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STATEMENT OF HENRY CARTER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL CONFER
ENCE OF FORTY PLUS CLUBS OF THE UNITED STATES
Senator McNAMARA. Do you have a statement?
Mr. CARTER. I have a statement which Mr. Spector is having reproduced. I think it will be ready probably tomorrow.
Senator MCNAMARA. You may proceed.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HENRY CARTER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF
FORTY PLUS CLUBS
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, by way of introduction I would state that my name is Henry Carter; I am a practicing lawyer in Alexandria, Va., and in Washington; and I am president of the so-called National Conference of Forty Plub Clubs. I am not here to ask for anything except the opportunity of telling you a little about the 40-plus movement.
The 40-plus movement represents a self-help effort to overcome the age barrier in employment, on the part of men over 40, primarily business executives and professional men from the middle brackets of business and industry. It thus represents a segment of the unemployment situation which is relatively small, numerically speaking, but which is unusually rich in skills and experience, men who would normally constitute the backbone of any business enterprise. They are men who are accustomed to taking responsibility and making decisions, men who are used to working with others in business organizations and enterprises. In military terms they would be the colonels and field officers of business. They thus have a certain community of temperament and background which makes it possible for them to cooperate more readily and effectively than would be possible in a broader segment of the unemployed. That they are unemployed is due to a variety of reasons, mostly beyond their control—there has been an illness, theirs or in their family, which has compelled them to drop out of their organization; many have been called or have volunteered for military or other Government duty; many of them are on the beach as a result of business mergers, or a closedown of the business employing them. They are not deadbeats, nor are they business or social misfits. On the contrary, they are as a group self-respecting and experienced men who, after a period of useful and responsible employment at good pay, suddenly find themselves cast on the cold waters of unemployment, especially cold for men who have passed 40 or who are considered too old to qualify for the pension and retirement systems which have now so taken over business organizations, large and small.
The 40-plus movement started in Boston in 1938, when, in the aftermath of the business recession of 1937, a group of unemployed business executives and professional men combined to pool their experience and contacts to find jobs for themselves and each other. Highly successful in the Boston and New England area, it spread to New York and other areas, and within 2 or 3 years there were 25 to 30 active 40 plus clubs in principal cities of the United States, and 2 or 3 in Canada. The war, with its enormous demands for military and industrial personnel, in effect removed the need for many of these clubs, and only eight survived—Boston, New York, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. These were joined by Washington in 1953, and in 1958 by Denver and Fort Lauderdale.
In 1956 the National Conference of Forty Plus Clubs was established, with headquarters in Washington, to act as agent and representative of the clubs(1) to assist the member clubs in enlarging employment opportunities for 40 plus mbers; (2) to act as a channel for the exchange of mation and for discussion among the clubs; (3) to serve as a convenient central point of contact with governmental agencies, large corporations, foundations, research organizations, newspapers, and magazines of national circulation; (4) to emphasize to the public and employers generally the business value of employing older men of mature experience, knowledge, and judgment.
As they now exist, the Forty Plus Clubs may be described as nonprofit associations of men of executive and professional background, over 40 years of age, with mature experience and abilities and with good records in responsible positions at remunerative salaries (as defined by each individual club), who have combined in group efforts in their various communities to secure employment for themselves and each other. They are independent, self-established and selfgoverning grassroots organizations formed by local initiative in their various communities to meet the particular needs of their members and local conditions of employment. They are self-supporting through membership dues, separation contributions, contributions from the local communities and similar sources. They are self-maintaining in that the work of finding employment for the members is done by the members themselves, usually on a basis of 2 days a week while unemployed, without compensation, on a basis of mutual cooperation and self-help. They are assisted in their respective communities by advisory boards of representative business and professional leaders. They are not employment agencies, as we ordinarily understand that phrase.
Since the Forty Plus Clubs operate upon a basis of group action in their respective communities, they are seldom in a position to assist men located far outside the communities in which they exist. However, since the problem of employment for men over 40 is a difficult one in all parts of the country, there would appear to be room for the formation of Forty Plus Clubs in many communities not now covered. And while experience suggests that a Forty Plus Club, to be successful, should cover in its activity a population area of at least 1 million, nevertheless it is possible that groups organized on 40-plus lines might be effective in smaller communities, and it is hoped that such possibilities will be explored by local groups.
