Gambar halaman

and have established these systems purely upon the basis of business and purely because it is a business proposition.

As for the railway postal clerks, I must say that I know of no other class of Government employees whose occupation is as hazardous, and it is significant to us that this Congress has already passed retirement laws for the Coast Guard service and, I believe, recently included the Lighthouse Service men. I think statistics will bear out the statement that the occupation of the railway postal clerks is more hazardous than even that of the Life Saving Corps or the Lighthouse Service. I merely make that as a statement of comparison to show that if it is just to provide some sort of relief for the superannuation of those services it must also follow that the railway postal clerks are deserving of like consideration. And yet the railway postal clerks are not asking for any special favor or what we might call class legislation. We have cooperated with other employees in the civil service; we do not desire to place ourselves ahead of them and whatever is agreeable to them in the nature of a retirement bill is also agreeable to us. We would be perfectly willing to accept whatever measure of relief this Congress may see" fit to grant to the clerks in the departments, to the other postal clerks and employees in the other branches of the Government service. But I feel, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, as I stated before, that a thorough study of the subject will show conclusively that it can be placed on a paying basis, or, as I might say, that it can be instituted on a basis that will be equally satisfactory to the Government, to the people, and to the employees. We do not ask for any special consideration. Our men are in that frame of mind where they are willing to pay something as their share for the operation of a retirement law. I know that in the years gone by they did not feel that way.

They felt that the burden of the operation or the cost of the proposition should be maintained wholly by the Government. They realize now, however, that the day has come in our service when the old men must step aside without any relief whatever. As I stated before, it has actually happened, and rather than to see any more of our older men dismissed-many of them thrown out in life without any opportunity whatever to make a living, because the experience they gained in the Railway Mail Service is not salable outside of that service—as I say, they realize that this condition confronts the men as they grow older and are willing, therefore, to accept almost any kind of a proposition which will give them even a meager amount to get along on, just barely enough to keep them out of the poorhouse. But I may say in that connection that we feel that $600 a year, as proposed in this McKellar-Keating bill, especially under present conditions, is hardly enough.

The CHAIRMAN. You mean as a maximum?

Mr. Ryan. As a maximum, yes; and it is hardly enough as a minimum, for that matter. I will put it that way, but we are willing to accept that as a start. We know that any bill that will be enacted, after being in operation for some years, will show imperfections, and we have the utmost confidence in Congress. Our experience with Congress has taught us that the Members of the House and the Senate always strive to be fair and honest and to do what they think is right, of course, having in mind the fact that they are serving the people as well as the employees who make the direct appeal to them. And so we are perfectly willing to rest our case in the hands of this committee and the Members of Congress, knowing right well that anything that is done will, in the judgment of the Members, be the best possible conclusion that can be reached under the circumstances.

We pray that this matter will receive early consideration and that some early action will be taken upon it.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Dr. JORDAN. What do you think would be the proper age of retirement for the railway mail employees?

Mr. Ryan. Answering that, Dr. Jordan, I have never made, in our conferences on this bill, any special claims for the railway postal clerks. It has been a matter of common talk in our service that the nature of the work shortens a man's life at least 10 years, and there is no doubt but that there should be some difference. From what little study I have made of the matter I have about reached the conclusion that not only should age be considered but also years of service. For instance, in our service the men usually come in at a very young age. They are eligible to take the examination at 18 years of age, and most of them come in before they are 25. If you put the age limit of retirement, we will say, at 60, a man coming in at 20 years of age must work 40 years before he is eligible for retirement. It is also true that if a man did not come into the service until he was 30 years of age he has only rendered 30 years of service when he is eligible for retirement, and under the same conditions as the man who has served 10 years longer in the Government service. I think that fact is worthy of consideration in the enactment of a retirement law. Under the provisions here the railway postal clerks are in a special class that gives them the benefit of the three years difference, but I have already received suggestions or complaints from men in our service who point out that when they come in at 20 years of age, or even 25 years of age, that they will have to resign or give up before they reach the age of retirement as provided in this bill.

Dr. JORDAN. The age of 65 ?

Mr. RYAN. Yes; because you can see that if a man came into our service at 20 years of age and must wait until he is 65 years before he is eligible for retirement he would have to render 45 years of service, when the fact is that very few men in our service ever complete 45 years of service, because the work is too hard.

Dr. JORDAX. You think 60 would be better than 65 ?
Mr. Ryan. Much better; yes.

The CHAIRMAN. You spoke of some instances in which you knew there had been dismissals of railway mail clerks simply on account

In cases of that kind, where the clerks had served for a long period of years, and their retirement has not been voluntary, do you think that the bill ought to be amended so as to give such men the benefit of it?

Mr. Ryan. I certainly do.

The CHAIRMAN. I think it might be very well to consider that matter.

Mr. Ryan. I will be very glad to prepare such an amendment. However, it opens up quite a field, because the moment you begin

of age.

to go back you do not know how far back you are going. But in this particular instance these men were removed without prejudice. Those words were in their removal notice, and I think their cases at least should be covered.

The CHAIRMAN. I had reference to cases of especial hardship, in which the removed employee would be entitled to the benefits of this bill had he remained in the service and would have remained had he not been removed.

Mr. Ryan. I will be very glad to prepare an amendment along that line. I certainly do believe that those men ought to be entitled to it after those years of service.

The CHAIRMAN. I do not know whether the numbers are sufficient to justify general legislation, but if the field is not too wide I think it might be covered.

Mr. RYAN. I ought to be done to that extent at least. What I meant by saying that it would open up a wide field was that if you should go back to the last two or three years, then the question might arise whether you ought to go back farther. However, the cases I have referred to might be covered by a recommendation from the committee, after the names of all the men affected were listed; that is, a recommendation to the Executive that they be reinstated by Executive order, and then, of course, they would be entitled to the retirement privilege, but I certainly had it in mind that those men should be included somehow or other.

The CHAIRMAN. Your suggestion is that they be reinstated to the extent of being entitled to the benefits of the law ?

Mr. RYAN. Yes. And if the committee should recommend it I am sure the President would see the justice of it and approve it.

Mr. ALCORN. The next speaker will be Mr. Morrison, secretary of the American Federation of Labor.



Mr. MORRISON. Mr. Chairman, I will state that the American Federation of Labor, in 1909, favored an old-age pension for all the citizens. The bill was introduced by W. B. Wilson.

The CHAIRMAN. The present Secretary of Labor ?

Mr. Morrison. Yes. The theory and position of the American Federation of Labor is this: That if we desire a reasonably contented people, we want to remove from their minds those worries that create discontent and unhappiness. There is nothing that causes greater worry to the worker and his family than the danger of being out of employment and the fear of not being able to earn sufficient to take care of himself in his old age.

The Government has recognized the right of superannuation to a pension by granting it to the Army, the Navy, and to the judiciary, and it is recognized, to an extent, among the school teachers, not so much by the Government as by the general trend of legislation. We feel that if the Government recognizes the principle as to the Army, the Navy, and the Judiciary—which usually is much better paid than Government employees en masse—that it should extend it to the various men and women who are working in the Government departments, particularly because the trade that they learn or the occupation they may follow is peculiar to the Government itself. It is not like a carpenter. If a carpenter is working for the Government and gets out of employment, he immediately proceeds to do carpentering work for other employers. But you take a railwaymail clerk, a postal clerk, or any of the men working for the Government. If they get out of employment, they have no other place to go where the particular information and skill they have acquired afters years of employment can be used to advantage.

As to this particular bill our convention at St. Paul in June adopted the following; and as it is short, I will read it: Whereas the retirement of superannuated civil-service employees upon service

annuities is now generally recognized as justifiable from both a humane and

a business standpoint; and Whereas the United States Government is one of the few in the world that

makes no provision for the retirement of its aged civil-service workers, resulting in one of two conditions—men are heartlessly dismissed after years of faithful service or they are retained upon the pay roll when no longer

able to render efficient service; and Whereas the compensation of Government employees is insufficient to permit of

adequate savings for voluntary retirement in old age; and Whereas all political parties in their platforms have pledged their support for

the enactment of retirement legislation: Therefore, be it

Resolved, That this Thirty-eighth Convention of the American Federation of Labor does hereby go on record as favoring an equitable retirement law for superannuated Government employees as contemplated by the McKellarKeating bill now pending before Congress, and that the executive council is hereby instructed to use every means at its command to secure the enactment of such legislation by the Sixty-fifth Congress.

