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NEW ENGLAND TELEPHONE & TELEGRAPH CO.
The New England Telephone & Telegraph Co., and associated with it the American Telephone & Telegraph Co., conducts the same sort of work for the employees as the Bell telephone companies, elsewhere. Like the Chicago company, the term welfare work is considered objectionable, and efficiency work is substituted for it.
It is recognized by the company that its dependence for good service on the human machine makes it the starting point of its work. It is of prime importance that the operators-the women at the switchboards-must not be overloaded, i. e., have too many calls to answer at a time. Records are kept which enable the company to ascertain how heavy a load an operator can carry. The load is kept so low that it can be increased 25 per cent. Again, the operators have a 15-minute relief period in the forenoon and again in the afternoon to freshen them that they may give better service. Good service is emphasized, and a standard is set for each exchange. A healthy rivalry between the exchanges is fostered. A careful individual record of each operator is kept to assist in promoting her.
The comfort of the women employees-the operators-is cared for with rest rooms and lunch rooms. The employees are encouraged to have a personal interest in the rest rooms, and at many of the exchanges in New England the women have even given some of the furnishings themselves. At Salem the rest room had no pictures, so the operators sold soap and with the proceeds bought six large pictures, standard works of art. They bought curtains and flowers, a rug, magazines, etc., to make the room pleasing. The rooms are well furnished with mission furniture, with easy chairs and couches. Many of the current periodicals are subscribed for, and in Boston in many of the exchanges there is a station of the public library. The lavatories are spacious and clean and individual towels are supplied. The employees have individual lockers also in which to keep their outer clothing. A matron has charge of the rest room and lavatory. In the large exchanges a separate lunch room is provided, but in smaller exchanges the tables for lunch are located in the rest room. Cooking utensils and dishes and the services of the matron are given free. The company furnishes coffee and cocoa free throughout cold weather. The girls get their own food and make their arrangement with the matron, who is not allowed to charge anything for her work. Each matron is supposed to have had training in nursing, so that she can help care for an emergency case. In the largest exchange in Boston there is a fully equipped hospital room. In the other departments of the telephone company a lunch room is provided for the clerks, with coffee and cocoa free.
Like the other telephone companies in large cities, a school is maintained to train new operators in the mysteries of the switchboard.
When it is known that about one-third of the operating force leaves each year, it is apparent how important the school is. The course lasts four weeks and each week a class is graduated. About 70 pupils are in the school at one time. After a week's trial the physician, a woman, examines the physicial condition of each student, particularly the condition of the blood, and in this way undesirable applicants are kept out, the chances being that if the applicant's health is poor she will not make a good operator. The physician also lectures on hygiene. Like the exchanges, the school has rest and lunch rooms and hot cocoa is given the pupils.
The company tries to encourage economy among its employees. The Stamp Savings Society of Boston has a station in many of the large offices, the telephone company giving the necessary clerical work. The Stamp Savings Society is a separate organization, independent of the company. It is not a savings bank, but an agency for the deposit of small sums. No interest is paid, but the idea is that with a small sum saved in this way the depositor will be encouraged and more likely to open an account in a regular savings bank.
The employees have organized the Telephone Employees' Association of New England, with a two-fold aim-to promote social intercourse and knowledge of the telephone and to provide disability and death benefits. The members are divided into two classes, A and B, according to their interest. Only male employees of the company and its allied companies are eligible to membership. The dues are 25 cents a month for members of class A, the social side, and for class B from 50 cents up to $1, according to the member's age. Members of class B receive a disability benefit of $10 a week for a period not exceeding 13 weeks in a year. A committee of members appointed by the secretary investigates each case. At death the beneficiaries receive $200. The members elect their own officers. In 1909 there were 802 members of class A and 1,263 members of class B. Class B had a revenue of $15,876, including the company's annual contribution of $1,500. The disbursements for sick benefits amounted to $6.921.91 and for death benefits $2,400. The amount disbursed for benefits was paid out to 134 persons, averaging about $51 for each
Besides this organization, there is the Telephone Society of New England, purely educational in its aim, numbering 500 members. Its membership is made up entirely of men, heads of departments, higher clerks, etc. The society meets once a month, when a paper on some subject connected with telephoning is read.
The company publishes a monthly magazine, Telephone Topics, for the employees, just as in Chicago.
NEW YORK TELEPHONE CO.
The welfare work done by the New York Telephone Co. is along the same lines as that in Boston and Chicago. The women employees of the traffic department have a school, medical examination, retiring rooms, and the lunch rooms with tea, coffee, and cocoa free, just as elsewhere. There is also the New York Telephone Co. Employees Mutual Benefit Society for male employees over 18 years of age. The company contributes one dollar for every dollar of dues the members pay. This same form of society the Long Island and New Jersey divisions of the New York Telephone Co. have organized. Sick, accident, and death benefits are paid. The New York Telephone Society is an organization for men interested in the scientific and commercial aspects of telephoning. It corresponds to the New England Telephone Society. The New York company publishes every month The Telephone Review, containing matter of interest to employees.
METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE CO.
The Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.'s building in New York is fitted with many comforts and conveniences for the 3,000 clerks. There are suitable lavatories, individual lockers, and large dining rooms for men, women, and officers. Here at noon the women clerks get a hot lunch, in the main free. The large auditorium, which the women clerks are allowed to use for a recreation room, has a piano in it. There is a gymnasium completely equipped, with a physical director in attendance every afternoon. Once a week the gymnasium is reserved for the women clerks. Also, part of the roof of the building is used for recreation by the employees. In the medical division of the company's work a retiring room is provided, to which any emergency case among the clerks needing medical attention is brought. The company maintains a large library in the building, not only for its own employees, but for those of the other tenants of the building. A librarian is in charge of the 5,000 books, and each month a bulletin is published announcing accessions to the library. Every employee who has been with the company a year is given two weeks' vacation each year.
The company's most important welfare work is the Metropolitan Staff Savings Fund, to which it contributes half as much as the individual depositor saves. Any employee, after one year, whose earnings are not in excess of $3,000 a year, may become a depositor in the fund, but no employee may deposit in one year more than 5 per cent
of his earnings. Should a depositor withdraw his savings if he were leaving the company's employ, for example-he is not entitled to the company's contribution, but only to his savings with 3 per cent interest. Should an employee die in the service of the company, or become incapacitated through old age or ill health, or after 20 years' continuous service wish to retire, he then receives all of the amount standing to his credit, including the company's contributions and forfeitures up to the close of the last fiscal year, plus any subsequent deposits and interest thereon at 3 per cent. Should a depositor leave and forfeit his right to the company's contributions, the contribution is divided among the depositors of his class according to the amounts standing to their credit with the company. Thus the forfeit of a superintendent, assistant superintendant, agent, supervisor, or inspector is credited to depositors who are superintendents, etc. Similarly, the forfeit of a member of the clerical force is credited to clerks. If the withdrawing depositor has been a depositor for less than five years the company receives a percentage of its subscription, graded according to the number of years, up to five years. In the home office in 1910, 1,900 persons were depositors, while there were 5,500 outside depositors. In December, 1909, there were $974,176.80 in the fund. The fund is administered by trustees appointed by the board of directors of the company.
The advantages of the savings fund are that it combines the beneficial features of a savings bank, inducing habits of thrift, life insurance, and a lump pension after 20 years' continuous employment.
COMMONWEALTH EDISON CO.
The Commonwealth Edison Co., of Chicago, which furnishes electricity for light and power, has an employees' savings fund. Any employee who has been six months in the company's service may derosit in the fund either 3 or 5 per cent of his monthly salary. In order to obtain 6 per cent interest, compounded semiannually, the deposits must be left for five years, unless the depositor leaves the company's service. If for any reason the depositor leaves or withdraws his savings within that time, only 4 per cent interest is paid on the deposits. If an employee fails to make the payments-3 or 5 per cent of his monthly salary-only 3 per cent interest is allowed on his deposits. At the expiration of a year any employee may change the amount of his monthly deposit from 3 or 5 per cent of his earnings, as he chooses. About 1,500 of the 3,000 employees belong to the fund.
At the Edison Building, where the office work is done, there is a library of several thousand volumes-technical and scientific-for the employees. A librarian is in attendance and gets out a weekly
digest of important articles in current periodicals to aid the men in their reading. The library is also a station of the Chicago Public Library. There are branch libraries at two of the company's substations. A magazine-The Edison Round Table-is published for the employees and distributed among them.
The company has for several years awarded night-school scholarships to employees who came up to the requirements set—at least one year's service with a good record, sufficiently good health to undertake night-school work, studious habits, etc. The scholarship covers the cost of tuition for the course, which must bear relation to the employee's work for the company. There are several clubs organized for study among the employees. In the construction department the wiremen have a study circle, and in the engineering department there is a "Get Together Club" in which papers on scientific subjects are read and discussed.
The women employees are given an annual outing or picnic, to which each employee may invite a guest. The expenses are borne by the company. There is a rest room for them in the Edison Building. There are bowling teams, a baseball team, etc., supported by the company. All the indoor employees are physically examined by the company physician. The company has adopted the merit system for the employees earning less than $2,000 a year. Every three months they are rated according to their attendance, punctuality, performance of duty, etc., so many points being allowed for each head. A record is kept of the marking, which is considered by the committee on changes in the pay roll.
The Quarry and Fisk Street power houses of the company have considered the comfort of the 409 men employees in various ways. There are shower baths and wash rooms, a dining room where food is sold at cost, and an assembly or lounging room with periodicals.
EDISON ELECTRIC ILLUMINATING CO.
The Edison Electric Illuminating Co., of Boston, carries on a certain amount of welfare work at present and contemplates extending it in a service building to be erected in the near future. The company is extremely liberal to employees in granting vacations and sick-leave privileges. A social club of employees assists its disabled members when necessary. The members contribute $1 a year and the company makes a donation. A permanent fund is thus created, out of which special appropriations are made to disabled members. There is an assembly room or small auditorium in the building in which lectures on scientific subjects are held for the employees. The company expends quite a large sum for these lectures.