« AnteriorContinuar »
of the social agency in touch with it. But adequate care of the disabled person or family and the education of the committee can go hand in hand. The requirements for both are the same.
For example, I was recently told of the case of a bricklayer who had come to one of the charitable societies in New York for aid. He was a foreigner, and at the time was not working at his trade, but was employed as a porter in one of the large downtown buildings. He had a large family, and, since his pay was only $12 a week, the children were not getting enough to eat. The question before the committee was what to do. Four alternatives emerged from the discussion: first, the society could supplement the man's wages by a regular weekly allowance to the family and let him continue at work where he was; second, the society might try to get his employer to pay him more wages and let him still stay where he was; third, it might try to get him back into his trade of bricklaying where he could earn a larger wage, the society underwriting the family's needs until he should become re-established; fourth, it might find him better paying work outside his trade.
It will be seen that any one of the other courses would be better than the first, the straight charitable supplementing of his wages. To quote the words of a leading case worker, "the old attitude toward relief in aid of wages that regarded it as an abominable interference with the interests of the independent laborer and a probable handicap to the future of the recipient, is still justified whenever relief is the only or the main item in our plan of treatment." Thus, instead of taking the simple and easy course involved in supplementing the man's wages, the only course that some of the committee would have thought of, it was far more serviceable to the family, and impressed an important principle upon that part of the committee, when the rule was followed which declared in effect that "industrial conditions and personal capacities are far from being as inelastic" as most of us suppose.
The careful consideration of this case brought out other lessons also. It showed that social case workers must be interested in the general mobility of labor; in getting workers into jobs where they can do their best, into places where wages for them are highest relatively or the cost of living lowest. The case worker must think of cases in terms of the whole state or the whole country and consequently must be interested in the many agencies established for the efficient exchange of labor. There may have been still other lessons, but this case will illustrate some of the reasons for urging that the treatment must be on a broad scale and for believing that in so treating them fundamental industrial principles will be taught.
Such treatment of cases, however, demands certain prerequisites, among them the following:
Thorough Investigation of Industrial Facts
First, thorough investigation of the industrial facts is imperative. A case worker who has had the opportunity to read case records made up in many parts of the country told me that he was constantly struck by the inadequacy of the investigations into the industrial factors involved in families which had become dependent. Case workers appreciate the importance of learning the essential facts as to sickness and disease when these are factors in dependency; but not so when the disability has its roots in industrial conditions. To cite one of many illustrations of this neglect, the case record often is not sufficiently explicit as to the man's or woman's occupation; the investigator too often fails to get at what is involved in the occupation. It is not enough to class a plumber's helper roughly as a plumber; for there is too great difference as to wages, nature of work done, etc., for such a classification to mean anything. Nor is it sufficient to put a painter of carriages in a carriage factory as a carriage maker. At least two facts, as Miss Van Kleeck in a paper discussing this subject has already suggested, are needed regarding occupation. The kind of industry should be ascertained, and the worker's precise position in it, including the nature of the materials handled and the health hazard involved.
Again, data as to wages are often inadequate. Workmen's earnings must be measured with at least two things in mind: not alone wage rate, but the regularity of employment. Knowledge as to annual earnings or as to the irregularity of work will give a more accurate index of the family's problem than the daily, weekly, or monthly rate could possibly do. Similarly the number of hours worked weekly and the amount of overtime work are more essential than the nominal schedule of hours per day.
Again, a man's industrial relations are important. A good illustration of this came to my knowledge recently. It was the case of a family which for some time had been going down hill. The man was a machinist and when he came to the society's notice was a strike-breaker, having turned against his fellow workers. The case workers to whom he was referred decided that for his soul's salvation he should be reinstated in his union. They found out how it could be done; that it would cost some $50. They raised the $50 and finally got him back. But in the course of six months everything was as bad as ever. He maintained that the union had discriminated against him and that he was unfairly treated. About that time two brothers of the machinist were found and they told his life story, which made it clear that here were physical and mental factors that needed to be taken into account.
While in this instance the failure in the information had to do with mental and physical factors, it must be obvious that no thorough treatment of the case would have been possible had the mental and physical factors been known but the industrial ones entirely neglected.
Very often as much is at stake in getting the facts upon which to plan a family's rehabilitation as in the preparation for a court-of-law case; yet when these facts have to do with the wage earner's industrial troubles the case worker is not nearly so thorough as even the inexperienced young lawyer. The analogies have enough in common to argue for social workers' giving more attention to the family circumstances that may be due to wrong labor conditions—for their carrying over into the field of family rehabilitation something of the technique of the professions of medicine and law.
Adequate Plan of Treatment
This leads to a second prerequisite of such adequate handling of industrial cases as shall make them useful as educational material and in addition a contribution toward industrial reform; namely, more adequate treatment of industrial cases. The first step in handling cases, as I understand it, is investigation and diagnosis; the second, treatment —decision as to a plan of treatment and the carrying of it out. The decision as to plan is made by the case committee. Since many cases involve health and legal questions, the committee usually includes at least one doctor and a lawyer. Other types of training or experience are represented; but I wonder how often the committee includes a person who is a specialist in labor questions. I do not mean ,a partisan of either side, but someone who understands the broad implications of the questions coming up and who can bring informed and impersonal judgment to bear on the plans to be worked out. Such persons, of course, are rare; but I fancy not quite so rare as we may think. When looked for, they are often discovered in very unexpected places. But if none such is available, it would seem only advisable that along with the employer's point of view usually found represented on the committee there should be someone who sees things from the point of view of the worker in the ranks, even if he be a partisan.
Personal Equipment of the Case Worker
Indeed, I am inclined to think something more than either of these things suggested is needed. The professional case worker himself or herself needs to possess considerable knowledge of industrial issues. I realize, of course, that professional case workers cannot be specialists in physiology and hygiene, in psychoanalysis, law, industry, and every other branch of human knowledge; but it seems to me that they should nevertheless have a certain introductory acquaintance, at least, with all of these fields in order to make their work succeed at all. And I wonder whether industry is not one of the fields that needs a good deal of their thought and attention. If the case worker is to get what is involved in a particular occupation he must have a general comprehension of what can be involved in the occupation. He not only ought to have some real grasp of industrial questions, but he should appreciate the importance of industrial questions. Miss Richmond, in her book on Social Diagnosis, indicates two kinds of equipment needed by the social case worker for his daily task. "To be a good case worker," he says, "he must have a generous conception, and one filled with concrete details, of the possibilities of social service, and this conception must be a growing one. It must grow with his growing experience and also with each year's freight of social discovery."
Appreciation of Relation Between Wages and Health
If I interpret this correctly, when applied to the industrial field, it means that the case worker should not only be acquainted with the results of research and discovery in the industrial field, but that the way in which industrial issues are insinuated into most of our social relations should be recognized by him. It is part of his working equipment, for example, to appreciate, as Surgeon General W. C. Gorgas pointed out at the Fifteenth Annual Conference of Health Officers of New York State, that wages and health are directly related. To use General Gorgas' words:
It is the health officer's duty to urge forward these measures in his community which will control individual diseases; but my long experience has taught me that it is still more his duty to take that broader view of life which goes to the root of bad hygiene, and do what he can to elevate the general social conditions of his community. This, my experience has taught me, can best be accomplished by increasing wages. [The Italics are mine.] Such measure tend at the same time to alleviate the poverty, misery and suffering which are occurring among the poorest classes everywhere in modern communities.
Thus, also, would General Gorgas have the health officer, who in much of his work is a case worker, see that at least part of his responsibilities lie in the industrial field.
Health and the Hours of Labor
Similarly, the case worker should understand something of what industrial physiology is discovering as to the hours a man or woman may properly work and how the human factor can and cannot be used in industrial processes. Dr. Frederic S. Lee, consulting physiologist of the United States Public Health Service and professor of physiology in Columbia University, for example, in a review of recent work as to the bearing of physiological science upon industrial efficiency, sums up his opinions as follows:
"Industrial physiology tells us, in the interest of a large output, not only to keep the hours of labor down to what experience has shown to be a reasonable limit, but to choose this limit in accordance with the fatiguing effects of the different specific occupations. It tells us to introduce recess periods into long spells, to omit Sunday labor, and to impose overtime on already fatigued workers only in rare emergencies and when compensation can be given by free hours later. It tells us not to keep the same workers continually on the night shift, but to alternate night with day work. It tells us that each worker and each task possesses a specific standard of strength, and it indicates in what task each worker will probably prove most efficient. It tells us that each worker has a rhythm that is best adapted to his own neuromuscular mechanism and that it is advantageous to place in a squad of workers doing a specific task only those possessing similar rhythms, eliminating the faster and the slower individuals, and then to adjust the speed of operation to the common rate. Such instances as these few reveal the scope of industrial physiology and show how it is indicating some of the ways in which the most intricate of all industrial machines, the body of the worker, must be used in order to bring out its greatest usefulness."
Income, Morals, and Ethics
Again, the case worker's equipment should include a working appreciation of the relation of income to ethics and morals. Those who heard Professor James H. Tufts, head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago, deliver his address on The Ethics of the Family at the Baltimore Conference will recall how his remarks on income and ethics, from the point of view of the student of philosophy, coincided with earlier conclusions of Professor Simon N. Patten, arrived at from the point of view of the sociologist and political scientist. Among other things, Professor Tufts said:
"The great point on which more positive ethics for the working-class family should center, I repeat, is a higher standard of living, a higher wage and a better house, better opportunities for play, and longer and better
education for children The lack of privacy, decency, comfort,
and resources in which great multitudes of our city children are now brought up is a far stronger menace to family life than any ethical—or unethical— theory or any frequency of divorce, and when we have remedied some of these conditions, we can speak more confidently as to the next thing."
At another, earlier place in the same address, he said, "If, therefore, one is to help the morals of the working-class family, the raising of the standard of living is evidently the most hopeful line of attack, whether this takes the individual form of better training and education of both boys and girls, or the form of public control of housing and sanitation, or public insurance for unemployment, accidents, and illness, and ultimately of a juster distribution of gains."
These conclusions suggest that reached by Mr. John Nolan, of the National Housing Association, and stated at the Providence session of that organization. He emphatically declared that the housing problem of most of our communities would never be solved until the wage question of our communities comes nearer being settled. I do not understand this to mean that housing conditions depend wholly upon wages; improvement in the wage scale must be accompanied by other reforms and improvements also. But it does mean that wages are a very important and vital factor in the housing question; and that its ultimate solution will not be reached until the wage situation is much improved, to say the least.
The Industrial Reformer's Help Needed
And so on; the testimony of seasoned students and observers could be quoted at length. In so doing, we should very often be merely expressing in new phrases conclusions which many social workers have put into the public print long ago. And yet, in spite of it all, it is my conviction (I may be wrong, and I hope I am) that most of us who have known these things have not acted sufficiently on the knowledge, have not made it function in our own communities. Possibly this is because we have