I will also submit, without reading, a resolution that was adopted at the Baltimore convention in 1916: Whereas there are employed by the United States and the District of Columbia

several thousand workers who have grown old in the service, who are no longer able to render services commensurate with the salaries paid to them, and who are absolutely dependent upon the said salaries for their support, because the cost of living has increased of late years to such an extent that

comparatively few of them have been able to accumulate any savings; and Whereas the efficiency of the service of the United States and of the District

of Columbia is impaired to a very great extent by the retention in the service of these superannuates and the continued requirement by the United States that they shall render service despite their physical disability is an inhumane treatment, but to discharge them, as is sometimes done, with absolutely no provision for their old age is even more inhumane and unjust, as

they have devoted their lives to the service; and Whereas the experience of the commercial and industrial world has shown the

wisdom and economy of retiring superannuated employees, as is indicated by the fact that several hundred of the largest corporations now have provisions for the retirement of their superannuates, even though in many cases the promise of retirement to the employees is in the nature of " strike

insurance”; and Whereas the United States has heretofore shown it concurrence in this view

by providing for the retirement of the officers and enlisted men of the Army and Navy and Marine Corps, the judges of the Federal courts, the members of the Life-Saving Service, the Coast Guard, the Revenue-Cutter Service, and various other special classes of employees, a great many of whom perform services no more dangerous than the work of the civilian employees of the

United States; and Whereas there is a widespread and prevalent belief in the wisdom of providing

a law under which the civilian employees of the United States and of the District of Columbia who are superannuated may be retired, a great many of the officials of the United States and Members of Congress being outspokenly in favor of the plan; and

Whereas the sentiment and views of Congress in regard to this matter are such

that there is only required a strong impetus, such as could be furnished by the American Federation of Labor, to induce Congress to enact a law that will be a model retirement system upon which private employees may be induced

to base their systems of retirement; and Whereas the Democratic Party is now in power and in control of the House

and Senate of the United States, has incorporated in its platform a plank declaring itself in favor of the enactment of a retirement law for the employees of the United States: Therefore, be it

Resolved, That the president and executive council of the American Federation of Labor be, and hereby are, instructed to use every available means to secure the establishment of a retirement system for Federal civil employees which will not either directly or indirectly cause them to suffer a reduction in wages during employment.

I believe that this class of legislation should be given the most careful consideration. The trend of legislation is to bring about a civilization in which all workers can live in reasonable comfort. Now, you might ask what is reasonable comfort? Reasonable comfort is a condition in which a man and his family can live as citizens of this country should live and educate his children, so that they should have a common-school education and a vocational education, so that they will be trained to take up, when they become 18 or 20 years of age, their share of the world's work. I believe our boys and girls should be educated to do the world's work and the Federation stands for a vocational education in order to do that. The old idea was to educate our boys, after the grammar school, for professions, but we hope to see the day when there will be more workers and fewer professional men—not that we have anything against professional men-lawyers, doctors, and ministers, because they are doing a splendid work; but as this legislation advances and the minds of men get to a point that they are willing that everybody should live in reasonable comfort there will be less need for doctors and lawyers, because men will live right, and if you live right there will be little, if any, illness.

If a man working for the Government realizes that when he reaches a certain age and is unable to do as much work as the Government feels he should do that he will be retired on a pension immediately is removed from his mind the fear of what is going to happen his old age, and his family looks forward to the fact that no matter what happens the Government will pay him a certain amount, an amount, I take it, that will permit him to live in reasonable comfort. He will have no family, probably, at that age but himself and his wife.

We feel the Government should do that and set an example, and feel that the time will come when every industry will take care of its aged and that there will be a pension for every worker who does his share of the world's work because, in the last analysis, if a man has to work he must be taken care of by charity or the poorhouse.

Now, how much the better would it be, in the construction of the laws of the country, instead of leaving a man to charity and the workhouse, if a Government enactment should be made so that these men and women would be entitled to a pension and not be objects of charity, which is obnoxious to all free men and free women, and not subject to the poorhouse-something that the people of all countries dread more than anything else. So the labor unions, recognizing the necessity of taking care of men from the cradle to the grave, have adopted pensions for their members. I am a member of the Inter

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »