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The majority of these persons are ones who answered the call of their country during the World War, and are now over 35 years of age. They have a permanent status through a competitive examination. They had left the service for one reason or another, and today circumstances demand they seek employment, so naturally they turn to the Federal service, where in the past they rendered efficient service and have good service records.
In recent years, personnel officers in the Federal departments have been much adverse to considering persons for reinstatement, giving various types of excuses. One is, “that it takes too long to put a reinstatement through the Civil Service Commission", another. “that the applicant is now over 35 (or 40) years of age.” Frequently they refer to the latter as the policy of the bureau, office, or department.
Senator Mead referred on last Friday to this when he addressed the representatives of the Civil Service Commission and asked them to correct this condition and situation.
The Civil Service Commission has no jurisdiction to correct this situation. They only certify applicants who have passed their examinations and qualified for appointment to agencies where vacancies exist.
It is true the Civil Service Commission in announcing examinations where they have no established register, or standards, will call upon an agency, or its officials, to set up the standards, ages, types of questions, and so forth for the examination and outline other qualifications. They also will certify to the departments those who are appointed under the W. P. A. or P. W. A. administrative rolls who have no civil-service status or rating-approve their appointmentbut recently they have gone so far as to permit persons from these same agencies to "sit in" as the "examining board" with one official, an examiner, from the Civil Service Commission, to pass on the eligibles. This latter situation is grossly unfair. It should not be permitted that officials of agencies pass on the right to or denial of a position to an applicant under such circumstances. They may have their favorites and only persons with “inside” connections will be able to make the grade.
In February or March 1936—when the Replacement Division of the W. P. A. was moved into the main office of the W. P. A.—the following mode of selection was adopted: Persons between the ages of 35 to 60 were never sent out on call where vacancies occurred. It was then established from an authoritative source that the office was only following instructions promulgated by the President to the department heads. It was a verbal order, not the usual Executive order.
On several occasions I have had occasion to take up this factor and its cruel injustice with members of the White House staff and it has always been readily admitted that "it was the policy of the Administration adopted by the Departments and the President would not interfere"-admitting that the President was aware of this vicious practice.
So it would seem that Senator Mead's efforts should be in the direction of persuading the President to take the necessary steps to abolish this practice and give every man and woman the opportunity which is rightfully theirs under the Constitution, of earning a livelihood, particularly in government service, as an example to private
concerns and industry. No relief con be obtained until the Chief Executive exerts his influence and countermands this verbal order.
When a person desires to be reinstated today, his name is not placed on a "register" in the Civil Service Commission. It is necessary that he go from Department to Department and endeavor to have some personnel officer request his appointment. If over 35 years of age, the applicant has absolutely no chance whatever. If he should be so fortunate as to have some personnel officer favorably consider an applicant for reinstatement, he is reinstated either under rule 8 (which permits his name to go on a reemployment register if he should be dropped for lack of funds, and so forth) or under rule 9, which does not permit his name to go on any register if he should be dropped. Then again, if he is over 35, he is very lucky if he even gets a temporary position of from 30 to 90 days. Then again it will be under rule 8 or rule 9 and when the appointment expires, he then has to tramp the streets and offices looking for other employment.
In connection with temporary appointments some temporary status extends into 3 or more years. This is very unfair and an injustice to the employee. While in this “temporary” status, there are many privileges of a citizen which are denied him in the mercantile world. His credit is at a standstill, no one will extend him any credit, besides his reputation for stability is greatly injured. There are very few real-estate brokers in town here, or elsewhere, who will rent apartments to persons in temporary positions.
After 3 months if the work requires the continuation of the employee's services, he should be put on a permanent status. Many of the personnel officers look with disfavor upon applicants who have served in several temporary positions. They believe them to be inefficient.
Since most persons seeking employment have served in the War or Navy Department, during the World War, why should they not be entitled to military preference when applying for employment? I have heard rumors that the C. S. C. has granted the preference. They served their country in time of war the same as the soldier. The Navy Department granted this preference to its civilian personnel. A register should be established so that eligible former Federal employees may be certified before those who are to be considered under H. R. 960, or those seeking an eligibility by recent examination are appointed and certified to existing vacancies in any department of the Federal Service by the Civil Service Commission.
