The WPA and Federal Relief Policy

By Donald S. Howard | Go to book overview
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WAGES PAID WPA project workers (as opposed to administrative and supervisory employes) in any one month are determined by how long they work, the kind of work they do, and where they do it. The WPA, however, exercises no control over wages paid to workers employed on WPA projects by sponsors.1


Monthly rates payable (in places of varying degrees of urbanization) in the several states2 to workers doing different types of work3 and putting in the prescribed number of hours4 have been set forth, from time to time, in what have been termed "schedules of monthly earnings."5 The first of these was prescribed by the President. Later schedules were prescribed by the administrator of the WPA. In 1939 Congress required that wage schedules should be established by the commissioner of work projects subject to approval by the head of the Federal Works Agency.

Schedules of Monthly Earnings

Schedules announced at various times have incorporated important modifications apart from changes in prescribed rates. States included in one wage region at one time have, by subsequent

This anomaly is one about which organized labor has frequently complained. See,for example, testimony presented to a House Committee by Joseph A. Mc- Inerney, President of the Building and Construction Trades Department, American Federation of Labor.-- U. S. House Committee on Appropriations (Hearings), Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1938 and Public Works Administration Appropriation Act of 1938. 75th Congress, 3d Session. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1938, pp. 756-757.
States have been grouped in "wage regions." Originally there were four of these. Since July 1, 1936, however, there have been only three.
Separate rates are prescribed for professional and technical, skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled work.
Since 1939 these normally have been 130 a month. See chap. 8 for discussion of hours of work.
Though wage rates are established on a monthly basis, workers since early in 1941 have been paid not semi-monthly, as previously, but every two weeks on the basis of 13 four-week fiscal periods instead of 12 calendar months a year. The amount paid a worker for a four-week fiscal period is twelve-thirteenths of his scheduled monthly rate.

This system, adopted in New York City early in the WPA's history, is held greatly to simplify operating, fiscal, and accounting procedures.


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