District Director of Civilian Personnel
The District Civilian Personnel Division, formerly called the District Civilian Personnel Office, was established in the Eighth Naval District on 13 January 1941. The general functions assigned the District Civilian Personnel Director, under the current War Plans, were to administer, procure, train, distribute, obtain necessary deferments for, and maintain morale of all civilian personnel for the Navy, and to assist industries essential to the Navy in meeting personnel requirements within the Eighth Naval District.
Since all the major Naval shore activities and industries essential to the Navy had their own Personnel Officers, the major task of the District Civilian Personnel Director was a staff function, consulting with and advising such Naval activities and suppliers concerning labor supply and Selective Service matters. However, one of the first tasks assigned to the District Civilian Personnel Director was the procurement and distribution of civilian personnel for the Headquarters offices. This was an operating function which had previously been performed by the Chief Clerk in the Commandant's Office. Since manpower shortages had not become general, and since the United States had not entered the war at that time, the District Civilian Personnel Director devoted almost his entire time to this operating function. He was available to and did from time to time advise and assist other Naval shore activities in handling civilian
A District Selective Service Officer was assigned to the Headquarters Staff on 26 May 1941 with the responsibility of advising and assisting Naval activities and suppliers in obtaining deferment of essential employees. This was in addition to the Naval Liaison Officers who had previously been assigned to each State Headquarters for Selective Service as provided in the War Plans. The District Selective Service Office was established as a headquarters department and was not placed under the District Civilian Personnel Director until 6 February 1943 when the District Civilian Personnel Division was reorganized by the Commandant.1
Implementing Navy Department policy on labor relations matters, a Field Service for Industrial Relations was established by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy on 19 January 1942,2 with the primary objective of anticipating and forestalling the development or continuance of dissatisfaction or unrest among employees of firms engaged on Naval work that might threaten the morale of those employees or otherwise lead to interference with production on the projects involved. The secondary objective was to supplement factual information received by the Navy Department from other sources in important or complicated situations of labor disturbances or work stoppage. The first of three District Industrial Relations Officers was assigned to the Commandant's Staff on 18 March 1942. This office, like Selective Service, was established as a Headquarters Department, but was
placed under the District Civilian Personnel Director in the reorganization of February 1943. The District Industrial Relations Office was reestablished as a Headquarters Department by the Secretary of the Navy on 1 July 1943,3 and operated as such until it was again made a part of the District Civilian Personnel Division in the reorganization required by the Secretary of the Navy on 6 April 1944.4 This latter arrangement remained in effect until the end of the war, although the designation was changed from District Industrial Relations Office to District Labor Relations Office (1 July 1943) and the Labor Relations Section of the Division of Shore Establishments and Civilian Personnel was transferred to the Office of Procurement and Material on 15 February 1945. The District Labor Relations Office, while administratively under the District Civilian Personnel Director, was technically responsible to and received technical instructions from the Labor Relations Section of the Division of Shore Establishments and Civilian Personnel and, later, the Office of Procurement and Material.
On 22 September 1942, when labor shortages had become acute in many localities, the Industrial Manpower Section of the Secretary's Office, Shore Establishment Division was established.5 At that time the Secretary of the Navy directed that the Commandants, through the District Civilian Personnel Director, represent the interests of the Navy Department in labor supply problems within the District.6 It
was also directed that the responsibility for industrial manpower matters be delegated to the District Civilian Personnel Director and be maintained separate from Labor Relations both in function and organization, although there could be free interchange of information. This action was taken:
- To provide for the centralization on the field level of Naval participation in the activities of government agencies concerned with labor supply problems.
- To provide a channel through which labor supply problems of Naval shore establishments and Navy suppliers could be brought to the attention of appropriate agencies for solution, and through which these agencies could bring such problems to the attention of the appropriate Naval activity.
- To provide a medium through which approved labor supply policies could be disseminated to Naval activities concerned.
The District Civilian Personnel Directors were designated as the official Naval Liaison Officers in the field with the War Manpower Commission and other field organizations concerned with labor supply within the Districts. It was also provided that such liaison officers should be designated as Navy members of committees concerned with labor supply problems. On 20 January 1943 an Industrial Manpower Officer was assigned to duty in the District Civilian Personnel Director's office.
