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The departmental report on the Zihlman bill (H. R. 8537) and the flat increases of $150 proposed in this bill follows:
OFFICE OF THE POSTMASTER GENERAL,
Washington, D. C., August 27, 1919. Hon. HALVOR STEENERSON, Chairman Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads,
House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: With reference to your request for the department's views with regard to the bill (H. R. 8537) introduced by Mr. Zihlman, to provide additional compensation for certain employees in the Postal Service, also the proposed amendment to provide a flat increase of $150 per annum for these employees, I wish to state that the proposed legislation does not have the approval of this department.
The employees of the Postal Service were granted temporary increases in salaries because of war conditions during the fiscal year 1918 of approximately $32,000,000, the increases in most cases being $200 each. These temporary increases have been continued during the current fiscal year and other additional increases granted in most instances of $100.
These increases had the approval of this department and were thoroughly satisfactory to the employees of the Postal Service when the act was approved February 28, 1919. In addition to these increases in compensation, the act also provided for the appointment of a congressional commission to make an investigation for the purpose of reclassifying the salaries in the Postal Service. This commission is now prosecuting its labors and will no doubt make a report early in December when the next regular session of Congress convenes.
The bill introduced by Mr. Zihlman, if enacted into law, would grant the employees in addition to what has already been granted, approximately $100,000,000 in increased compensation. If a flat increase of $150 for each employee is made, it would amount to approximately $40,000,000 for the current fiscal year.
Because of the increases already granted the revenues are insufficient to meet the expenditures in the Postal Service, and to grant the increases above would involve a deficit of approximately $100,000,000 during the current fiscal year, or, if the flat increase of $150 is made, a deficit of $40,000,000, and would place an additional burden upon the public of that amount, which would have to be borne by taxation or otherwise.
In determining whether these increases should be granted, a peculiar responsibility rests upon the Postmaster General. It is his duty to be fair to the postal employees and to the public as well. The Postal Service should not be conducted for profit, and the employees should be paid fair wages; but to grant these unreasonable increases would place upon the public an unjust burden.
The salaries in the Postal Service, like those of any other service where the salaries are standarized, may be inadequate in certain localities because of the extraordinary and unusual industrial conditions. The department recognizes this fact, and for that reason gave its approval to H. J. Res. 151, introduced by Mr. Madden, and which, if enacted into law, would enable the department to provide for the needs of the service. It would give the department authority to increase the salaries of the postal employees temporarily where it should be done. A few million dollars properly spent under this resolution would amply care for the needs of the service and enable the department to pay a just and fair
wage. There is no exigency in the Postal Service which would justify the proposed increases in salaries, and, therefore, they do not have the approval of this department. Very sincerely,
J. C. KOONS, Acting Postmaster General.
Cost of increased compensation for postal employees.
13,391 $6,300,000 27, 451 $14,500,000 2,029 $1,100,000 $21,900,000 Carriers..
3,200,000 28, 198 14,800,000 Assistant postmasters.
18,000,000 237 150,000 1, 101 700,000 490 Watchmen, messengers, and
250,000 1,100,000 laborers.
2,015 900,000 Printers, mechanics, and
900,000 skilled laborers.
30 14,000 22 11,000 Government-owned employ
1,539 635, 768 230 106, 967 10 Postmasters, $1,000 to $1,200 2,295
4, 800 747,535 1, 130,000 2,782 1,400,000 851 Auxiliary clerk hire..
410,000 2,940,000 2,400,000
2, 400,000 Auxiliary carrier service. 1,874, 286
1,874, 286 Total... Railway mail clerks.
49,886, 821 Rural carriers..
24, 179,000 Grand total..
84, 451, 496
INCREASED SALARIES OF POSTAL EMPLOYEES.
SEPTEMBER 2, 1919.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state
of the Union and ordered to be printed.
Mr. GOLDFOGLE, from the Committee on the Post Office and Post
Roads, submitted the following as the
VIEWS OF THE MINORITY.
[To accompany H. J. Res. 151.]
I emphatically dissent from the conclusion of the majority of the Post Office Committee to provide an increase temporarily in the pay of the postal employees mentioned in the committee amendment to H. J. Res. 151 of only $150 per annum. Such an increase will be grossly inadequate in amount and unscientific and unmethodical in its allotment and distribution. It utterly fails to meet the situation which in the light of the high and increased cost of living requires, as a matter of fairness and common justice to the postal workers, a higher increase and better wages, so that under present conditions they may be enabled to properly, comportable with American living standards, maintain themselves and their dependent families.
House Joint Resolution 151, as originally introduced by Mr. Madden, is conceded by the latter and every one of the committee to be wholly inexpedient. The author of it therefore now proposes a substitute, with which the majority of the committee agree, to provide this temporary flat increase of $150, except that certain auxiliary clerks and substitute carriers shall have 60 cents per hour. House Joint Resolution No. 181, introduced by me, provides for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1919, an increase of 35 per cent of the salary or compensation of each employee (except substitutes, who are to receive at the rate of 80 cents per hour).
