner Report, referred to earlier in my testimony, gives this definition of a fair and decent salary:

Employees must receive sufficient compensation to enable them to establish and maintain a standard of living which will allow them to discharge their responsibilities to their families and to their employers.

We respectfully submit that letter carrier wages do not meet those norms, because the employee cannot conceivably share in a living standard predicated on an annual salary of $5,500 to $5,900, when he is among a group whose average annual wage is $4,345. The figures used in reference to living standards are quoted from the most recent Heller Budget Study, which referred to the minimum needs of a family of four people living in the San Francisco Bay region. The average annual letter carrier wage was taken from the printed testimony of the Post Office Department before the House Appropriations Committee last January

By the same token, an underpaid letter carrier cannot be expected to discharge his responsibilities to his family and to his employer, if he has to hold down two jobs and send his wife out to work in order to augment the family income. This is precisely the situation confronting too many of our members today.

We polled our membership and among the questions we asked was how any worked at an extra job, and how many wives were employed outside the home. The answers were disheartening to say the least.

In metropolitan areas, no doubt where higher living costs are to be found, but also where extra job opportunities are more prevalent, the figure was 55 to 60 percent of the total work force; another 35 percent reported their wives working outside the home. In connection with these last figures, it was significant that many replies took the trouble to note that more wives would seek employment except for the fact that school-age children presented an almost insurmountable problem in that direction. In other instances, the replies cited a lack of second job opportunities.

The unfavorable comparison these figures reflect is dramatically illustrated with data contained in a report recently published by the Department of Commerce. A survey was made to determine the number of workers dependent upon holding more than one job at the same time. The first study was made in July 1950, so states the report. At that time, 3 percent of the employee total held multiple jobs. The 1956 survey showed that 512 percent of the employee total held more than one job. It should not be difficult, therefore, to understand the frustration of our membership when about one-half of them have to work at a second job in order to maintain themselves and their families.

The expression is often used, "low morale”—but that term does not accurately describe the present situation in the letter carrier service. It would be more accurate to say that no morale exists; it has completely vanished from sight. And why is that? Many factors are involved, but we will confine ourselves to the part inadequate wages play in the situation.

How in heaven's name can the Postal Establishment expect to maintain morale and efficient operation when its employees merely have to read the paper to learn they are in the wrong business if they expect to provide decently for their families?

Mr. Chairman, I am not going to burden the record with all the data available on this particular facet of the overall subject under consideration. I should like, however, to mention 1 or 2 as examples taken at random from the many forwarded to me from our membership.

The most recent was a press clipping quoting Vice President Nixon as pointing to a $5,500 average annual salary for industrial workers in Flint, Mich. The Post Office Department in January of this year reported to the Congress that the average annual salary for letter carriers was $4,345.

From Massachusetts we received a report of the State department of commerce indicating that average factory worker weekly wages were $94.02 in Lynn, $93.25 in Everett, and $92.34 in Pittsfield. Many areas in New England, I should add, are recognized as “distress" areas. In Rhode Island, workers employed as common laborers have recently negotiated a $101 a week contract without overtime.

The average weekly wage in employment covered under unemployment insurance in the State of Michigan in 1956 was $96. In 46 northern California counties construction laborers are now receiving

$2.3212 an hour and they are working under a contract calling for an annual hourly wage of $3.2212 an hour at the end of 5 years.

Under the wage agreement between the United Auto Workers and the Cadillac Motor division, janitors and janitresses, who are the

« 이전계속 »