« AnteriorContinuar »
with speeches if we could get the lists. I have been trying for three years to get an act through Congress to have these lists furnished to Senators and Members of Congress for official business.
Mr. TOWNER. Now, Mr. De Graw, I notice that section 1647 of the supplement to the postal laws and regulations, on page 129, has this to say regarding the rural carriers (reading):
Rural carriers shall not solicit business or receive orders of any kind from any persons, firm, or corporation, and shall not, during their hours of employment, carry merchandise for hire, etc.
Now, in that and the next division, and also in section 1648, I do not find any reference either to a prohibition on the carriers for the furnishing of names. Can you give me specifically the statute or regulation of the department in regard to that? I would like to know the exact language of the prohibition.
Mr. DE GRAW Not to delay you, Mr. Chairman, I would like to supply that later; I don't remember just the section, but I could find it in a few minutes. I will supply it later, however.
The CHAIRMAN. All right.
Mr. Austin. Mr. Brown, I want to compliment you on the goodroads department of your paper. I think you are doing a great work.
The CHAIRMAN. And I want to compliment your paper in general terms, Mr. Brown.
Mr. Brown. Thank you, gentlemen.
Mr. McCoy. I didn't mean to switch this off, but I wanted to get a little light on the subject before proceeding, so I could understand the situation.
Mr. Brown. We plead guilty to having sent out that. circular, but it was purely for the purpose stated, that we might do our part in improving the road condition of the country. The carriers have been urged by their superior officers to do all they could to help along the matter of the improvement of the roads, and it seems to me not a too liberal construction of Mr. De Graw's own injunction quoted from his speech that the carriers might furnish this information. But if I am wrong about that, then I plead guilty.
Mr. Austin. I am mighty anxious to vote for about $50,000,000 annually for the good-roads movement all over the country.
Mr. McCoy. I think Mr. Brown is going at it in the right way:
You were on the question of sending out this circular, and I broke in with the inquiry as to how that was a violation of the rules.
Mr. BROWN. Yes, sir.
Now, at our convention at Milwaukee in September, 1911, the convention met on Tuesday morning, and shortly after the session opened, while the mayor and the postmaster of Milwaukee were present in the hall for the purpose of delivering addresses of welcome to our convention, I am told that a message came from the Fourth Assistant Postmaster General to the offices of the association that they should forth with wait upon him at his hotel, and the convention was adjourned in order that they might comply with his demand. I am told that when they appeared before Mr. De Graw another demand was made that the R. F. D. News-that the official relations between the News and the carriers' association be destroyed. I am told that it was pointed out to Mr. De Graw that the action of the convention at Little Rock relieved the carriers of all responsibility for anything that appeared in the News.
Mr. Austin. Will you kindly give the author of any of these statements, so if we have to go into the matter further we can put our hands on the witnesses ?
Mr. Brown. I will furnish this name to the committee privately.
Mr. Austin. You see, we will be in this position: You are making your statement about this matter, and then the Fourth Assistant Postmaster General will give his version of it, which we may assume will be just the contrary to yours, and then we will be all up in the air without some additional testimony.
Mr. Brown. Yes, sir; I appreciate the committee's position in the matter.
During the discussion I am informed that the Fourth Assistant Postmaster General said that he didn't want to deprive Brown of his means of livelihood, but that if these attacks on the Post Office Department didn't cease that he (Mr. De Graw) stood in with all the newspapers in Washington and would ruin the R. F. D. News. The convention took no action at all with reference to the R. F. D. News. At Little Rock there was a resolution passed defining the status existing between the News and the association. At Milwaukee no action at all was taken. The only resolution which could be construed as affording a crumb of comfort to the department was one in which it was declared that the relations between the department and the carriers were harmonious, which no one had ever denied.
Mr. McCoy. That was at Milwaukee, you say?
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Brown, I assume that the Fourth Assistant Postmaster General and the other representatives of the Post Office Department who attended your convention at Little Rock and also at Milwaukee were there by invitation of the association ?
Mr. Brown. By invitation of the association; yes, sir. I might say that the extending of an invitation to the officials of the department to attend the Milwaukee meeting was resented by a large number of the members of the association. The members believe that the association is their own affair and that the department has nothing to do with it, and if it had been left to a majority of the delegates to the Milwaukee convention no invitation would have been extended.
The CHAIRMAN. May I inquire how many delegates there were at the Milwaukee convention? Mr. BROWN. I do not believe I can tell
you. The CHAIRMAN. About how many?
Mr. Brown. I would say there were present in person and by proxy perhaps 122.
Mr. Àustin. How many at Little Rock ?
, Mr. BROWN. We are to hold our next convention in Nashville, Tenn.
Mr. McCoy. You say “present in person and by proxy.” Is any person not a rural carrier allowed to have a proxy and represent a carrier ?
Mr. Brown. No, sir; but we work it this way: The national association pays the traveling expenses of one delegate from each State, and if the State wishes to send the full number to which it is entitled the State must pay the traveling expenses of the additional delegates.
So, if only one delegate goes from a given State he carries the proxies
Mr. McCoy. But he himself is a carrier ?
The CHAIRMAN. Have you anything further to state, Mr. Brown, to the committee in connection with the matters that have been so far considered ?
Mr. Brown. Yes, sir. The department has claimed, I believe, on a number of occasions that the R. F. D. News has wantonly attacked them, and we have said that we didn't believe the officials of the department were entirely friendly to the interests of the rural carriers. I would like to read into the record just here a copy of a memorandum which is now filed with the Court of Claims in connection with the claim of a rural carrier who is trying to recover an amount due him on account of erroneous measurement of his route. He was short paid. This is dated April 14, 1906:
Subject: Submission to the Comptroller of the Treasury of the question as to whether or not the Postmaster General has authority to increase the compensation of a rural letter carrier to take effect at a prior date.
You understand, Mr. McCoy, the inspectors will go out and measure or estimate the length of a rural mail route. The pay of the carrier is supposed to be based on the length of the route.After the carrier has been covering his route for some time, perhaps six months or a year, or three or five years, he begins to realize that he is traveling farther than he is getting paid for. He measures the route himself and he finds out that he is being short paid. He makes a request for an official remeasurement, and the department sends an inspector to remeasure the route. If the carrier's contention is sustained, then the carrier's pay is set up from the time he made the complaint, but the carrier can not get the back pay really due him on account of the short measurement, a shortage in pay due to the fact than an official of the department either made a bad guess or a bad measurement of the length of his route.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you know of any instance where a carrier had been overpaid and was compelled to refund ?
Mr. BROWN. Yes, sir; there is a case of that kind. It is up as evidence in the Court of Claims now, where demand for refund of overpayment was made by the department; I think the amount reaches about $600. I can not refer specifically to the case, but it
now in the Court of Claims.
The CHAIRMAN. You say, then, that if it was discovered that the carrier was overpaid, the department would require him to refund, but when the carrier has been underpaid the Government will not pay him for the length of time he has been underpaid ?
Mr. Brown. I am not sure, but it is possible that now—this will develop later—they are paying back pay which accrued during the current fiscal year. I am sure about that; but beyond that they don't pay him and he must go to the Court of Claims, and I believe there are, perhaps, a hundred or more claims of that
character pending now. Mr. McCoy. Does he go to the Court of Claims because there is no appropriation out of which he can be paid, or does he go to have
the Court of Claims adjudicate the question of fact as to whether or not he was traveling more than he was supposed to be traveling ?
Mr. BROWN. No; it is not to determine whether he is traveling farther than he is supposed to be traveling, because these claims are based on the official measurements of the department.
Mr. McCoy. Well, there would be an issue of fact, I presuîne, unless the fact were admitted as to whether or not he was traveling more than the official records showed.
Mr. BROWN. Yes, sir.
Mr. Brown. No, sir.. The question is whether or not, I believe it has now resolved itself into this: Whether or not the carrier, having recepted for his morthly pay in full has any right to claim anything additional. The department claims, I believe, that it is not obligated to pay any specific salary for any kind or length of route; that it is left to their option; that if they do not pay according to the schedule it is not obligatory upon them to do so, and they contend now in their brief-I read one of the briefs the other day—and I think this is right, that they have the right if, for any reason which seems satisfactory to them, although the schedule says for 24 miles, $1,000 a year; 22 to 24 miles, $960 a year; 22 miles, $900 a year, and so on, that they don't necessarily have to regard that.