Had the committee allowed hearings on these measures, which are not merely important to employees but seriously affect the efficiency and morale of the service itself, the general membership of the House doubtless would have been furnished with ample data necessitating as well as justifying the percentage increase provided by H J. Res. 181. The committee saw fit to deny hearings, and thus to some extent placed the men so seriously affected by the question involved at more or less disadvantage in presenting by way of hearings to the individual membership of the House figures which demonstrate the immediate necessity for a real, substantial percentage increase of pay.
However, this much is clear. Skilled labor, mechanics, artisans, etc., are getting an average hourly compensation of over 81 cents; trained and expert employees in banking, commercial, insurance, railroad, steamship, and other industrial concerns an average hourly compensation of over 80 cents; common and unskilled labor of whom no mental effort is required) average an hourly compensation of 55 cents, while post-office clerks and letter carriers receive an average hourly compensation of but 48} cents.
To give employees such as the clerks and carriers mentioned in the committee report the meager and temporary increase of $150 means they will receive an hourly compensation of a little less than 54 cents, or in other words, 1 cent less per hour than is paid to the unskilled and common labor in the land.
Again, the man long in service whose excellent record has brought him to the present maximum of pay will under the plan proposed by the committee receive no more than an employee greatly junior in time of service and receiving minimum pay.
Surely the comparison of the figures is odious. It does no credit to our Government, which ought to be foremost in paying decent and sufficient wages to those in a service requiring fidelity, competency, intelligence, efficiency, and hard work.
Labor statistics show the almost universal custom in the varied industries and occupations of paying for all time in excess of eight hours daily at the rate of time plus one-half of the regular rate of pay and double time for all service on Sundays, holidays, and Saturday afternoons. This is not so in the Postal Service. Here again exists an inequality.
Even with the $150 increase proposed, the postal employee, such as regular clerk or carrier, would, in so far as compensation is concerned, be given less consideration by his Government than is given by private employers to the unskilled and common laborer. Such a condition is abhorrent to every sense of justice. It is violative of those rules of business which to promote efficiency and square dealing guide men in the administration of their business affairs.
Reference has been made to the increased cost of living. The larger number of men affected by the measure reside in the cities where cost of living is ever on the increase, and somehow keeps soaring higher. Rents there have become excessive. In many places in the large cities the rental price has to these men of small salaries become almost prohibitive. Despite legislative and administrative devices proposed the profiteer is still plying his game, and men of small means and meager earnings are unfortunately the surest victims. But without considering that condition at all, the fact remains that everywhere--whether in city, town, or village cost of living has vastly increased. The percentage of increases in the commodities of life are staggering. Food over 85 per cent, clothing about 100 per cent and threatening to go higher, fuel, heat, and light about 57 per cent, and so on with all other necessities. In fact, a conservative estimate is that cost of living approximates over 87 per cent above that in prewar times. Yet the postal men's pay has not by any means kept paco.
For purposes of this minority report it is unnecessary to go into further or more extended details of the cost increases of the necessities of life. With the present pay, even plus the small increase the committee proposes, the problem of how the postal workers can provide for themselves and families according to the standard of an American wage earner's living, rear children, meet occasionally expense incident to sickness or other misfortune, and get even a small modicum of comfort out of life must, indeed, be vexed and difficult of solution.
There is another highly important problem involved in this matter of salaries. It gravely concerns the efficiency of the service. Never before were there so many resignations and withdrawals from the Postal Service as now, and this is due to inadequacy of pay. Time was when in New York and other large cities, from 1,000 to 1,500 and more were found on the list of applicants for clerks and carriers anxious for appointment. Now the number has fallen into insignificant figures.
The standard of civil-service examinations has been lowered so that a sufficient supply of persons can be obtained to enter the service. In New York and other cities men can do better with such qualifications as really fit them for clerks or carriers, than enter a service that gives them an inadequate wage, and then leaves them nothing in sight for the day when sickness or infirmities of age may overtake them. Such a condition tends to lower the standard of efficiency which is absolutely necessary for the proper handling, transmission, and delivery of mail, in which the whole people, individually as well as collectively, are and ought to be concerned.
It has been urged in opposition to granting a substantial percentage increase-even a 25 per cent for regular employees and 75 cents per hour for substitutes, that it would take too great a sum from the Treasury. Such an answer by those who give it assumes a small conception of the views of the American people on this subject of pay to the mail men. They do not and will not begrudge giving a well-deserve increase.
The people generally recognize the fact that the postal employees are the poorest paid men in the Government service and desire to have this unfair condition remedied by a substantial increase. Το fail to give the relief the men so sorely need at this time to supply their real needs is unbecoming a great Nation, and merits condemnation. The pittance of $150 per annum proposed by the committee is in the light of living requirements a mere sop which can not serve to satisfy the just demands of the service.
The American people as a whole are not so narrow or ungracious as to deny to those who served them so well as the postal men a decent living wage sufficient to provide them with what the necessities of life in their situation at present requires.
It is respectfully submitted that the increase should be as provided in H. J. Res. 181.
HENRY M. GOLDFOGLE.