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is a luxury; we've got to put it in the reach
of the average man. CAL TINNEY, newspaper

I think you have the oldest cause in the
world, and one of the noblest. Your battle is
against the most insidious and tireless of foes.
Let me name them: the easy way, the wish-
ful thought, the tempting short cut, the shal-
low assumption, the clever expedient, the eva-
sion of responsibility, the specious solution,
the self-saving ingenuity, the surrender of
independence and integrity of mind. You may
not think these foes are formidable. Do not
be misled. They are at the bottom of most
of our troubles. They are the betrayers of
men and nations. They are at their zenith of
power today and have half the world in
thrall. HARLOW H. CURTICE, president of
Buick Motor Corporation, to the senior class
of Olivet College.

Underwood & Underwood


Left to right. Seated

Left to right. Standing

MARY W. DEWSON, member
JACK B. TATE, general counsel
FRANK BANE, executive director




Security in Social Work


New York School of Social Work

A\ ^ocial worker worth his salt is interested in three
kinds of security: for himself and his dependents
against the hazards of low income and unemploy-
ment ; for himself and his brethren against invasions of
their status as members of a profession; for all mankind
against forces threatening human personality in every
form economic, political, cultural. In other words, the
social worker is interested in economic security, professional
security, social security. I should like to look briefly at these
three objectives, and then consider whether or not the type
of cooperative effort that is offered through the medium of
a union will aid in the achieving of them.

\N hat is the problem of economic security for the social
worker? When I look at available salary data I find it
difficult to rid myself of the idea that for rank and file
workers the problem of meeting the cost of living is a se-
me. Ralph Hurlin's study of salaries paid in March
'1936 in 241 private case working agencies, reveals some
mpressive facts. The lowest annual salary paid to case
workers by any agency was $600 and the highest was $3000.
In cities of 500,000 and over the range was from $960 to

The median salary the amount- received by the worker
landing at the middle point, with half of his associates
eceiving more and the other half less was $1200 in agen-
ies having two to three workers. In agencies employing
ifty or more the figure ranged upward to $1650. The range
>jr size of city from 25,000 or less to 500,000 and over

& from $1500 to $1635.

A top salary of $1650 for the average case worker in a
arge agency is nothing to write home about, and consid-
rably less can be said for the $1200 in the small agencies.
>uch a worker may well have several dependents. As a
eacher in a school of social work, I frequently discover stu-
ents who, out of the beginning salaries of their first jobs,
xpect to contribute to the support of parents or of younger
>rothers and sisters. Case workers with families of their
wn have a more serious problem, for the Brookings Insti-
ution and the Bureau of Home Economics of the U.S.
department of Labor are in agreement that a completely
atisfactory diet for a family of four is not assured on any
alary less than $3000 a year.

The Hurlin study showed a situation none too good for

many executives, the median ranging from $1800 to $5400
according to size of agency, and from $2050 to $4900 ac-
cording to size of city. The maximum for case workers,
however, was $3000 while that for executives was "over
$10,000." And another interesting fact was the change in
the ratio of case workers' salaries to those of executives
as the agency or the city grows larger. In the smallest agen-
cies and cities the case worker's pay was from two thirds to
"73 percent of that of the executives in the same agencies,
while in the largest agencies and cities the ratio was 30 and
33 percent, respectively.

Promotion and tenure are additional factors in the eco-
nomic security of any employe. In social work there are no
generally accepted principles governing either. Standards
may have been worked out in specific agencies, but they are
not generally recognized. It is true, and I gladly bear testi-
mony to it, that executives in social agencies usually have a
high sense of obligation to workers on their staffs, and that
there is a very general sense of loyalty, working both ways
of worker to agency and of executive to staff. But this
is no safeguard against ruthlessness when it does manifest
itself. Over the years, as editor, as teacher, and as officer
or committee member of the American Association of Social
Workers, I have heard of many cases of what seemed to
me unjust discharge. I need mention only two, one of them
occurring twenty-one years ago, the other last month. In
April 1917 the executive of a large social agency dismissed
an employe because on the day before Congress declared
war against Germany, she had circulated a petition in the
office, addressed to Congress, asking that body not to de-
clare war. She was exercising that privilege which is
declared by the Constitution to be a fundamental right of
citizenship. And she was discharged on the ground that she
lacked "patriotism."

IN twenty-one years we ought to have made some progress
in personnel policies and in general we have done so.
But last month three employes of another New York
agency were dismissed without notice, two of them for an
alleged "lack of cooperation" and the third, who protested
the dismissal of the first two, for "gross insubordination."
Requests for a more specific statement have been refused
and the workers were even denied an opportunity to finish


writing up their case records. Incidentally these three young
women were members of a minority group in the agency
who had joined the Social Service Employes' Union.

Social work employes need protection against such arbi-
trary and unjust conduct on the part of an executive, just
as wage earners need it against similar behavior on the part
of straw bosses and foremen. In neither case does the pres-
ence of fair-minded and just executives elsewhere constitute
an adequate remedy.

IT is a peculiarity of social work that its practitioners are
both employes and members of a profession. Hence it is
that they are interested, not merely in their own economic
well-being, but in something that we might call professional
security. Involved in professional security is a sense of be-
longing to a profession and of helping to develop its prac-
tices and build its standards and code of ethics. And vitally
important to the foregoing is the participation in such activ-
ities as a matter of right.

So far as executive decisions are concerned these problems
fall into two areas: those involving matters with respect to
which standards of practice have been so far developed that
any deviation from them would be generally recognized as
improper ; and those involving new situations or other prob-
lems about which professional opinion is not yet crystallized.
The former type of problem can be dealt with by the ex-
ecutive with assurance he is not acting arbitrarily, he is the
voice of his profession. With respect to the latter he has no
such authority. Here staff conferences are indicated where
the role of employer and employe are set aside and execu-
tive and staff member meet as professional equals. Only thus
can a code of ethics be built upon and enlarged.

It is obvious, therefore, that professional security may be
threatened by an executive who in addition to exercising
his authority by putting into effect the recognized practices
of his profession, makes his own decisions in areas where
professional guidance is lacking. Moreover, it is possible for
the executive to act unprofessionally even in the area of
professional agreement. He may do so by issuing orders to
young and inexperienced staff members without bothering
to make sure that they understand the principles involved.
The executive is a leader of associates who are members of
his own profession. When he forgets that, he becomes a
boss rather than a leader, and the relationship ceases to be
one of professional comradeship.

It is possible for the executive to threaten the professional
status of the worker. It is possible, also, for the board of
an organization or a council of social agencies or a com-
munity chest to do it. When an agency is arbitrarily ex-
cluded from the benefits of cooperative fund-raising because
the board of the fund disapproves of the political or social
philosophy of an employe of the agency, or because the
agency itself has attacked recognized evils such as starva-
tion wages, or has assisted in a free speech campaign, the
exclusion constitutes an attack on the professional security
of every social worker in the community.

Professional security is threatened also when community
action vitally affecting social work is undertaken without
adequate discussion with the social workers themselves, and
without their full participation. New York social workers
have not failed to note the absence of full consideration of
the principle suggested here in the launching last spring of
the Greater New York Fund. Its sponsors obviously be-
lieved that time consuming conferences would interfere
with its success. Consequently the profession of social work,

as such, was not given adequate opportunity to offer thn
counsel and assistance which the experience of its memberi
qualifies it to give. This was an oversight that can be con
reeled another year.

When I refer to social security as one of the objectives OD
social work, I mean much more than unemployment insun
ance, old age pensions, or compensation for accidents. Valu-i
able and indispensable as these things are, they amount t
very little without the basic security of free assembly, free*
dom of speech and press, and due process of law in its estab
lished and historic sense. The whole country knows tha
these fundamental rights are being ignored at present ii
one of our great cities. The importance of it extends be
yond the particular issues, and beyond the borders of Jerse 1
City. In what is happening there the basis is being laid fo
the same violation of elemental justice as that which ha
kept Mooney and Billings in prison in California fo
twenty-one years for a crime they did not commit.

We need not suppose, however, that there is something
novel about Jersey City. The temporary denial of constitu
tional rights there is not typical, of course. But even tb
casual student of social and economic history knows tha
there have been recurrent attacks on the principles outlinei
in the Bill of Rights. These attacks are not upon abstrac
principles. They are attacks upon human personality and a
such they tear down the safeguards that it is the business
of social work to build up.

WHAT has trade unionism in social work to do with'
this? In the first place, as said before, social worker'
are employes and as such are subject to the economic hazard i
that are common to all who work for wages or salaries
What has proved effective in the economic area for iron
molders and coal miners may reasonably be supposed to bfl
effective for social workers.

In the second place, social workers are professional per
sons. If organization is of value for them in the economii
area why not in the professional area also? But do we no
have our professional organization in the AASW, and i
not that sufficient? We do, it is of utmost value, but it i
not sufficient. In the AASW we meet as members at largi
of a profession. General professional problems can be deal
with there better than anywhere else. But individually w->
are employes of agencies and some of the most importan
professional problems are those arising within agencies. Thili
AASW can deal with the profession as a whole. It neve
has been effective in dealing with individual executives and
specific agency boards.