In the last 2 years two new clubs have been formed-Denver and Fort Lauderdale--and two have been compelled to close their doors—Detroit and Buffalo this due to the sharp impact in those particular cities of the 40-year criterion in employment. The current business boom and high rate of employment have cut the membership of the surviving clubs, some of which are reported in difficult financial straits, but if there should be any slackening in the business pace, or a business recession, the Forty Plus Clubs will find themselves in renewed demand, for the record unfortunately shows that men over 40 are the first to be let go, and the last to be rehired. In these circumstances the role of the national conference, which has been financed by contributions from the clubs, has been a limited one, but it has handled a large volume of inquiries regarding the Forty Plus Clubs; it has been instrumental in the establishment of the two new clubs and has laid the groundwork for the formation of others; it has established useful contacts with such agencies as Departments of Labor, Health, Education, and Welfare, and Commerce; with Brookings Institution, the Ford Foundation, the Committee for Economic Development, and the National Planning Association; it bas publicized the 40-plus problem on the air and by magazine and newspaper articles; and it has held itself ready to appear before committees such as this one.
To evaluate the work of the Forty Plus Clubs, I think it is necessary to look to what I shall call reputation, rather than to any organized set of statistics. In actual numbers of men placed, the number would be very small indeed as compared with the total number of unemployed or reemployed. However, in terms of its own membership, the percentage of placements it has made is high, perhaps 60-70 percent. More than this, it has offered to its members the great gift of hope and sense of belonging to something, essential factors in restoring morale, and for this it stands high in the communities in which it operates. The effect of this has to be seen in individual cases to be believed hopeless, bitter men restored to hopefulness, self-confidence, and business usefulness. Its effectiveness lies, I think, in the existence of the clubs as individual self-supporting entities in which every member has his part to play. As such they do not seek subsidies or legislative aid-in fact such subsidies or aid might smother the spirit which keeps them going. At all times they are dependent on themselves and on the good will of their respective communities. When the need is great they will flourish, and when need slackens, as at present, they will tend to fall off.
A possible exception to this rule might be made in the case of the national conference which is supported by the necessarily modest contributions of member clubs, and any philanthropist who might wish to finance its missionary activities on a more adequate scale might be pleasantly surprised by the results. However, no such philanthropist has yet appeared and none at present is in sight, and we do not feel that there is a duty on any individual or organization, public or private, to supply this lack. But if voluntary financial support should appear, we would know what to do with it.
Unemployment among older men, especially in these days of mass industry, mass labor, and mass markets, is far too complex a problem to be solved by any particular formula. Indeed, it may be solvable only in part in the best of circumstances, but there are things which can be done which can help. Federal, State, and city governments can give special attention to removing any age barriers in their civil service and State and city services. Also, Federal and State employment services can establish special measures to place older workers, especially those with executive and professional background. And in these two fields commendable progress has been made at Federal, State, and city levels. However, by far the greatest employer in the United States is private industry, and here we find a field which is swayed by irrational age taboos, and more especially is shackled by a network of welfare, retirement, and pension plans which bind workers and executives into their companies, and which present a formidable barrier to the reemployment of anyone over, say 40 in many cases the age limit is even less. I am not opposed to retirement and pension plans as such—far from it—but must they be so rigid and so exclusive? Above all, must they be administered so as to exclude older men and womenwith good records merely because they have passed some arbitrary age line? Is it sound public policy? Is it even good business?
For this I have no answer save to ask the question, and to ask private industry and the insurance companies who devise and operate these plans to ask the question of themselves. It is an urgent question, becoming more urgent as the lifespan of Americans increase. Do we want a third of the Nation on old-age relief, especially when so many of them can and want to work at useful occupations? It is a matter more of public education than of legislation, and as such it is attracting more and more attention, and more and more consideration. There are many voices of protest and concern to be heard, among them the voice of Forty Plus, and your committee affords a most important forum in which they can be heard. Perhaps more answers will come as these hearings and others like them proceed, and I believe that in providing this forum the Senate is fulfilling one of its most important and praiseworthy functions.
I thank you for your consideration.
Mr. CARTER. My name is Henry Carter. I am president of the National Conference of 40-Plus Clubs of the United States.
Te 40-plus clubs of the United States are concerned with the area that Mr. Cowan so forcefully pointed out, the area of the old worker where the man over 40 cannot get a job and he is too young to die. A little more precisely, it is the group of men between 40 and 60 or 65 who are still ablebodied, who have good experience, good records, good abilities, and yet, owing to the so-called age barrier—I do not know what it is based one but it is a real one-cannot get jobs.
I think all of us who remember the depression of 1935 will recall that anybody can become unemployed for reasons not of his own controlling. That is still true to a lesser degree than in those unhappy days, but things like this happen. There is an illness in thet family. A man gets sick and has to give up his job and go away, or his wife gets tuberculosis and they have to move to a better climate, or there are any one of a dozen different medical accidents of that sort.
Also there are cases where men find themselves out because of a change of management; or the company merges with another company and they are out on the street and through no fault of their own. Others of them go into the armed services. They may have to stay longer than they expected. Others may have taken Federal or State positions and, when they get through their stint with the Government, State or Federal, they come back and there is no job for them.
