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conflict in progress within the jurisdiction of T. V. A., which was costly, expensive, and detrimental. That, happily, is over with now, and I don't believe that there is very much favoritism left in the T. V. A.
But placed on a Nation-wide basis, from the very beginning in both construction work and permanent operating work, it might have been better under the civil service.
I am just bringing out some of the thoughts that came to us while we were down there looking into it.
The older worker problem recommended itself to me. pointed out that some of the civil-service regulations required that people be as young as 35 years of age, and, of course, that can't be true democracy when a citizen of our country, who is 45 years of age, or even 50 years of age, is eligible for appointment to the Senate or the House of Representatives, or the Presidency, and yet not eligible for the position of laborer or clerk or carrier or customs inspector in the service.
It seems to me that we ought to be extremely liberal in setting an example for private enterprise which would remove this burden from the older workers' future.
Mr. VIPOND. Senator, not knowing the facts as to the T. V. A. I am quite certain that if the average age of their staff of employees was taken, it would be found to be considerably lower than the average age in the Federal Government.
Senator MEAD. And yet they made exceptions because they presented to us skilled men in their employ who are far too old to take a civil-service examination.
Mr. VIPOND. We are holding examinations now with a maximum age limit of 60 for positions in the navy yard, because they need to get people.
Senator MEAD. Because of the great war emergency.
Mr. VIPOND. They will serve 5 or 10 years beyond retirement age that Congress has fixed for their positions.
Senator MEAD. I want to compliment you for that, but that is probably because of the war emergency. It should be common in all examinations, whether there is an emergency or not.
Mr. VIPOND. The average age of Government employees, over 400,000 of them in 1935, was shown to be 42-plus years, and onequarter of all the Government employees at that time were past 50 years of age, a very high average age, far beyond industry's average age.
Senator MEAD. Probably that is true, but in view of the fact that they are all citizens, I think that we ought to require an examination with reference to their skill and training and their physical condition, but I think that this age limit qualification ought to be almost annihilated. We find an ever-increasing army of men between 40 and 60 that are just walking around blindly, men and women, with no friends at all in the employer class. I think that we ought to make a study of its effect upon our retirement system and provide a method of retirement so that they could qualify. If they could pass an oral and physical examination and are citizens of the country, then they ought to be given an opportunity for appointment, regardless of age.
At least a very liberal extension of the age requirements ought to be approved.
Mr. VIPOND. The Commission is constantly working with the departments. We don't fix the age limits ourselves. Under the rules they have to be fixed in cooperation with the appointing officers, and the Commission is constantly endeavoring to get the departments to agree to a higher age limit.
Senator MEAD. Fine.
Mr. VIPOND. But some of them just have, apparently, the facts with them. They say that in anything that involves manual dexterity, a person appointed who is past 35 years of age just isn't a good employee; it takes a long, long time to train that employee, and he or she never reaches the maximum production speed that the younger person reaches.
Senator MEAD. Could you recall for us the youngest age requirement that has been included in an examination within the past year or two?
Mr. VIPOND. For messenger boy or girl it has been 25; for railway postal clerk, where they work on the cars, it is 35 years; for clerk and carrier in the post office, it is 45 years; for rural carrier it is 50 or 53 years. And those are reached in agreement with the Post Office Department. The Department wouldn't agree to any higher age limits in those fields.
The apprentice position is normally 21, not as the maximum age limit for examination, that age limit is usually 16 to 20, but when a boy reaches his twenty-first birthday he goes off the list because he is past the apprentice age.
Senator MEAD. Of course, a messenger and an apprentice indicates the necessity for the employment of some youth, but I see no reason for a 35 or 40 or 45 age limit in any service that you have mentioned. I think it is an unfair prohibition against good, wholesome, patriotic Americans, and it shouldn't be countenanced.
I think that any man who is capable of passing the other qualifications ought to be entitled to a position within the service of the United States.
Take, for instance, the disabled war veterans' provisions of the law. They permit the holding of extraordinary examinations at any time.
Mr. VIPOND. Quarterly examinations are held for the disabled veterans.
Senator MEAD. I think that is a good practice.
Senator MEAD. That is right. I think we ought to waive the age limit for every citizen, where he is qualified otherwise for the various services you have mentioned. Thirty-five years, I think, is unfortunate, unfair, and unwise.
