The WPA and Federal Relief Policy

By Donald S. Howard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT:
CONCLUDED

CLOSELY RELATED to the problem of skill for the job assigned is the allied question of how assiduously workers apply themselves to their tasks. Additional conditions of employment relate to (a) the provision of jobs near workers' homes, (b) freedom from discrimination, and (c) safeguards against accidents and injuries.


A DAY'S WORK FOR A DAY'S PAY

Despite the fact that it was not until 1939 that Congress wrote into law a provision forbidding the employment of workers who were thought incapable of performing satisfactorily their assigned tasks, the WPA has, since its establishment, again and again emphasized the worker's responsibility for giving a day's work for a day's pay. In a handbook prepared for distribution to WPA workers early in 1936, for example, the question is raised: "Can I be fired from the job?" The reply was, "Yes. You can be fired if your work is not satisfactory."1

A further statement of official policy, announced the same year, prescribed that "project workers must discharge their duties to the fullest extent of their ability." This raises interesting questions as to what WPA officials should expect of workers who, though working to "the fullest extent of their ability" were still incapable of performing satisfactorily the jobs to which they were assigned.

Warnings and suspensions without pay have been prescribed as the penalties for "demonstrated" shirking. Foremen and supervisors have been made responsible for seeing that "conscientious service" is rendered and have themselves been threatened with suspension or discharge if they permitted "habitual shirking." Furthermore, WPA officials have been directed to do every

____________________
1
WPA, Our Job with the WPA. (Workers' Handbook.) Government Printing Office, Washington, March 13, 1936, p. 14.

-244-

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