On 6 February 1943 the District Civilian Personnel Director was reorganized by District Headquarters Order No. 1-43, which established five sections under the District Civilian Personnel Director, namely: Civil Service, Labor Relations, Industrial Manpower, Vocational Training, and Selective Service. Thus the several functions were brought
together under one department for better coordination and administration. On 6 March 1943 a Vocational Training Officer was assigned to the District Civilian Personnel Director, and on 30 May 1944 the Vocational Training Officer was assigned additional duty as Safety Officer, pending the assignment of a full-time Safety Officer. By the end of 1943 labor shortages were more acute, and the War Manpower Commission and the War Production Board began establishing Manpower Priorities and Production Urgency Committees. The need for additional officers of the District Civilian Personnel Division to be stationed in the field became apparent. Additional complement was officially requested on 16 June 1944, after a visit to this Headquarters and a survey by a special representative of the Director, Division of Shore Establishments and Civilian Personnel. This additional complement was approved and officers were assigned to billets as Assistant to the District Civilian Personnel Director located at Mobile, Nashville, and Dallas. An officer on the staff of Inspector of Naval Material, Houston, was detailed manpower duties and acted as Navy member on Manpower Priority Committee and Production Urgency Committees in that area, and also assisted the District Civilian personnel Director in carrying out his functions. In the meantime, the Division of Shore Establishments and Civilian Personnel had been organized to replace Secretary's Office, Shore Establishment Division in Washington, and the District Civilian Personnel Office had been redesignated District Civilian Personnel Director. Field Position Classification Officers, provided for in the April 1944 reorganization,
had been placed under District Civilian Personnel Director administratively. At the peak the Division complement was fourteen officers. This complement was retained until 14 August 1945, although the Training Officer was detached in June 1945 and the Safety Officer was detached in July 1945.
Beginning with only one officer, the District Civilian Personnel Director operated throughout with a minimum staff, and it was not until the urgency of the situation required it that the Division was expanded and fully staffed to perform all the functions for which it was responsible.
From the beginning and until mid-1944, when the Special Representative of Shore Establishments and Civilian Personnel visited the District, the District Civilian Personnel Director followed the policy of taking action on manpower matters only when specifically directed by Secretary's Office, Shore Establishment Division or Division of Shore Establishments and Civilian Personnel or when specifically requested by the Naval Inspection Service. As a result of this policy the District Civilian Personnel Division officers were advised of labor supply difficulties only after they had reached the acute stage. No preventive work was done by Naval officers, and the job of solving such problems as were assigned was made more difficult. It vas found through experience that production difficulties because of labor shortages could be avoided in many instances, and that other situations could be resolved more readily, by maintaining a close working relationship with the Inspection offices, War Manpower Commission
officials, and other agencies concerned, and by being able promptly to follow up on previous actions and recommendations.
The production of war materials and equipment needed by the Navy, the major part of the District Civilian Personnel Director's war effort, required that every possible effort be made to expedite and improve the efficiency of war production by aiding Navy contractors and Navy shore activities to procure, train, conserve, and utilize manpower at its highest skill. It also required that appropriate steps be taken to assure that the Navy's interests were properly considered by all agencies concerned with labor supply problems and manpower policies.
This task the District Civilian Personnel Director was authorized to carry out in an advisory capacity only. He did not assume any function of management for management, except with respect to the operation of the Headquarters Employment Office. He did recommend policies or changes in policies to the Director of the Division of Shore Establishments and Civilian Personnel, Navy Department. He also participated in the formulation of regional manpower and labor policies under the general direction of the Division of Shore Establishments and Civilian Personnel. Through his field and staff officers, he advised Navy contractors, directly when consulted by them, otherwise through the Navy Inspection Service, concerning personnel practices and labor policies necessary in carrying out approved manpower policies. Though the District Civilian Personnel Director did not assign officers to Navy activities or suppliers to carry on personnel
operations which were part of the function of management, on some occasions it was necessary to stay with an activity or supplier long enough to assist in setting up proper personnel organization and procedure.