It is those groups that the 40-plus clubs were formed to help. The 40-plus clubs started in Boston about 1938 in the aftermath of the 1937 recession, when a group of unemployed executives and depression men over 40 who found themselves constantly stymied by this 40-year bugaboo in getting reemployment decided to try pooling their efforts and their information and contracts on a cooperative basis to see if they could not dig up jobs for themselves and for each other.
Mr. A might dig up a job not suited for Mr. A but sounding good for Mr. B, and Mr. B might find something which would interest Mr. A or Mr. Ć.
This was a purely voluntary grassroots effort to meet this problem.
The movement was very successful in Boston and the New England area generally and spread very rapidly to New York, and I believe to something like 25 or 30 of the major cities of the United States. This was before the war.
The war with its demands on manpower both for military service and war production quite literally put more than half of these 40-plus clubs out of business. It just sucked up all their members.
At the end of the war, in the late forties and early fifties, there were only eight of them left. That was Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. These were joined in 1953 by Washington, which has a very active and successful 40-plus club, and since then, two more clubs have been formed, one in Denver and one in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Unfortunately, the Detroit club and Buffalo club have had to go out of business. Apparently the impact of the 40-year rule, particularly in highly industrialized sections, is such that these just could not place their members.
In the other cities, it is a queer thing to say but they are suffering a little bit on account of the present boom of employment and of prosperity but, if that lets up for a second, the clubs will spring back into very much more active existence than they are at present.
Our experience and the record seems to show that when things slacken down a bit, the first men to be let go are the men over 40 and the last to be taken back are also the men over 40.
We, in this country, as other speakers have mentioned this morning, are running into a new phenomenon in the growth of population. The population of the people over 40 is increasing dramatically. I hesitate to quote any statistics but I think I have seen Labor Department statistics which will show that by 1965 a good third of the population will be over 45 or 50. I am subject to correction on that, but I give it as indicative of the present trend.
As Mr. Cowan said, what are we going to do with these older people who are able bodied, capable, and in many cases highly qualified to work? Are we going to put them on old-age relief? If so, we are going to have one-third of the Nation on old-age relief as sure as shooting. The more drastic expedients available to our friends in Russia, unfortunatly, or fortunately, are not available to us.
The 40 plus clubs have gotten along on their own. They have financed themselves by membership dues, initiation fees, separation contributions, and some local contributions. Primarily, though, they have existed on the good will of the communities in which they live. Usually they have an advisory committee of leading businessmen and professional men who act as their certificate of respectability, so to speak, and who, through their contacts, assist them in finding suitable positions for the membership.
I do not think it would be advisable for either State or Federal legislation to attempt to subsidize such a movement. I think a grass
roots movement such as this would suffer rather than be helped if they were to become dependent upon anybody but their own efforts for their own salvation. That is where they made their success, and that is where I think their success must lie in the future.
However, there are a number of fields in which Federal and State Governments may be able to be of indirect assistance in dealing with this general problem not only as it affects 40-plus membership but all workers over 40. They can take care that their own civil service, the U.S. Civil Service, the State civil service, and the city civil service do all they can to do away with the age barrier in their employment and promotional policies and I think it is fair to say that they have already done quite a good deal. The Department of Labor has done extraordinary work in setting up older worker and professional services and establishing branch offices in many of the larger cities. However, the biggest employer of labor in this country is private industry and, when you get into the field of private industry, you find a field that is swayed by a great many superstitions such as "a man over 40 is no good or he would not be out of work.” I think that most of us here have heard that statement directly or indirectly. I think that is not true.
A more specific area and one to which I think this committee and other committees might well turn their attention is the effect of the so-called pension and retirement plans upon the reemployment of men over 40 or 45. It is extremely difficult, and I have been told this by honest men friendly to the 40-plus movement, that it is almost impossible for them to put men over 40 or 45 on their payrolls on account of the requirements of their pension systems. Pension systems look primarily to having a low average age preferably around 28 or 30 and, when you put in a man 45 or 50 or 55, he raises that age level and the premiums increase accordingly.
Furthermore, even when men are willing to forgo in salary the expense of those excess premiums, they often find themselves confronted by a statement that the insurance companies will not waive that or the employers will not waive that. This is a field in which I have no answers, but I think this subcommittee could find a few. Ask a few large employers, a few large insurance companies, how and why their pension plans should work that way. Must they work that way? Must they exclude a large and ever-growing body of the best men of America ?
Senator McNAMARA. How much would it cost to change that? That would be an important factor. It would be more expensive?
Mr. CARTER. It would be more expensive.
Senator McNAMARA. That would be something that the subcommittee ought to inquire into and we will do that.
As I understood your statement, you recommend that professional groups should be exempt from Federal regulation?
Mr. CARTER. I did not say exempt from Federal regulation but from subsidy.
Senator McNAMARA. From Federal subsidy?
Senator McNAMARA. They should not be included in any group plan as industrial workers or others. You think that the professional