In the third place, social workers are citizens, with all thi
obligations and rights that status involves. As citizens whc
are at the same time social workers they are concerned, tr
an unusual degree, in the enactment and administration
social legislation, and in the maintenance of democratii
processes. It is important that they should have full free
dom of action in this area a freedom that organizatior
will do much to establish and protect.

With respect to most of these matters the interests of thi
social worker are similar to those of the trade unionists ii! (
industry. There is more in common between social worke:
and industrial worker than either has, until recently i
thought possible. It follows from this not only that a unioi>
is a fit instrument for the social worker in the defense ot
his rights and the advancement of his interests, but th
affiliation with the labor movement as a whole is appropriate
and desirable for him.


Nineteen Thirty Eight


State Board of Control, Austin, Tex.

I AM the State Division of Child Welfare.
I have been asked to help a boy.

The local probation officer called me about a sixteen-year-
old lad held in jail.
The probation officer wanted to know what to do with him.
I have started to learn the facts.

He cannot read and write.
is never gone to school.

His parents were wandering junk dealers.

They landed in Prettytown a few years ago, developed pneu-
monia, and died.

They left this son, two younger daughters, and a baby

The younger girl was placed in adoption by a thoughtful

He sent the two boys and the older girl to an orphanage
far away.

His community was no longer responsible.

The older girl did not stay at the orphanage.

Having gonorrhea, she had to be sent to a hospital in another

Upon her release from the hospital, she was sent to a dif-
ferent institution.

The older boy, the one I am working with, ran away from
the orphanage.

He was unhappy.

He has never been able to return to see his little brother,

Because the institution heads have threatened to send him to
the reformatory.

Running away from unhappiness is a criminal offense.

When these children were rudely broken away from home
and family,

Little skill was used to locate relatives.

A few months after the children were "placed," a grand-
father, his wife, and an uncle arrived from nearby.

They had just heard of the parents' deaths.

These near of kin mentioned other relatives in an adjoining

Yet, nothing was done.

The people of Prettytown thought these people were bums.

They didn't take the trouble to know them.

There are two strikes on you when you just happen to be a

The boy has been ill.

At the time his parents died within a week of each other, he

was bedridden with pneumonia.
He has not been well since.
He may have tuberculosis now.
His bodv reveals boils.

He had not had a haircut in months when I first saw him.

His clothes were of an ancient, worn vintage.

He owned a coat, pants, shoes, and a shirt that might once

have been white.

He looked unreal under his battered, scarecrow hat.
For over a week now he has sat in jail.

There a "bookie," too proud to pay his fine, and an insane

man, waiting delivery to an asylum, have been his


This isn't so bad, for he is used to jails.
Other county probation officers have incarcerated him for a

few days at a time until they decided to let him wander

on to the next county jail.
The police have fingerprinted him three times even though

he has never broken any laws:
Unless it is the crime of being born into our civilization.

The boy begs my aid now.

I can't do much.

My state has little money for such foolishness as a human

It does have broad, beautiful highways.

Maybe my state will spend money to punish this boy years
later when his possible criminal behavior reflects my
state's neglect and cruelty.

The county is in the same fix.

Besides what counts is not helping a human life, but know-
ing that this boy is of no local concern.

He doesn't live within an arbitrary county line.

In fact, he has no home.

I HAVE set myself several tasks.
I shall take this boy each day for an airing away from the

jail where he doesn't belong.
I am going to have a doctor cure those boils.
I am going to have a doctor determine if he has tuberculosis.
I am going to learn if it is safe to place him in a private

If it is, I am going to find a home where he can stay and

work for his keep
Until I can plan to reunite his family and give them a home

with some useful folk

Who have time for some things beside bridge and gossip.
I am going to see that he learns to play with other children,
That he learns to read and write.
I promise myself that he shall not go to the reformatory

and exist there symbolic of my community's 'indolence

and neglect.
I promise myself that he shall not go to the reformatory

where its limitations tend to breed criminals.
I am haunted by the specter of youthful thousands in this

state like my sixteen-year-old boy.

Marriages Insured Against Syphilis


Staff member, Council of State Governments

WITH the passage of the medical certification law
which went into effect the first of July, New York
became the twelfth state to require a premarital
examination for syphilis as a pre-requisite for the issuance
of a marriage license. Within the last year alone, more than
five states have added this legislation to their statute books.
The trend is of singular importance, both for the present
campaign against syphilis and for the recent movement to
raise and unify the standards of the state marriage laws in
general. If this type of legislation is widely adopted by the
states, it may come to play a decisive role in the fight to rid
the country of syphilis. And in addition it may prove the
stimulus for a general revision of our present marriage laws,
looking toward a relatively uniform system of state mar-
riage regulation.