Another factor I would like to bring out is this:
The United Federal Workers organization has been making objections to consideration of former Federal employees seeking reinstatement, and their appointments to any position except in the lowest grade, until such other vacancies have been advertised through the bureau, office, or department and notices placed on the bulletin boards for a week or 2 weeks in order that those on the “inside" should have the first opportunity to apply for these positions. Their stand is, that those on the "inside" should have the preference for promotions rather than those who have already served their probationary time, rendered adequate, satisfactory service previously, and are experienced in Government procedure. It is their contention that the former employee should start in the lowest position and work upstart where he did when he first entered the service 10, 15, or more years
ago. They also place these notices on the bulletin boards of their headquarters in order that those from other bureaus may be informed and request transfer to these positions if interested, to the disadvantage of nonmembers of their organization.
The U. F. W. has insisted so strenuously upon this procedure that it practically amounts to duress upon the Department officials and personnel officers, who find unless they acquiesce and follow the advice and instructions, as laid down by the U. F. W., they will be much annoyed and harassed.
Consequently, in most Government agencies the U. F. W. policy is being followed. It is true, the organization has brought about some improvement in some departments. Its policies have been endorsed by other employee organizations for years, but were entirely ignored or very nearly so.
As a result of long unemployment and their efforts so unavailing, many of these former Federal employees have recently been compelled to seek relief from private relief agencies. Certainly this is no incentive for any person to follow Government work as a career or the making of a good citizen. Besides it was a great drain on the resources of the relief agencies who should use their funds for relief of their own taxpayers.
Something should be done to assist these former clerks, and at once. While these former employees are humiliated as relief clients, the Civil Service Commission is sending out and bringing into Washington applicants from the far West for temporary positions, who, after visualizing the glamorous picture painted for them of permanency in a Government position, leave the positions in their home cities (at times some of these home-city positions are at the same salary and permanent) for the insecure temporary position here in Washington, only to find at the end of a short temporary appointment, they are miles away from home, without funds, and many times a remote chance of obtaining an appointment unless under 35 years. Such a person is unemployed, but at that he has a better chance of securing employment than the former Federal employee with 10 or more years' previous service.
Why two Replacement or Placement Bureaus? The W. P. A. Replacement Bureau caters to civil-service employees as well as emergency personnel. Today they pass over all persons over 35 years of age, except in technical or mechanical trades and the professions, and then will take the inexperienced in preference to the more experienced if someone can qualify who is on their register below 35 years of age.
This Bureau properly belongs to the Civil Service Commission, and for efficiency and assistance to the great public it should be allocated there. It would save the unemployed worker, who, many times is without funds and food, much energy and time, and no doubt, prove much more satisfactory to the public and make for better efficiency. Its transfer to the Civil Service Commission would entail practically no addition to their present staff except a few clerks since the machinery at present is practically all available in the Civil Service Commission, and functioning.
It was as a result of this W. P. A. Bureau and its attitude towards persons 35 to 60 years of age, denying them reemployment, or even consideration, that former Senator Moore, of New Jersey, drafted
his bill in the Seventy-fifth Congress. The bill passed the Senate overwhelmingly but failed in the House due to the close of the session.
Do you not think that where an administrative officer or personnel officer denies a citizen-a well-qualified person, one who has qualified by an open competitive test—his right to a position in the Government service, some penalty should be written into the Civil Service or some similar act?
Another recent innovation in the departmental service is where a department head, supervisor, or section head takes a personal dislike (or for some other reason, wants to rid the department of an individual) he is transferred from the regular department pay roll to the W. P. A. administrative or P. W. A. administrative pay roll (whichever has the lowest funds), and without the knowledge of the employee until probably the day before pay day he finds himself about to be dismissed, or as soon as the appropriation runs out, and at the same time the department retains on the pay rolls other W. P. A. or P. W. A. administrative employees and relief employees. While against the civil-service law, yet this practice seems to be in much favor in departments today since it attracts the least attention. To protest, the civil-service employee finds that it makes it much more difficult to obtain other employment in another agency. Some method should be adopted to abolish this practice.
