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RURAL LETTER CARRIERS

May 31, 1935.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state

of the Union and ordered to be printed

Mr. BURCH, from the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads,

submitted the following

REPORT

[To accompany H. R. 7936]

The Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads, having had under consideration the bill (H. R. 7936) to adjust the salaries of rural letter carriers, and for other purposes, report the same back to the House with the following amendments:

After the word "sentence" at the beginning of line 10, page 1, strike out In case of carriers serving on routes thirty miles or less in length, rendering service to an average of twelve or more boxes per mile, the base mileage pay shall be $70 per mile per annum. and insert in lieu thereof: The Postmaster General may, in his discretion, allow and pay additional compensation to rural letter carriers serving heavily patronized routes not exceeding thirty-eight miles in length, such addit'onal compensation not to exceed the sum of ten dollars per annum for each mile served.

Strike out all of section 3 of the bill.

Strike out “Sec. 4.” in line 1, page 3, and insert "Sec. 3." in lieu thereof.

So amended, the committee recommends that the bill do pass.

The first section of the bill provides additional compensation for rural letter carriers serving heavily patronized routes. The amend. ment suggested by the committee would make this extra compensation discretionary with the Postmaster General, just as is now the case in allowing extra pay to rural letter carriers who are required to carry pouch mail to intermediate post offices, or for intersecting loop routes, in all instances where it appears that the carriage of such pouches increases the expense of the equipment required by the carrier or materially increases the amount of labor performed by him. This amendment was adopted by the committee following hearings on the bill and the receipt of additional i nformation from the office of the Second Assistant Postmaster General as printed below:

Post OFFICE DEPARTMENT,

Washington, D. C., May 25, 1935. Hon. James M. MEAD, Chairman Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads,

House of Representatives. My Dear MR. MEAD: At the request of Mr. Burch, chairman of the subcommittee, I made a suggestion as to the language to be used in any proposed legislation to adjust the salaries of rural letter carriers insofar as it applied to the adequate compensation for carriers on heavily populated routes. The suggestion was incorporated in H. R. 7936 as section 1, and reads as follows: “The Postmaster General may, in his discretion, allow and pay additional compensation to rural letter carriers serving heavily patronized routes not exceeding 38 miles in length, such additional compensation not to exceed the sum of $10 per annum for each mile served.”

I am advised that the committee accepted the suggestion but changed the length of the routes covered by this proposed legislation from 38 to 30 miles, and I wish to place before you briefly the reason for suggesting that routes up to and including 38 miles in length be considered When I suggested that the provision include routes up to 38 miles in length I had before me a list of the heavily patronized routes and I find there are 39 of these routes that exceed 30 miles in length, ranging all the way from 31 to 38 miles. One route at New Haven, Conn., 37.7 miles in length, serves 501 boxes and the carrier on the route spends more than 7 hours each day including his office time in serving same. A route at Cold Springs, Ky., 33.74 miles in length, serves 686 boxes, one at Stemmers Run, Md., 34 miles in length, serves 656 boxes, one at Atlanta, Ga., 33.2 miles in length, serves 564 boxes, one at Crisfield, Md., 35 miles in length, serves 467 boxes, one at St. Louis, Mo., 31.3 miles in length, serves 517 boxes and the carrier on this route is engaged 8 hours and 30 minutes each day, one at Coldwater, N. Y., is 33.35 miles in length and serves 747 boxes, one at Buffalo, N. Y., 31 miles in length, serves 524 boxes and the carrier is employed 8 hours and 30 minutes each day on an average, and one at Bay Village, Ohio, 30.8 miles in length, supplies 670 boxes.

There are many other routes throughout the country which exceed 30 miles in length where the patronage is heavy and there are a number of routes 29 and 30 miles in length which would lose any protection if they were extended a mile or so, increasing their length above 30 miles.

Since the provisions of the bill would leave it to the discretion of the Postmaster General as to what the increased compensation should be, up to the maximum allowable, there would be no harm in including routes up to and including 38 miles in length. It is true that the carrier on a 38-mile route receives compensation for the 8 miles above the standard length of 30 miles, but we could graduate any additional compensation allowed to suit the conditions existing on each route.