Mr. McCoy. Is that schedule embodied in the statute or regulation ? Mr. BROWN. It is in the regulations of the department. The CHAIRMAN. I think it is a statute, isn't it, Mr. De Graw? Mr. DE GRAW. It is a regulation. Mr. McCoy. The question Mr. Brown raises, as I understand it, is whether or not the pay is based absolutely on mileage or whether the pay is based approximately on mileage; whether the department has the right to pay one man who travels 25 miles so much and another man who travels an equal distance a less sum?
Mr. DE GRAW. No, sir; we don't claim we can do that.
Mr. BROWN. In the brief which I have referred to it is stated not as an argument of the Attorney General but as the statement of the Postmaster General himself that the department is not obligated to adhere to this schedule of pay; that under circumstances which to their minds warrant it they can pay a man less, but under no circumstances can they pay
him Mr. McCoy. Can you get us a copy of that brief?
Mr. Brown. Yes, sir; I filed a copy of it with the Post Office Committee the other day.
Mr. McCoy. I wish you would. Is there any contention in that brief, as you recollect it, that the signing of a receipt stops a man from raising the question as to whether or not he is getting enough?
Mr. BROWN. I am not sure, Mr. McCoy. I have had that impression, but I would not state it as an absolute fact. I will get a copy of the brief and file it with the committee.
Now, I want to read this memorandum. I had just read the subject of it and was interrupted. (Reading:)
Inasmuch as the adoption of the schedule of rates now followed contemplated fixing the compensation on the basis of the actual length of routes, the length of the
H. Doc. 651, 62-2- -2
routes as shown by the records of the department to be taken as the actual length until the contrary appeared, it is understood that under the opinion of the Comptroller of the Treasury the Postmaster General is authorized to increase the compensation of the carrier, but it is suggested that the recommendation heretofore approved by you stand, i. e., that the increased compensation be allowed from the time the length of route as of record was questioned, the compensation of the carrier having been fixed upon the basis of the length of the route and the carrier not having previously complained of the action of the department.
P. V. DE GRAW,
Fourth Assistant Postmaster General. Mr. McCoy. Why should there ever be any question about a mere matter of measurement ?
Mr. Brown. I suppose it is practically impossible for a man to measure every route accurately. I am not sure about this, but I am told that many times an inspector will estimate routes from-what is it you call them? Townships, or
Mr. KRAM, Sections ?
Mr. Austin. Don't they have an instrument now for measurements of that kind ?
Mr. Brown. I don't know how the department works it. This relates, of course, only to routes on which the question of length has been raised and has been substantiated.
Mr. McCoy. My point was simply this: If it can be ascertained, upon complaint regarding the length of the route, just what the real length is, why couldn't it be just as easily ascertained before the man is put on it? I don't see why there should be any question as to the length of a carrier's route.
Mr. Brown. Most of the complaints are probably due to the fact that the inspector merely estimates the length.
Mr. Austin. The country covered by most of these routes is not like your country up in New Jersey, Mr. McCoy. There are no mile
, . posts even on a great majority of these country roads, and often the oldest inhabitants will disagree as to the distance from one place to another.
Mr. McCoy. Sure; they'll tell you a place is 3 miles away and when you come to walk it you find out it is 10.
Mr. Brown. Another phase of activity that the R. F. D. News perhaps might be charged with, in the interests of the rural carriers, is that it has given great publicity to a regulation of the department providing for deductions from the salaries of rural carriers for failure to render complete daily service, regardless of road conditions, weather, or other traveling conditions. I have published the instructions to postmasters twice in the R. F. D. News, and I believe through that medium it has come to the general attention of Representatives in Congress who have rural delivery constituents.
Mr. McCoy. Have you commented on it editorially?
Mr. BROWN. Unfavorably. When the Fourth Assistant Postmaster General was before the House Committee on the Post Office he stated that when such cases came to the attention of the department the carrier was relieved, and I submitted to the committee that under the instructions to the postmasters no carrier would feel warranted in taking the matter up with the department, and the committee