We recently brought in 54 boxes that were labeled as files from Dr. Donald Feldstein’s office as Director of the Community Services department of FJP in the 1970s and 1980s. Two boxes, however, were much older. One box contained agency budget and subject files, 1927-1941, belonging to Executive Vice-President (EVP) Dr. Solomon Lowenstein, and the second box contained agency budget and subject files, 1938-1941, belonging to Dr. Maurice Hexter, then Assistant EVP to Dr. Lowenstein. Longtime readers of this blog may remember that many of Hexter’s files were processed in 2011-2012, and that he and Joseph Willen served as co-EVPs for 25 years (1942-1967).
Hexter’s subject files in this new box included two thick folders labeled, “Personnel Practices”, and covered more than a year, 1940-1941, when negotiating with the union that represented employees of Federation child care agencies, primarily the New York Association for Jewish Children.
From 1940 to 1941 Federation and some of its agencies were embroiled in negotiations with child care workers over salaries, number of hours in a work week, and other personnel issues.
According to a March 7, 1941 letter to “Friends” from Evelyn Adler, President of the Social Service Employees’ Union (SSEU), Local 19, the situation involved the “welfare of 400 employees of the New York Association for Jewish Children (NYAJC). That situation has grown out of the merger which brought that organization into being in January 1940 — the combining of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, the Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society, the Jewish Children’s Clearing Bureau, and the Fellowship House, Inc.
“Social workers, we know, are generally concerned over mergers of this kind, because the professional aspects and the welfare of the employees involved are apt to be less carefully planned than the budgetary.”
The resolution of the issues and the end of the strike were reported in SSEU’s Local 19 newsletter of May 1941:
It sounds like one of the biggest improvements for the workers after the strike was the decrease in the number of hours in their workweek, which was an important detail in the negotiations.