İf the 30-mile limit remains in any legislation enacted, there will be a great many carriers who will not be adequately taken care of and the organization will be back again for some change in the law. I believe that it would be fair and adequate to leave the limitation at 38 miles and let the Department work out the compensation that should be allowed the carriers in each particular case. This will give us considerable work but we are willing to assume the responsibility. Sincerely yours,

(Signed) J. M. DONALDSON,

Acting Second Assistant Postmaster General. Section 2 of the bill is to correct by legislation a condition existing as the result of a decision rendered by the Comptroller General (decision A-56413) in interpreting the act of June 25, 1934, to adjust the salaries of rural letter carriers. In this decision the Comptroller General ruled that the saving clause in the act of 1934, protecting rural carriers against reductions of more than $180 in the readjustment of their salaries under the act, does not apply upon the transfer of the carrier from one route to another. The committee believes that all rural carriers who were in the service before the passage of the reclassification act last June are entitled in the event of a transfer to another rural route to the protection of this saving clause, limiting loss of salary.

Section 3 of the bill provides that when a vacancy on a route of greater length than 60 miles occurs by reason of resignation, death, retirement, or dismissal on charges, of carriers in the Rural Mail Delivery Service, the route shall be by readjustment reduced to 60 miles or less and the excess mileage shall be distributed between routes of less than 60 miles. The committee is suggesting the elimination of this section in view of the Post Office Department's objection to the limitation and the suggestion that the question of the length of rural routes continue to be left to the Department's discretion because of the many problems involved due to the varying conditions throughout the country.

Section 4 of the bill provides that the proposed legislation shall become effective on the first day of the calendar month next following the month in which it is enacted. The Postmaster General's report on the bill is as follows:

OFFICE OF THE PostMASTER GENERAL,

May 22, 1935. Hon. James M. MEAD, Chairman Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads,

House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. MEAD: The receipt is acknowledged of your letter of the 8th nstant, requesting a report on H. R. 6724, H. R. 7778, and H. R. 7946, all relating to the adjustment of salaries of rural letter carriers.

H. R. 6724 proposes to increase the equipment-maintenance allowance from 5 cents to 6 cents per mile per day. The equipment-maintenance allowance was increased from 4 to 5 cents by the act approved June 25, 1934. If this allowance is increased to 6 cents it would increase the annual cost of operating the Rural Delivery Service by approximately $4,125,000. It is our opinion that the present equipment-maintenance allowance is adequate and the increased cost proposed is not justified at this time.

Section 4 of this bill provides that when a vacancy occurs on an existing rural route of greater length than 60 miles, the route shall be readjusted by reducing it to 60 miles or less, the excess mileage being distributed to routes of less than 60 miles. There are approximately 35,000 routes in the United States and more than onc-third of this number are under 30 miles in length. There are only about 1,400 routes that exceed 60 miles in length. More than 80 percent of the present existing routes are under 50 miles in length. The Department believes that the question of the length of rural routes should be an administrative matter because there are so many problems involved due to the varying cor:ditions throughout the country that it would not be in the public interest to limit the length of routes to some particular mileage. For instance, if only one route 60 miles in length emanated from an office and there was a petition from persons who were not receiving adequate service for the extension of this existing route, the extension could not be made, and if there was not sufficient territory for the establishment of another route, these patrons could never get rural delivery service. If a vacancy occurred on a route more than 60 miles in length and this happened to be the only route emanating from that particular office, it might be physically impossible to reduce the mileage without withdrawing service from some of the patrons. This would be especially true if there were no other adjacent routes to which this excessive mileage could be distributed. Such limitation might also result in the establishment of a great many short routes in order to afford service to people not now enjoying it. It is believed that the question of fixing the mileage of rural routes should be left to the Department as an administrative matter. It would be in the public interest to do so.

Bill H. R. 7778 contains three objectionable features. Section 8 on page 1, as proposed to be amended, provides that on routes less than 30 miles, the pay of the carriers is to be $60 per mile per annum for each mile or fraction thereof, except where the carrier on such route serves an average of 12 or more boxes per mile, in which case the base rate of pay shall be $70 per mile per annum. As there are some rural routes more than 30 miles in length on which the number of boxes served greatly exceed an average of 12 per mile, and as the amount of work required by the rural carrier is affected largely by the amount of mail handled and the number of boxes served, it is believed that the Department should be allowed

H. Repts., 74-1, vol. 276

some discretion in determining whether there should be an increase in salary and the amount warranted. This

proposed amendment is based upon the complaint of carriers serving routes suburban to large cities where the patronage is heavy. Any increased pay to carriers on such routes, based upon the amount of mail carried or the number of boxes served, would provide an avenue through which the carrier could bring about an increase in his salary by reporting incorrectly the total number of pieces of mail handled or by soliciting patrons to errect boxes on his route. There are instances on almost each and every route where three or four families receive mail through the same box and if the carrier was so disposed he could solicit such families to erect separate individual boxes with the idea of increasing his compensation. Our records indicate that there are only 255 of these suburban routes with heavy patronage and apparently only 104 of these carriers are engaged more than 72 hours each day, including their office time. If it is found advisable to enact some legislation for the purpose of increa ing the compensation of carriers on these heavy suburban routes it would be more simple, from an administrative standpoint, if authority were given the Postmaster General, in his discretion, to allow and pay additional compensation to rural carriers serving such routes, such increased allowance in each particular case to be determined by the Department in accordance with the existing conditions on each such route, but not to exceed a certain amount per mile.

Section 3, paragraph b of this bill is objectionable for the same reasons as were stated in connection with a similar provision of H. R. 7264, that is the matter fixing the maximum length of rural routes. Such a limitation might result in denying rural delivery service to many would-be patrons.

Section 4 of the bill is objectionable for the same reason.

H. R. 7936 proposes to amend section 8 of the present law much the same as the same section in H. R. 7778. The objections to this proposed amendment are the same as set out above with reference to H. R. 7778.

Section 2 of H. R. 7936 proposes to amend the so-called "savings clause" of the act of June 25, 1934. Under the present legislation a carrier in the service on July 1, 1934, who is serving a 6 days a week route of less than 30 miles in length or who serves a 3 days a week route of less than 60 miles in length, cannot be reduced in salary by more than $180 per annum. Since the passage of the act of June 25, 1934, the Comptroller General has ruled that this applies to carriers in the service at the time the act became effective and not to any carriers appointed thereafter. He has also ruled that it does not apply to a carrier whose assignment is changed, even though he was in the service at the time this law became effective. It was apparently the intent of Congress to protect the carriers in the service at the time this act was passed and those serving routes of less than 30 miles in length. It evidently was anticipated that any change in the assignment of a carrier or the redesignation of route numbers would affect the salaries of the carriers in the service at the time this law became effective. There can be no serious objection to an amendment to the existing law for the protection of those carriers. There are, however, only a few instances where the Comptroller's decision has operated to the disadvantage of a carrier assigned to a short route at the time this law became effective, and if the amendment to the present law was made retroactive, it would be very difficult for the Department to make adjustments due to the fact that there have been so many consolidations since July 1, 1934. Any amendment to the existing law to protect the carriers on routes under 30 miles in length, who were in the service on July 1, 1934, should not, therefore, be retroactive, but should be so worded as to be operative on and after a given date.

Section 3 of H. R. 7936 is objectionable for the reasons stated in connection with similar provisions of the other bills discussed. The item covering the cost for Rural Free Delivery Service in the Appropriation Act for the fiscal year 1936 does not anticipate any new legislation increasing the cost of the service. The Department does not favor any legislation during this session of Congress which would tend to increase the cost of the Rural Delivery Service, except with reference to the short heavy routes and a modification of the so-called "savings clause" in the present law. Very truly yours,

(Signed) JAMES A. FARLEY,

Postmaster General

CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

In compliance with paragraph 2a of rule XIII of the House, the changes proposed by the bill in existing law are shown as follows (the matter proposed to be stricken out by the bill is shown in black brackets and the new matter proposed to be inserted by the bill is shown by italics; the existing law in which no change is proposed is shown in roman):

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