In dealing with problems of Navy suppliers, the District Civilian Personnel Division officers worked through and with the cognizant Natal Inspection Service. The Inspector of Naval Material, Supervisor of Shipbuilding, or Bureau of Aeronautics' Representative in charge of a particular plant represented the Navy as far as the management of the plant was concerned. The effectiveness of the District Civilian personnel Division officer depended entirely on his ability and personality to sell the technical services of his organization to the activity or supplier with the problem. in almost all cases of a visit to a Navy activity or supplier, in response to a request, it was found that advice and assistance were needed also with reference to several or all of the other techniques which constitute the tools of personnel administration. It was recognized that job analysis, classification, wages, and proper job specifications, as well as training, upgrading, and labor utilization, all bear on the problem of effective recruitment. It was also recognized that the retention of experienced personnel on the job by provision of adequate employee services, adequate transfer and promotion programs, labor relations, and safety practices, could accomplish even more than procuring new workers for a plant.
A close working relationship with representatives of the Army
Service Command and Army Procurement Offices , as well as the Maritime Commission, was of great importance. In many plants more than one procurement agency had a substantial interest in production, and often joint action to procure improved personnel practice or to secure labor priorities was desirable. It was likewise found important to maintain close personal and office contacts with representatives at all levels of the War Manpower Commission, U.S. Employment Service, Civil Service, War Production Board, and all the training agencies and related Government groups. Much more could be accomplished through personal respect and confidence on the part of representatives of the agencies than could be attained by confining contacts to formal or official submission of reports and to committee meetings alone.
One of the most frequent tasks of the District Civilian Personnel Director was to arrange for a manpower priority rating or an improved rating for a Navy supplier or activity. In such cases it was necessary for the District Civilian Personnel Division officer to submit a War Production Board Form 1067 to establish a production Urgency rating and then make appropriate representation to the Chairman of the Manpower Priority Committee to obtain the priority rating. Officers of the District Civilian Personnel Division served as Navy members on 27 Manpower Priority Committees and 21 Production Urgency Committees. To support an employer's request for an employment ceiling or priority rating, it was necessary for the District Civilian Personnel Division officer to be thoroughly familiar with the firm's
production problems and manpower requirements. Often this required plant visits and surveys.
The establishment of Production Urgency and Manpower Priority Ratings was the formal and official method of assisting firms and activities in procuring labor. Perhaps equally effective were the informal techniques developed through close liaison work and personal relationships established with the War Manpower Commission and U. S. Employment Service officials. Even after the establishment of high priorities, much was accomplished in expediting referrals through such personal relationships.
The major items of Navy production within the Eighth Naval District were ships, ship repair, aircraft, petroleum products, lumber, ammunition, rockets, textiles, pontoons, and component parts. From a study by the War Production Board of approximately 10,000 major metal fabricators throughout the country during the third quarter of 1944, it is indicated that the dollar value of the total shipments of war materials from plants within the Eighth Naval District during that period was $833,178,000; of this eighteen percent, or $155,216,000, was Navy Material. These data, however, do not include non-metal products such as petroleum, lumber, textiles, and chemicals; products of small plants exempt from reporting to the War Production Board; and production of Naval establishments. Moreover, not all aircraft production is included in the Navy material since it was reported under the aircraft resources control board as the Claimant Agency.
The Production Executive Committee of the War Production Board
issued and kept current a list of products and programs which were considered most urgent. This list, commonly referred to as the "must list," was of extreme value to the District Civilian Personnel Division officers as well as other agencies concerned with war production, in that it served as a guide in directing efforts where they were most needed. In addition to the "must list," the Navy Department kept the District Civilian Personnel Director Informed regarding the urgency of certain Navy programs. At practically all times during the war the Navy had one program which was considered top urgency. These top urgency programs, of course, changed as the war progressed.
