THE UNWRITTEN CONTRACT
THE psychological or unwritten contract is a product of mutual expectations. These have two characteristics: (a) They are largely implicit and unspoken, and (b) they frequently antedate the relationship of person and company.
While many specific features of work were mentioned as important and regarded as matters of right -- adequate pay, fair supervision, job security, and the like -- many other expectations were revealed only indirectly: by the way in which people described the company or fellow-worker, by the way they behaved on the job, by the way they talked about changes that had occurred over the years.
One veteran line foreman, for example, said that he was the eldest of the seven children of a poor Arkansas farmer:
It was a pretty rough struggle, and I didn't have too much education. I got through the eighth grade. After that I helped my father on the farm. One August we had things caught up on the farm and just at that time some linemen came through. They were going to build a threephase line 18 miles to the north. I said, "How about it, Dad?" Dad said I could go and help out so I went over one Saturday. They were cutting brush in the creek bottom. I asked the guy about a job...On M onday they put me right to work cutting brush, then in two or three days they put me to setting poles.
After piking poles for 17 miles they laid me off. I went back to the farm. But they came by the farm and said they wanted to have me again. That time they let me string wire as a groundman. I worked on that all fall and then went to another little town...I told my father I wouldn't be back until it was time to put the corn in. When I went back with the gang, I drove a truck. Then a lineman quit and I bought his tools.