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From Serious to Silly, Workplace Issues Have Been Focus

December 15, 1987

In its 65 years of publication, Personnel Journal has reported on a wide variety of workplace issues, from the serious to the silly. Some samples follow:

- 1932--Harold F. Clark of Columbia University surveyed lifetime earnings for an array of occupations in 1930 and reported two years later that doctors and lawyers topped his list and could expect to make $117,000 in their lifetimes. Farmers, who were at the bottom of the list, could expect to reap $14,000 in the course of their lives.

In the middle of the spectrum came dentists, who could count on lifetime renumeration of $108,000; social workers, $57,000; journalists, $44,000; skilled laborers, $40,000; public school teachers, $30,000, and unskilled laborers, $20,000.

- 1943--Not surprisingly, "Girls in War Plants" concerned an increase in personnel problems that its author tied to the influx of women in defense plants and the moral letdown that accompanies wars.

He complained of loose-talking girls; increased spending in saloons, cabarets, public dance halls and gambling houses; a lack of feminine modesty; surreptitious love-making and a rash of open flirting.

- 1949--An article headlined "Cheap Labor!" told of a company that hired dogs to help security guards patrol company land, but fired them after a union protest. The report continued, "Consequently it was not surprising to read of the Auckland, New Zealand, firm which is being sued by the Electrical Workers Union on the charge of unfair labor practice for employing a ferret to pull 600 feet of wire through a conduit.

"The trick saved the firm the cost of several weeks' work by electricians," the article said. "The union charged the company with employing an unregistered worker, paying insufficient wages and for engaging an under-aged worker."

- 1973--Personnel Journal ran a story headlined "Young Executives: A Source of New Ethics?" that looked at whether the "youth cult" would bring a new brand of morality to the workplace. The authors decided that business managers could breath easy, because "they are not being invaded by a group of young, naive purists, who will threaten the ethics of the firm."

An accompanying editorial, however, said it all: "Business students do not represent an upcoming influx of new ethical standards."

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