Page images

clubhouse committee, elected by the members, has charge of these activities. The lunch room furnishes breakfast, lunch, and supper on the cafeteria plan. The food is sold a little above cost, to cover the expense. The lunch room has recently opened a department to sell provisions and market stuffs.

All the other welfare activities are in charge of committees appointed by the president. Thus the health committee cares for the health of employees and has charge of the rest room and medical rooms. A registered nurse, paid by the firm, is constantly in attendance to care for emergency cases. Two physicians come twice a week that the employees may consult them about health matters at no expense to themselves. The health committee must report any insanitary conditions in the store to the counselor. The lecture committee provides lectures on educational topics, the entertainment committee has charge of social gatherings of members, and the athletic committee tries to further athletics and gymnastics. An arrangement has been made by which the employees have the use of the Normal School of Gymnastics. There are basket-ball teams, classes in dancing, etc. The publication committee got out the Echo, a store paper, which has since been discontinued. The library committee supervises the library, the dues of which are 2 cents a week. There are several hundred books on the shelves and a number of magazines are subscribed for. To interest employees in the workings of the store and to encourage them to think for themselves, suggestion boxes have been placed about the building. A suggestion committee with a representative from the firm's office goes over the suggestions each week and makes awards for good ones. A choral club has been organized, and it engages a regular musical instructor to train the members. The charges are 10 cents a week.

[ocr errors]

Arrangements have been made with wholesale coal dealers by which coal is sold to employees at less than retail prices by taking a certain number of tons a year. The cooperative store committee, a newly organized committee, has begun selling dry groceries to employees at cost. Another feature of the work is to secure suitable rooms for employees in Boston and good places for summer holidays. The summer vacation cottage, which was formerly maintained for employees, has been supplanted by this activity. Employees may purchase goods from the firm at 20 per cent discount.

The cooperative association allows its members to form subsidiary associations. The women employees have, accordingly, organized a girls' club, and the men employees a similar club for men, chiefly to promote sociability, efficiency, and loyalty to the store.

There is a profit-sharing plan by which certain department executives-buyers, assistant buyers, floor superintendents, and assistant superintendents, and executives whose work is general rather than

departmental-participate in merchandise profits, i. e., the profits in selling. The corporation gets its profits in merchandise discounts, which is a constant and arbitrary percentage applying to all pur chases. The plan is practically this, that after a certain fixed profit has gone to the capital stock, any profit over and above this amount is divided among certain executives.

The corporation has recently adopted a minimum wage scale. No female employee is to receive less than $8 per week, and no male employee less than $6 for the first six months, $7 for the next six months, and $8 if employed for one year or longer.

MAIL ORDER houses.


Sears, Roebuck & Co. is beautifully situated in a large park-like plot of green. The green sweep of lawn is so extensive that there is room for a dozen tennis courts and two baseball diamonds.

Great care is taken in the interior arrangements of the building for the comfort of the 9,000 employees. The offices are spacious, light, and well ventilated. The toilet rooms are well equipped and supplied with soap and towels. There are individual lockers for about onethird of the employees. The large dining room operated by the firm enables the employees to get their luncheons very reasonably and quickly. There is besides a cafeteria which is cheaper, and tables and napkins are supplied for employees who bring their lunches with them. The charges to employees just cover the price of food and service. A physician is in charge of the medical department and spends the forenoon at the building. Employees needing medical attention are free to consult him. There is a small emergency hospital or rest room, with several nurses in constant attendance. The firm maintains a deposit station of the Chicago Public Library at the establishment, employs a regular librarian and publishes a library bulletin. Besides the public library books the firm has a small library of standard fiction of its own.

As is usual where the force is chiefly clerical, the firm gives a short summer vacation, but only to persons who have been in their employ some time. For those who have been employed for three years, one week's holiday with pay is granted; while for five-year employees two weeks are given.

For the benefit of their employees the company started an employees' savings department, and pays 5 per cent interest compounded quarterly on all savings. The employees have established the Seroco Mutual Benefit Association, with the departmental managers of the company as officers and directors. These are indirectly voted on, however, by the employees. The company pays for all the

clerical work connected with the association. All employees under 50 years of age, in good physical condition and of good moral character, are eligible to membership after three months' employment. The dues are graded according to salary and range from 5 cents a month for a weekly salary of $4.50 or less, up to 60 cents a month for a weekly salary of $16. A sick benefit of about three-fourths the weekly wage is paid for a period of 10 weeks after the first three days of consecutive illness. The death benefit runs from $25 to $150, according to salary. Where a member has been in the association for one year, the death benefit is doubled if the treasury admits of it. The statement for the year ending May, 1910, shows that there were 2.287 members, that $14,073.15 had been disbursed for sick benefits, and $2,040 for death benefits.

Athletics play a large part in the welfare work. There are eight department baseball teams, which form an interdepartment league. During the summer months these teams have games every Saturday afternoon on the baseball grounds of the firm. There are a dozen tennis courts, most of them for the employees. Nets and dressing

rooms are provided. At the end of the season a track and field meet is held.