Specific provisions of the premarital examination laws
differ from state to state, some requiring the examination
only of the prospective bridegroom, others of both appli-
cants. But the recent New York law is typical of the gen-
eral legislation in this field. It requires for both applicants
a standard blood test and a doctor's statement on the ab-
sence of syphilis. Under its provisions:

Both applicants for the marriage license go to a licensed phy-
sician and submit to a standard blood test for syphilis, the
blood examination being made by an approved state laboratory.

In a confidential report to the physician, the laboratory
records the name of the applicant and the result of the test.

On the form which the applicant submits to the marriage
license clerk, the laboratory records the name of the applicant
and the fact that a blood test has been taken.

With the laboratory report to guide him, the physician
records his findings as to whether in his opinion the applicant
is affected with syphilis in a stage which is or may become

If the physician finds no syphilis the applicant is permitted
to marry, and the statement of the laboratory and of the physi-
cian then is submitted to the marriage clerk within twenty
days of the taking of the blood sample.

The provisions of the law are automatically waived for both
applicants if the woman is pregnant, and in other special cases
the provisions of the law may be temporarily waived by a
judge. The laboratory record of the blood test is kept in abso-
lute confidence at the State Health Department or at the city
department in cities over fifty thousand population.

The violaion of any of these provisions either by the appli-
cant, the clerk or the physician, is declared a misdemeanor.

This general type of legislation has been criticized, both
by those who regard the physical examinations as incon-
clusive and by those who object to the prohibitive features
of some of the laws.

In regard to the validity of the tests, it has been well-
established that the result of a blood test, alone, is not
always a reliable index to the absence or presence of syphi-
lis. During the early stages, for example, the tests may fail
to record the presence of syphilis. Likewise, if treatment is
begun in the early stages, the blood tests may remain nega-
tive, or, if they have become positive, may revert to negative
after only inadequate treatment. It is also true that many

patients with late syphilis will never have negative blood
tests, no matter how well they are treated ; yet under proper
conditions, they should be permitted to marry. The final
responsibility for the adequate administration of these laws
must rest, therefore, on the rank and file of the medical
profession. Critics of these laws question the present com-
petency of the average physician to administer the blood test
and properly to interpret its results.

A related criticism is directed at the features of the laws
whereby a marriage is prohibited when one or both of the
applicants is found to have syphilis in a communicable stage.
Some of those who offer this criticism favor legislation re-
quiring merely that an examination be made, with the final
decision as to whether to marry resting entirely with the
couple. Others believe that the states could better spend i
their money in a general anti-syphilis education campaign.

FOR the most part, however, this legislation has met
with widespread support from leaders, agencies as well
as individuals, in the medical, public health and social wel-
fare fields. These supporters point to the growing competency
of the average physician to take the blood sample and to >
detect the presence of syphilis. Already in New York State
many county medical societies have appointed special com-
mittees for the study of syphilis and the dissemination of'
special information to physicians. In several of the states
which already have enacted medical certification laws, de-
tailed instructions from the State Department of Health
have been sent to every physician in the state, and local
medical conferences dealing specifically with syphilology
have been held from time to time. Closely tied in with the
state program of education have been the special state lab-
oratories. In actual cases where a physician is not certain i
of his diagnosis, it is possible for him to communicate with'
the nearest state approved laboratory for special information '
and guidance. In any specific instances where an error may
be made, the proponents of these laws point out that the
requirements of the law usually can be waived after proper
administrative proceedings.

In one state in which a premarital examination law has
been operative, over 90 percent of those found to have'
syphilis were entirely unaware of their condition.

The law thus provides an important medium for state-
wide education in syphilis control, and in addition affords
valuable protection to both partners to the marriage con-
tract. The law is of special value if the physician's contact
with the applicant is handled judiciously. By telling the*'
applicants carefully and courteously that the law is for their:
benefit, that no one is trying to pry into their affairs, the'
doctor can establish a frank relationship which will aid in
discovering any past exposures to infection and will maker
the applicant willing to undertake any needed treatment.

There is as yet no complete agreement on the merits of :
the details of this type of legislation and few authorities!
regard existing laws as perfect. But, as Dr. Reginald M.
Atwater, executive secretary of the American Public Health i
Association, has said: "They offer the most effective dragnet



which we have at the moment and provide adequate loop-
holes for those cases in which there is reason which can
stand judicial inquiry why the law should be inoperative."

Many of the shortcomings of existing laws can be ob-
viated by well-directed educational campaigns. An educated
public, for example, is almost essential both to the passage
and administration of the laws, but the needed public co-
operation must wait on thorough public understanding, and
for this reason several of the states have gone so far as to
pass lau s which will not become effective until 1939 or 1940.

Online LibrarySurvey AssociatesSurvey midmonthly : journal of social work (Volume 74) → online text (page 70 of 109)