One of the first programs given such emphasis was the Destroyer Escort program. During the early part of 1943 the Destroyer Escort program was given first consideration by the District Civilian Personnel Director as well as by other Naval activities responsible for expediting production. Only two shipyards in the Eighth Naval District were engaged in the production of the Destroyer Escort: Consolidated Steel Corporation, Orange, Texas, and the Brown Shipyard at Houston, Texas; however, many firms were engaged in the production of components and subassemblies. Prior to the invasion of Europe the Landing Craft Program was given top urgency and pushed to the limit. Firms engaged in production of component parts as well as the end product were given top priority for referral of labor and special consideration was given by Selective Service in deferring key men in these plants. The District Civilian Personnel
Director's staff concentrated their efforts on the program to keep before the War Manpower Commission, War Production Beard, and Selective Service at all times the labor needs of firms engaged in the landing craft program. Schedules were accelerated several months, and practically all plants in the district met such accelerated schedules. In November 1944 the Advance Base Division of the Bureau of Yards and Docks stepped up the production of pontoons, and their program was given a very high urgency rating for a short while. No particular problem developed, with the exception of the program at Dempster Brothers at Knoxville, Tennessee, where there was an acute shortage of labor. Dempster's contract was stepped up from 200 pontoons per month to 500 per month. The Advance Bass Division would like to have had 750 per month from Dempster; however, it was impossible for this company to recruit sufficient welders to meet such a schedule. It was recommended by the District Civilian Personnel Director that the additional production be placed with firms in other localities where sufficient labor was available. The District Civilian Personnel Director also listed plants qualified to manufacture pontoons in such areas. Through keeping the War Manpower Commission and War Production Board officials advised as to the urgency of the program, no serious problems were encountered in the plants where production of pontoons was placed.
The ship repair program was one of the most difficult situations with respect to the labor supply problem with which the District
Civilian Personnel Director had to deal. There were several Repair Yards in the Eighth Naval District, the major ones being Alabama Dry Docks and Shipbuilding Company and Waterman Repair Division at Mobile, Todd-Johnson and Pendleton at New Orleans, and Todd-Galveston at Galveston, Texas. The irregularity of work, the urgency of the work when assigned, and the fact that all yards were also doing work for the Army and War Shipping Administration in addition to the Navy, were factors contributing to the difficulty. Very few Navy jobs for the repair yards were of long duration, but practically all jobs were of high urgency and came in great volume for a few weeks; then they fell off to a trickle. Consequently, the yards were under pressure to recruit additional labor for a while, and then suddenly they were reducing their forces.
Another problem applying to repair yards in general was that they required more all-around skilled workmen. The work was not such that the job could be broken down into simplified tasks as in many industries. Mechanics in repair yards were required to perform all the tasks of the trade. This difficulty was met in part by training programs conducted in practically every repair yard, and through more careful selection and placement of employees.
At the end of the war the situation in the repair yards had reached such an acute state that the District Civilian Personnel Director considered it advisable to pool the labor needs of all repair yards in the Gulf Area and request top urgency and priority ratings for them. The situation became acute because of the heavy
Increase in the work load involving repair of battle-damaged ships returned from the European theater after the surrender of Germany, and the heavy drain of ship repair workers by the West Coast recruiting under a No. 1 priority. The war ended before anything constructive could be done about this situation.
During the last year of the war the rocket program was considered one of the most urgent of the Navy programs. Production of rockets was started in many plants throughout the district and in some of the Naval establishments. No serious manpower difficulties developed in the plants producing rockets although the District Civilian Personnel Director was requested to assist in handling many problems in connection with the program.
Very little difficulty on "command construction" was encountered during the early part of the war. This was because labor shortages had not become generally acute and the wages for building trades were considerably higher for most skilled workers than those paid by shipyards and other production plants. However, after a long period of tight controls on construction exercised by the War Production Board through its controlled Material and Facilities Review Programs, most skilled construction workers had found other employment or had been inducted into the armed forces. Therefore, during the last year it was extremely difficult to obtain sufficient labor to complete any large construction project. The manning of the construction project at the Naval Ordnance Plant, Shumaker, Arkansas, was the most important single problem with which the District
Civilian Personnel Director was concerned, and as such calls for some comment.
Located five miles from Camden (population 6,000), the plant covers an area of 110 square miles spread over 70,400 acres. The total cost of the project was originally estimated at $110,000,000. Civil Engineer Corps officers arrived in November 1944, and about 1 December the District Civilian Personnel Director was asked to assist in the recruitment of labor. The American Federation of Labor had contracted to furnish skilled craftsmen, but admitted from the beginning its inability to meet common labor requirements and agreed to recruitment through the War Manpower Commission.
This plant was within the jurisdiction of the War Manpower Commission Regional Office No. IX at Kansas City. Regional and State War Manpower Commission officials were uncooperative from the beginning. They considered their offices as having been "by-passed" because they were not consulted before the decision was made to put the plant in Camden. The project was classed as "command construction" and as such was not applicable to War Production Board and War Manpower Commission regulations requiring clearance with those agencies prior to beginning construction.
War Manpower Commission officials were informed that a peak of 20,000 skilled, semi-skilled, administrative, and common-laborer workers would be required on the job. This was ridiculed by War Manpower Commission officials, who contended, quite arbitrarily and without knowledge of the plans for the project, that a maximum of
5000 workers, of all types, would be sufficient. It took a series of meetings attended by Division of Shore Establishments and Civilian Personnel and District Civilian Personnel Division manpower officers to bring the War Manpower Commission and contractors into agreement. The result was that direct hiring would be done in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas, the states covered by Region IX, and positive recruitment set up in the states of Texas and Louisiana in War Manpower Commission Region X, as well as Georgia and Mississippi in Region VII. The highest priority rating was requested by the District Civilian personnel Director through the Division of Shore Establishments and Civilian Personnel in Washington and an inter-regional "1" was obtained placing the Camden Project up with, but just after the Manhattan District Project. As a result of the series of meetings held by District Civilian Personnel Director with War Manpower Commission officials in the field and the meetings of the Division of Shore Establishments and Civilian Personnel with War Manpower Commission officials at Washington level the attitude of the War Manpower Commission organization gradually changed and full cooperation was finally obtained. It should be stated here, that by contrast, the War Manpower Commission officials of Region X were most cooperative from the beginning.
A newspaper advertising campaign was carried on, along with press releases and public statements by Governors of Arkansas and contiguous states calling attention to the urgency of the Camden
project. Near the end of December the recruitment program was still not successful, and it became clear that the contractor's representatives lacked the aggressiveness and the number of qualified personnel to man the job with the speed required. The officer in charge of construction gave the District Civilian Personnel Division representative on the job full responsibility and authority to coordinate and direct the recruiting efforts of the contractors. About the first of January the direct hiring program was extended to U. S. Employment Service offices in Texas and Louisiana, and by the middle of January 1945 workers were arriving in such numbers that housing facilities were inadequate and recruiting was curtailed. This was unfortunate in that it allowed numerous unfavorable rumors about the project to be circulated. On 18 January 1945, total overall employment for prime and sub-contractors was 13,700. On March 1, 1945, the total number of employees had reached a figure of 22,253. It was recognized that a supreme effort must be made to keep employees contented and induce them to remain on the job. Contractors' Management were not fully cognizant of the importance of establishing and maintaining good personnel relations. It took such persuasion and effort by the District Civilian Personnel Director to convince them of the necessity of this.
Absenteeism and turnover were problems from the beginning. To combat these, various measures were instituted. An Attendance Control Section was established to determine the causes of absenteeism so that remedies could be applied. When it was discovered that many
workers were leaving the project in disgust because they could not locate buildings to which they had been sent, a Guide and Messenger Service was established. A weekly newspaper, "The Rockets Roar," was started to carry items of interest to workers, and at the same time to impress upon them the importance of staying on the job and reporting for work daily. A Counselors Office was set up for exit interviews, end later figures showed that thirty to thirty-five percent of those who intended to leave were induced to return to the job. The rainy weather, one of the severest handicaps, frequently washed out roads and bridges; rain gear that was issued to the workers had to be worn almost daily. An excellent recreation and athletics program was organized, and a full-time Incentive Officer was assigned to the project. As the weather improved and these programs began to function, absenteeism and turnover rates declined.
District Civilian Personnel Director also maintained liaison with numerous Federal agencies to aid in the solution of the many problems affecting personnel relations. Conferences were held with the Office of Price Administration to obtain sufficient ration points to insure adequate feeding of workers. National Housing Agency was conferred with to assist in solution of housing problems. District Civilian Personnel Director, in cooperation with a representative of the War Manpower Commission arranged a conference of Community War Services at which were present representatives of the following Federal Agencies: Farm Security Administration, Federal Housing Administration, Federal Security Agency, Office of Community
War Services, Social Security Board, U. S. Office of Education, U. S. Public Health Service, Federal Works Agency, National Housing Agency, Office of Defense Transportation, Office of Price Administration, War Food Administration, War Manpower Commission, War Production Board, State Defense Council, State Department of Education, State Board of Health, State Planning Board, and state Department of Public Welfare.
The first rocket-loading line was turned over for production on April 23, 1945. Shortly thereafter a new evaluation of the project was made and the total cost of construction was reduced to $76,000,000 without changing the urgency of completion date of the project. It was still the Navy's No. 1 project. To conform with this revision, the Officer in Charge of Construction, during May 1945, reduced the working force by 6500 employees, or 33%, mostly by terminating careless, indifferent, chronic-absentee workers in the skilled classifications. This led to baseless rumors about the job's not going to completion, about workers not being required at Camden, so that a recruiting program for labor again was necessary. Shortages were now being felt in certain skills, such as carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and painters. The shortage of bricklayers was so critical that it necessitated redesigning some of the buildings and delayed construction of others. The union admitted failure to man the job. It was necessary to recruit bricklayers inter-regionally. The District Civilian Personnel Director made frequent trips to U. S. Employment Service offices and union business agencies
to impress upon them the urgency of the Camden Project and to request that their members be urged to answer the plea for skilled workers in these classifications.
All in all, the many problems that had to be solved caused the District Civilian Personnel Director to keep an assistant on the project from 1 December 1944 through V-J Day.
As the war in the Pacific progressed, the spare parts program became extremely urgent. It was reported that a large amount of Navy equipment in the Pacific was being immobilized because of a shortage of spare parts, and the District Civilian Personnel Director was requested by the Division of Shore Establishments and Civilian Personnel to press for any assistance needed by parts manufacturers and shippers. The District Civilian Personnel Director was called upon to assist in only one instance; but because the problem presented was of an unusual type, and because it was solved by unique means, a brief survey of the case is given here.
About 1 March 1945 the Resident Inspector of Navy Materials, New Orleans, notified the District Civilian Personnel Director that the Spare Parts Division of Higgins Industries was behind schedule on the shipment of spare parts primarily because of the lack of ten to fifteen additional laborers. A District Civilian Personnel Division representative called the Personnel Director for Higgins Industries, relaying this report and pointing out that since Higgins Industries had recently been laying off workers, it would appear that the company could solve this matter of only a few additional laborers
in the Spare Parts Division without assistance from the District Civilian Personnel Director. The personnel director readily agreed that this could be done, and that he would take care of the situation immediately.
On 16 March the Resident Inspector called the District Civilian Personnel Director again, advising that the situation in the Spare Parts Division of Higgins had not improved. He related that the Superintendent of the Spare Parts Division had reported that shipments could be stepped up twenty to thirty percent if he had fifteen additional laborers. In view of these circumstances, it was clear that top management at Higgins Industries was not very much interested in the spare parts program, or at least failed to recognize the Importance of it at this time.
A representative of the District Civilian Personnel Director accompanied by the Resident Inspector of Navy Materials, and an officer from the District Public Information Office, called on the General Manager of Higgins Industries and advised him as to the urgency of the spare parts program, informing him that a publicity program was being designed in regard to the need for additional spare parts shipments as reflected in Admiral Nimitz's release of 15 March, together with comment on the local industries engaged in the spare parts program. It was pointed out that since Higgins Industries was the major shipper of spare parts in New Orleans area, that firm would receive a major portion of the publicity. It was further pointed out that before this matter was publicized, it was
considered advisable for the Company to review the conditions in its own Spare Parts Division to make certain that the Company was doing all that it could to meet the scheduled requirements. The General Manager called in his Spare Parts Superintendent, who explained the situation to him. The General Manager immediately became interested and agreed to meet with Navy officials at the Spare Parts Division on the next working day.
The District Civilian personnel Director was accompanied on this visit by a representative from the Resident Inspector of Navy Materials, a Public Information Officer, and a Navy photographer. Pictures were made showing the General Manager with his Spare Parts Superintendent and the Navy Inspector standing before stacks of spare parts awaiting shipment. The problems involved in increasing shipments were discussed by the General Manager, the Navy officials, the Superintendent, and the foreman involved. As a result of this conference, the impending publicity, and the interest demonstrated by the Navy officials, the Company agreed to establish new lines of workers to expedite packaging and shipping, to furnish the additional labor needed, and to provide a crane for expediting the loading and unloading of heavy boxes. A conference of the foreman was called immediately to put this new plan into effect, and no further difficulty was encountered with respect to the spare parts program at Higgins Industries.
During the most active period, a typical month's work for the officers of the Industrial Manpower Section of the District Civilian
Personnel Division included an average of:
- 275 official visit, and contacts with representatives of Federal agencies and Naval activities and suppliers.
- 15 plant visits and inspections.
- Submitting War Production Board Form 1067 for 50 plants.
- Attendance at 20 Production Urgency Committee and Manpower Priority Committee meetings.
The primary mission of the Labor Relations Officer was to anticipate and forestall the development or continuance of dissatisfaction among employees of Naval contractors in the district which might threaten the morale of these employees or otherwise impede or prevent production. Although Navy Department policy specifically forbade this office from engaging in mediation, conciliation, arbitration, or similar techniques (because of the existence of other qualified governmental agencies empowered by law to utilize such techniques), nevertheless his mission included the duty to see to it that all such techniques were used where appropriate and to offer suggestions and advice, when called upon, to these other agencies. In addition, the practical experience of the Labor Relations Officer caused him to be called upon to prevent the development of conditions that might cause strikes and other interruptions to production. Similarly, he was frequently called upon to participate actively in conferences and employee mass meetings to assist in securing the return to work of employees on strike.
During the first year of activity of this officer in the district, he was kept busy primarily with shipbuilding stabilization
problems involving hours, wages, and the like; subsequently, the handling of such problems was delegated to an officer acting directly under the Bureau of Ships (Gulf Coast Zone Shipbuilding Stabilization Officer), and the Labor Relations Officer thereafter devoted full time to the work outlined above. In addition to the usual type of labor relations problems in the District, there were several serious strikes, some involving important racial issues such as the strikes at Alabama Dry-Dock and Shipbuilding Company, Mobile, Alabama, in May 1943; Pennsylvania Ship Yard, Beaumont, Texas, 31 May 1945; Todd-Johnson DryDock, Inc., New Orleans, Louisiana, 17 July 1945. Other serious labor disturbances, in the settlement of which the Labor Relations Officer participated, were at Todd-Galveston DryDock and Shipbuilding Company, Galveston, Texas, 2 February 1945; American Cast Iron Pipe Company, Birmingham, Alabama, 25 May 1944; and Tennessee Coal and Iron Company, Birmingham, 4 April 1944.
The Vocational Training Officer of the District Civilian Personnel Division performed a dual function, ascertaining needs for training and training deficiencies in Naval activities and plants of Naval suppliers, and getting management to appreciate the value et a well-organized training program. He was concerned not only with training individual workers and groups for specific jobs, but also with the improvement of supervision and the development of proficiency in the passing on of skills. One of his functions was to coordinate the large number of Federal, State, and local training
agencies in the district so that they would best serve the interests of the Navy. He maintained close enough liaison with training authorities to be able to procure special services for particular plants and activities, and often brought about certain modifications of training facilities so that a tailor-made service for a particular need could be supplied. Once training facilities were introduced into a plant or activity, it was his responsibility to observe the work under way in order to assure that trainees, supervisors, and management fully understood the purpose of the training and that complete cooperation in the training process continued. Besides the Vocational Training Officer at District Headquarters, each of the five Naval activities employing over one thousand was serviced by Vocational Officers assigned the several commands. As contracts terminated and as procurement agencies ceased to reimburse for training, private companies tended to cancel training. Of more than twelve major Navy contractors having organized employee training programs at the height of war production, only five had full-time programs in June 1945.
The primary function of the Safety Officer, who reported for duty in September 1944, was to assist Naval activities in developing plans, policies, and techniques for the prevention of accidents. By July 1945, when the Safety Officer was detached, safety programs had been set up in practically every activity in the district. Out of seven continental districts on which statistics on accident frequency were available, this district had the second safest rate for the first four months of 1945.
1. Dist. Hq. Order No. 1-43, dtd. 6 Feb. 1943. 2. AstSecNav ltr. EN/A3-1(420110) SOSED-1A-HD-1/12, dtd. 19 Jan. 1942. 3. SecNav ltr. S0SED-2-HD-6/23, dtd. 1 Jul. 1943. 4. SecNav C.L. SECP-110-MIM, dtd. 6 Apr. 1944. 5. SecNav ltr. SO-9211019, dtd. 22 Sept. 1942. 6. SecNav ltr. SO-9211020, dtd. 22 Sept. 1942.
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