Relative to classification: Many times the employee does work of a higher classification than that for which he has been actually engaged. Stenographers do more clerical work than shorthand, sometimes no shorthand. When lay-offs take place these same persons find they have lost their speed in shorthand and in order to obtain work in another office are required to take another test in order to qualify for the office in which they seek the new employment. In many instances they fail the test, not because they are not qualified, but because of lack of practice and nervousness. Every office they approach it is a question of "another test," and after months of unemployment, at times without food, about to be put on the street for lack of funds to pay rent, and an empty stomach, they almost "pass out” from exhaustion and nervousness.
When one qualifies for a position under civil service the consensus of opinion among employees is they should be given a position only for which they were engaged and stick to that work, unless promoted, and should not be required to take another test or examination in every office when seeking reemployment. They have qualified through civil-service examination, so why another test? Is the department's rating superior to that of the Commission?
One or the other should be abolished.
In the matter of efficiency ratings, I have observed it is not an uncommon occurrence that a rating is changed between the time it is made by the supervisor and the time it is promulgated by the personnel office.
In the matter of appeals boards or grievance boards, I thought the plan advocated by former Commissioner Jessie Dell, as a member of Commerce Lodge 9, A. F. G. E., and broadcast at the American Federation of Government Employees' convention in 1938 at Chicago, seemed one of the best plans so far advanced. heartily endorsed at that time by Mr. George Riley of the Washington Herald and the A. F. G. E.
Since the tendency today is to follow the English civil-service system, and having made a rather perfunctory survey or study several seasons while abroad in the various European capitals of their systems of federal or state set-ups, it is my opinion it might be well if the English system were adopted. It would require several additional Commissioners (the same as in many large corporations). Each man would have under his jurisdiction certain departments, and the responsibility for appointments and dismissals under his supervision—similar to the subcommittees in our House Appropriations Committee and their jurisdiction over appropriations for each of the various departments. Then grievances, dismissals, such agency appointments, and every function concerning the department would be under the one roof.
The appeals board should consist of persons familiar with governmental procedure and departmental work. To leave the decisions in the hands of someone appointed to the board by the Department and the Civil Service Commission, as advocated by some of those who preceded me, which board member in all probability would go along with the Department or Commission's opinion, would leave the employee with two strikes against him before he even starts to present his case.
My thought, after careful study, is that the members and Senators of the Civil Service Committee should appoint the persons to sit on these boards, or sit themselves (once in every 60 days), for the hearing of complaints in the sections closest to their districts. The Board to consist of a Senator as chairman, two members from the House Civil Service Committee, a Civil Service representative, and the accused and accuser. This suggestion seems to be meeting with the favor of the rank and file of employees, as it is their belief if any supervisor thought any Senator or Member of Congress would sit in judgment on his actions he would refrain from doing some of the things that are at present going on in the departments.
In recent years, a tendency has grown up in the various branches of the Government not to employ secretaries, committee clerks, or under clerks to Members of Congress or Senators in the Federal departments. The opposition and objection appears to be on the grounds that these employees "have had their own way." "no one supervising them," "have been accustomed to coming and going as they please, and they can't produce."
It is unnecessary for me to tell you how absurd such statements and excuses are. As a former legislative clerk in both branches of Congress, I know the folly of such argument. Nevertheless, the departments refuse employment to these people regardless of their destitute condition. I know of a dozen cases right now where legislative employees are on private relief, or should be there. Many of these cases are known to you Senators. Something should be done to assist these employees who have rendered faithful service and have worked from 12 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, for months at a time, many over a long period of years.
Sick leave should also be provided for legislative the same as other Federal employees. A practice has recently been established on the House side, that where an employee is a way for illness, he (or she) must pay the substitute. Annual leave should also be established so that all employees receive uniform annual leave.