Finally the superintendent, who in some mysterious way had managed to escape the entanglement of underground wires running from Terrence Mulvaney’s saloon, issued a direct, positive order to Foreman Lathrop, and Murphy’s place in that factory knew him no more. Nor was Murphy astonished or disappointed. He had been expecting this very thing to happen, and was prepared for it. So when he walked out, two skilful, but easily influenced companions, walked out with him. Thus Joe Lathrop had, added to one of his frequent early morning headaches, the serious trouble of trying to find three men to fill yawning vacancies. The company was faced with a new series of losses even greater than those which had followed the discharge of Robinson. Furthermore, there was trouble and disorganization among the men still remaining in the department. Every man there had liked and respected the competent young worker, Robinson. They all knew that he had been discharged largely because Joe Lathrop was jealous and somewhat afraid of him, and because Joe had had a bad headache and grouch. They resented the injustice. Their respect for their foreman dropped several degrees. Their interest in their work slackened. “What is the use,” they thought, “to do our best when superior workmanship might get us thrown out of here instead of promoted?”
And so Joe Lathrop’s series of “li’l’ drinks” finally resulted in decreasing the efficiency of his department to such an extent that the superintendent was obliged to discharge him. Then the superintendent was in for it. He had to find a new man. He had to take the time and the trouble to break the new man in, and the company had to share the losses resulting from disorganization until the new foreman was installed.
This is not a fanciful story, but was told to us by a man who knew the superintendent, Joe Lathrop, Robinson, Terrence Mulvaney, and Tim Murphy. Nor is it an unusual story. Just such headaches, discharges, troubles, and losses are occurring every day in the industrial and commercial institutions of this country.
This story illustrates not only the high cost of constant change in personnel, but also the high cost of leaving the important matter of hiring and firing to foremen. Where this is done, discharges without cause, the selection of incompetents, grafting on the payroll, inside and outside politics, the indolent retention on the payroll of those who are unfit, and many other abuses too numerous to mention, are bound to follow.