The WPA and Federal Relief Policy

By Donald S. Howard | Go to book overview
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FOR THE PURPOSE of determining eligibility for WPA employment it is not enough that workers be employable and available. They are supposed to be assigned to or continued in WPA jobs only when no other form of employment is available to them.

Regulations and Laws

Procedure with respect to private employment at first rested upon federal regulations. As early as January, 1936, for example, Mr. Hopkins ruled:

It is expected that WPA workers will accept available jobs in private employment, whether of a permanent or temporary nature, provided:
1. That the temporary or permanent work shall be a full time job;1
2. That such work shall be at a standard or going rate of wages;
3. That such work shall not be in conflict with established union relationships; and
4. That workers shall be offered an opportunity to return to the Works Progress Administration upon completion of temporary jobs.

In explanation of this policy Mr. Hopkins declared:

It seems to me extremely important that all workers be given every reasonable opportunity to accept temporary employment because this often results in a permanent opportunity, and obviously workers are going to be loath to accept temporary jobs unless they can be given definite assurance that the WPA work will be open to them upon completion of the job.

Important as this declaration was felt to be, emphasis was also laid on the fact that the WPA should not develop employment exchanges or serve "as a means of forcing workers to accept sub- standard wages from anybody."2

Though not requiring workers to accept work at "sub-standard"

This was interpreted as an official rebuke to the WPA administrator of New York City who, only a short time before, had dismissed several workers holding part- time jobs in private industry while working for the WPA. (Author's note.)
WPA-156, January 11, 1936.


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