Mr. VIPOND. Of course, there are very, very few examinations that have 35 as the maximum age limit.
Senator MEAD. There should not be any.
Senator MEAD. I said a moment ago that apprentices and messengers indicated that we were looking for young people.
Mr. VIPOND. But you see, if any law should be passed that there should be no maximum age limit, there would be apprentices at 50 years of age for the trades.
Senator Mead. We would exempt messengers and apprentices from this discussion; I am talking about the older-worker problem as it is and as it applies to the rank-and-file positions. I hope that you will exert an ever-increasing interest and influence with the departments in extending and liberalizing the age limit.
Mr. VIPOND. The Commission is constantly doing that. Senator MEAD. The Senate, on two different occasions, as a result of a bill introduced by Senator Moore on one occasion, and by myself on another, went on record unanimously favoring the elimination of all age limits as a means of qualifying for an examination for a position.
Mr. VIPOND. But, Senator, under either of those bills, apprentices would get in without regard to age limit.
Senator MEAD. That wouldn't be necessary; but in any event it wouldn't be as much of a discrimination as now exists. However, continue your efforts to increase age limits, and I will be very happy and be glad to support you and cooperate with you.
Mr. FLEMMING. Senator, may I underline what Mr. Vipond has said?
I have been impressed with the fact that as our representatives have been dealing with the operating departments on that problem, their whole emphasis has been in the direction of a liberalization of those particular requirements.
I would like to comment on two or three of the points that you have made in connection with the T. V. A. situation.
I feel that quite a number of the points that you mentioned in the first instance are points which, if, let us say, in the beginning the T. V. A. had been subject to civil-service rules and regulations, and the Civil Service Act, the Commission, and the Authority could have sat down across the table and worked out those problems to the complete satisfaction of those who carry the operating load.
I want to underline what Mr. Vipond said. There is a great deal of flexibility in the Federal Civil Service system, I think much more so than in connection with a great many Štate and municipal civilservice systems. Congress, in its basic act, gave the President and the Commission considerable flexibility, and I believe that it would have been possible to have worked out those problems satisfactorily, provided, of course, that the operating department in that instance, as in all instances, was willing to keep in mind the fact that we must operate in terms of an open competitive system. I think that if the T. V. A.'s personnel problems had been worked out in this manner it would have eliminated whatever trace there might have been at the time your committee was investigating the matter, or at any time, of the personal favoritism angle, as far as appointments are concerned. Wherever we can eliminate that factor, we are making a contribution toward the strengthening of the democratic institutions that we are all interested in.
Senator MEAD. I agree with you that you are doing a very good job, but there are some cases where we have got to step on it and try to improve. Mr. VIPOND. Yes. The CHAIRMAN. Have you anything further, Mr. Vipond? Mr. VIPOND. No, sir.
Mr. FLEMMING. I have nothing further. The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions? (No response.)
The CHAIRMAN. Now, Mr. Winters, you may proceed with your presentation. STATEMENT OF GEORGE O. WINTERS, NATIONAL VICE PRESIDENT
OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FEDERAL MECHANICS
Mr. WINTERS. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, our committee represents the National Association of Federal Mechanics. The members here of my committee this morning are all employees of the Federal Government. We work in the buildings here and in various trade crafts.
We are all journeymen. Before we can come into the service we must have served our apprenticeship of 4 years' service. We must also have had at least 2 years' journeyman work in some private institution. Therefore, when we come to work for the Government we cost them nothing; we come here thoroughly experienced in our line of endea vor.
We are not opposed to the extension of the Classification Act. We are not opposed to the civil-service laws as Congress so intended them to be administered, but we are opposed to some portions of H. R. 960.
The particular portion to which we object is under title II, subsection 12. That refers to the skilled mechanics.
Our interpretation of that is that it merely brings the mechanical force into the classified service in the field. It doesn't affect this group in Washington at all, but it brings this group in from the field services on the same basis of pay that we have in the Government, or in the District of Columbia, as custodial employees.
We feel that we are highly skilled artisans in our particular trades and crafts, and that we should not be classified in the service with bakers, laundry workers, char force, and so forth, and so on.