The Thomas Manufacturing Co., a mail-order house of Dayton, Ohio, employing about 100 persons, gives an annual picnic for all the employees and their friends and at Christmas has an entertainment for them, at which handsome presents are distributed. The employees have organized the Thomanco Club, to which about 65 per cent of them belong. The club has social meetings and dances. During the winter months the company equipped a part of one floor as a dining room and kitchen, and there the club served luncheon at actual cost, covering the expense of food, rent, and service. The dues are 25 cents a month, and are being devoted at present to pay for a piano the club recently purchased. The company aids the club financially in its dances. A corner of another floor of the building is used as a rest room for the women employees. There they have a piano and rocking chairs. There is also a cloak room for the women employees.




The Chicago Telephone Co. lays great emphasis on the fact that their betterment work is done solely to promote efficiency of service to the public, and will hear nothing of the term welfare work. It was found that very often the women employees at the switchboards

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

would not bring wholesome or suitable lunches with them. This would have its effect on the afternoon work, resulting in false calls, wrong numbers, etc., for the patrons. The company accordingly began serving lunches to the telephone girls, and now in nearly all the exchanges nourishing noonday meals are served free. Where there is no lunch, hot coffee is served. Efficiency demanded that the women employees should rest from the monotony of switchboard work. They work 2 hours consecutively at the boards and then are given a rest period of 15 minutes, and at noon they have half an hour for lunch. In order to get a complete change from work the company provided rest rooms at the exchanges, with comfortable chairs, couches, magazines, and books. The employees contribute 5 cents a month for books. The amount thus raised is doubled by the company and new books are bought with it. These rooms are extremely pleasing, with attractive furniture and hangings and flower boxes in the window. A prize is awarded by the company monthly to the exchange making the lowest per cent of error in the service. Often the prize is a pretty picture or a piece of furniture for the rest room. The yards of the exchanges are turned into flower gardens, with benches and swings, where the women may enjoy out-of-door life. The women plant and tend the flowers themselves. All this furnishes a pleasant change from indoor work. Some of the big down-town exchanges have roof gardens for the same purpose. The toilet rooms are clean and provided with towels and soap, and each girl has an open grating locker.

The telphone school which trains the employees in the duties of the switchboard has about 250 pupils and a number of teachers. The course lasts four weeks, during which time the employees are paid. Every applicant for a position must enter the training school. Before she is accepted she is examined physically by a trained nurse, to see that eyes and ears are in good condition to make an operator. If she has tuberculosis or a contagious disease she is not accepted. By this means the company is able to protect its other employees. Lectures on hygiene are given twice a week in the school.

Care has been taken to make the conditions in the workroom good. The workrooms are well ventilated. The operating employees, those at the switchboard, have high backed stools with rests for their feet.

The local exchanges are the centers of recreation. The operators organize social clubs and give picnics, dances, and various entertainments. At Christmas the exchanges send out baskets to poor families whom some of the operators know to be worthy.

A choral society of the women employees, numbering about 100 members, has been organized, with annual afternoon and evening concerts, so that all the telephone force may have an opportunity of

hearing the concert. One year the company arranged to have the employees visit the galleries of the Art Institute after closing hours in the evening. On that occasion they were personally conducted by Chicago artists. Athletics are fostered by an annual track and field meet with the employees of the Western Electric Co., the manufac turing company of telephones, on the athletic fields of the latter.near Chicago. The Operating Bulletin, a monthly magazine published by the traffic department for the benefit of the operating forces, has a circulation of 5,000. It contains matter of interest for the employees, with information about the exchanges. Women employees are urged to contribute to it, or make drawings. One month the cover of the magazine was a drawing by an employee. Sometimes the prize picture awarded the exchange with the lowest percentage of errors for the month forms the cover of the magazine. The editor of the magazine is in charge of the social betterment work.

The Chicago Telephone Employees' Benefit Association provides sick, accident, and death benefits for its members, the employees of the company. Practically any employee not over 50 years of age may become a member. The membership is divided into 11 classes, according to the monthly wages of employees. These range from $22 a month up to over $90. The dues run from 20 cents a month up to $1, according to the rate of wages of the member. There is besides an initiation fee of 50 cents or $1. Benefits amounting to one-half the daily wage are paid for sickness covering five successive days. Disability benefits are not paid for longer than 26 weeks in a year. Where a member is permanently disabled, however, the board of trustees may authorize an extension to 52 weeks. The death benefits are from $60 to members of the first class up to $300 for members of the eleventh class. The association is managed by a board of trustees made up of the president of the Chicago Telephone Co., ex officio chairman of the board, and 12 trustees. Six of these are chosen by the directors of the telephone company and six are the representatives of the employees, chosen by the members of the association through their delegates. The board of trustees appoints a manager, who has charge of all the business of the association. The telephone company contributes an annual amount equal to 50 per cent of the dues and initiation fees paid in each year, and accordingly has the custody of the fund, guaranteeing its safety and paying 4 per cent interest. Members may appeal from the decision of the manager to the trustees. The statement for the fiscal year ending September, 1910, shows an average number of members of 4,163, with $43,009.15 receipts and $32,536.35 disbursements; $22,613.65 was paid out in sick benefits for 1.362 claims, $4,633.85 for accident benefits for 270 claims, and $1,455 for death benefits.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »