The practice was for United Press (later United Press International) and the Wire Service Guild (a subdivision of the American Newspaper Guild [ANG]) to negotiate changes in wages and working conditions. When I started at UP in December 1942, wages were specified in minimums, increasing for each year of experience up to seven years. A reporter received an automatic raise at the end of each year of employment. Of course there was nothing to stop the company from raising pay beyond the minimum but I don't remember a surge in that direction. Overtime was time-and-a-half.
Not all employees were union members. We elected someone from our "unit" to serve on the bargaining committee, which included someone paid by the ANG as well as representatives from other units around the country. I was a unit representative—I believe in 1954—when the contract was reopened for wages only.
The company would be asked to raise the minimums and also to grant a "general" raise for the benefit of persons with more than seven years seniority. New minimums could kick in before an employee's year had run and his pay would increase at that time.
For many years the company did not have a pension plan. It was negotiated in 1959.
My weekly pay over the years looked like this (with a few omissions):
|December 1942||$30.00||January 1959||$157.00|
|December 1943||$35.00||January 1960||$161.50|
|December 1944||$42.50||January 1961||$174.65|
|December 1945||$47.50||January 1962||$177.50|
|January 1946||$62.50||January 1963||$180.25|
|December 1946||$62.50||January 1964||$184.25|
|January 1947||$77.50||January 1967||$211.25|
|December 1947||$87.50||January 1968||$223.75|
|December 1948||$100.00||January 1969||$258.25|
|March 1949||$110.00||January 1970||$271.25|
|December 1949||$110.00||January 1971||$291.25|
|February 1951||$115.00||January 1972||$303.66|
|January 1955||$136.00||January 1973||$321.66|
|January 1956||$139.00||January 1974||$336.66|
|January 1957||$141.50||January 1975||$368.66|
|January 1958||$155.50||January 1976||$402.90|
Print or broadcast reporters whom I knew during my Supreme Court days:
For my first 20 years, Banning E. (Bert) Whittington was Court Press Officer. He was succeeded by Barrett McGurn.
Early on, when I needed library resources, I turned to Helen Newman, the Court Librarian.
Of 41 press people, eight were women.
Early experience—in morgue clearing out old files and clipping daily papers for filing. Eventually wrote obituaries and night desk stories for news releases.
Beginners beat: FCC [Federal Communications Commission], ICC [Interstate Commerce Commission], and Post Office Department. Then Justice Department, Agriculture Department, House of Representatives, general assignment and some trials in district court.
U.S. Supreme Court from 1949 to 1978, with one year off on night desk, writing and editing copy.
When Earl Warren was Chief Justice, the court was deciding a variety of blockbuster cases that affected lots of people—civil rights, criminal law, free speech/free press, prayer in schools.
Besides stories about specific cases, the court reporter must write start-of-term roundups about what's ahead and end-of-term roundups about what was done; stories when a new justice comes on the bench, about how he votes, and the influence when a justice leaves.
UPI liked to have reporters produce features stories for Sunday papers and stories without a particular time element for a feature collection that was mailed to clients, I think once a week.
Sometimes I cast about for something non-legal—like new landscaping on the grounds of the building or Chief Justice Burger's project of educating tourists with pictures and memorabilia on the walls of the ground floor.
In 1961, Chief Justice Warren surprised everybody by announcing from the bench that the court's business day would start at 10 o'clock in the morning instead of noon. But the justices were going to stick to a half hour for lunch. I played around with that, telling where the justices ate and what. The Atlanta Journal ran the story under the heading "Justice At Lunch."
I was also covering the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the Court of Claims, and the Court of Military Appeals.
In the summer, there were conventions of the American Bar Association and meetings of the Uniform Law Commissioners. Also covered the Warren Commission's investigation of the Kennedy assassination and an organization called World Peace Through Law.
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