We, therefore, want to offer this amendment to this bill, and have it incorporated under title II, if H. R. 960 must pass the Senate in some form. We would like to have this amendment added :
Provided further, There shall be established a mechanical service within the Classification Act of 1925, as amended, to include all classes of positions within a recognized trade and craft, also oilers, firemen, helpers to mechanics, and supervisors, the duties of which are to construct, maintain, repair, and work which is subordinate, incidental, or preparatory to work of professional, scientific, or technical character; and to supervise and operate Government property and to maintain and repair Government-owned buildings, Governmentleased buildings, Government-operated buildings, and to install, maintain, repair, and operate equipment in Government-owned buildings, Government-leased buildings, and Government-operated buildings and on Government property within the District of Columbia and in the field service.
The positions and compensations in this mechanical service shall be the same as established for identical positions and compensations in the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
We use that as the basis of an amendment, and I would like to pass these charts around to the gentlemen.
On the basis of this amendment that I just read, I would like to read a paragraph from a letter written to the Honorable Robert Ramspeck, chairman, Committee on the Civil Service of the House of Representatives, dated May 10, 1939, which is a letter from the Civil Service Commission in reference to a bill that was introduced in the House by ex-Congressman Chandler from Tennessee. It was H. R. 5496. In reporting on this bill the Commission had this to say, which I think will lead them to agree that the proposed amendment is necessary :
Nor has the Commission any objection to the grade definitions of the proposed Mechanical Service. They seem to be fairly well drafted and are in a form which sets guide lines without rigid detail. In this respect, they are in fact an improvement over the existing grade definitions in the Custodial Service.
I would like to have the entire letter incorporated in the record. The CHAIRMAN. That may be done. (The letter referred to is as follows:)
UNITED STATES CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION,
Washington, D. C., May 10, 1939. Hon. ROBERT RAMSPECK, Chairman, Committee on the Civil Service,
House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: With further reference to your letter of April 17, 1939, receipt of which was acknowledged April 20, we are submitting the following comments on H. R. 5496, a bill to amend the Classification Act of March 4, 1923, as amended, to create a Mechanical Service, and for other purposes. This is a companion bill to S. 1537 upon which we rendered a report to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Civil Service dated March 17, 1939.
The effect of H. R. 5496, upon becoming law, would be as follows:
1. A new major classification grouping, to be known as the Mechanical Service, would be established under the Classification Act of 1923. Positions now allocated to the Custodial Service, the duties of which fall in recognized trades and crafts engaged in the construction, installation, maintenance, repair, or operation of buildings, property, or equipment, or in the craft supervision of such activities, would, on the effective date of the act, July 1, 1939, be placed in the new Mechanical Service in their appropriate grades. (Secs. 1, 2, 3, and 13.)
2. Since section 10 continues all provisions of the Classification Act of 1923, except as specifically amended in the bill, the grade allocations of positions in the Mechanical Service would be made under the usual procedure. That is, if the positions are in the departmental service in Washington, the allocations would be made under section 4 of the Classification Act through recommendations by the departments and final action by the Civil Service Commission; if the positions are in the field service, the action of the departments would be effective without reference to the Commission.
3. New grade definitions and new scales of pay for the Mechanical Service would go into effect on July 1, 1939. (Secs. 4 to 8, inclusive.)
4. The precise salary that each incumbent would receive initially on July 1, 1939, on the basis of the new pay scales, would be determined under the rules of section 6 of the Classification Act of 1923, except that no reduction of any employee's salary shall be caused thereby. (Secs. 10 and 11.)
5. Each fiscal year thereafter departments having positions within the Mechanical Service would make allotments out of their appropriations to provide salary increases within the grades, in accordance with the provisions of the Classification Act in this respect. (Sec. 9.)
H. R. 5496 is like S. 3683, introduced in the Seventy-fifth Congress, third session, on which the Commission wrote report to the Senate Committee on Civil Service dated April 7, 1938, in which we advised the committee, on the basis of information secured from the Bureau of the Budget, that the bill would not be in accord with the financial and administrative program of the President.
It will be observed that H. R. 5496 proposes amendments to the Classification Act of 1923 that are to be effective within the general structure of that act. The general administrative features and the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission to make final allocations of positions in the departmental service in the District of Columbia are maintained by section 10. In this respect, H. R. 5496 conforms to good legislative and executive policy.
The proposal to create an additional classification service, furthermore, does not conflict with any basic concept underlying the Classification Act itselt.