USPS, rural carriers reach tentative contract agreement

The Postal Service and the union representing rural letter carriers have reached a tentative contract agreement. The full text of the agreement can be downloaded here (.pdf file).

Here are some of the highlights:

Wage increases

The tentative contract provides the general wage increases for each year of the Agreement:

1.2% in 2015 (upon ratification, retroactive to November 14, 2015, 1.3% in 2016, and 1.3% in 2017.

The increases above do not reflect additional COLA adjustments for regular, PTF, and RCA/RCR employees on the rolls prior to August 11, 2012.


Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) and method of determination will remain the same. The “Base Index” date for the purpose of calculating future COLA adjustments was updated from July 2011 to July 2014. July 2014 represents the date of the last COLA adjustment under the 2010-2015 Agreement.

For RCA/RCR employees on rolls prior to August 11, 2012, an amount equal to the COLA paid to full-time rural carriers on an hourly basis under the 2015 Agreement will be rolled into
RCA/RCR hourly rates during the first full pay period of August 2018.

Assistant Rural Carriers

In light of the expansion of Sunday/holiday parcel delivery service, the parties have agreed to establish a new, non-career leave replacement employee classification: assistant rural carrier (ARC). ARCs may only perform Saturday, Sunday, and holiday duties and will be paid on an hourly basis at the same rate as RCAs hired on or after August 11, 2012.

ARCs will be bargaining unit employees with limited contractual benefits. Articles 15 and 16 will apply, but ARCs will not have access to noncareer employee health benefits, earned leave, or bidding rights.

Article 9.2.M.1 (actual hours, first five pay periods) and Article 9.2.M.3 (actual hours, if not served route within past 12 months) will not apply to ARCs.

ARCs are not required to take a hiring exam, but all other hiring requirements will apply. Their probationary period will be the earlier of 90 days worked or one year. They must apply for any desired RCA positions and may not automatically convert to an RCA vacancy. ARCs may be required to provide a vehicle for delivery and will receive EMA accordingly.

ARCs will be entitled to Sunday and Holiday parcel delivery prior to RCAs. They may also case and carry routes on Saturday only after all available RCAs have been assigned and prior to working a regular rural carrier on the relief day. The ARC will not be designated as the primary leave replacement on any regular routes and will not be included in any criteria for implementation or calculation of the formula.

Mail counts

In accordance with the 2010-2015 Agreement, the parties will conduct a twelve-day mail count beginning on March 12, 2016.

There is no mail count scheduled for 2017.

In 2018, the parties will conduct an opt-out mail count beginning on February 24, unless an alternate method for evaluating routes is implemented or the parties (at the national level) agree not to conduct the count.

If the mail count occurs, all routes will be counted except when the regular carrier or RCA (Des. 79) agrees with management not to count the route.

This represents the first time that RCAs (Designation 79) serving auxiliary routes have been given the opportunity to opt-in (or opt-out) of having their assigned route counted.

Equipment Maintenance Allowance

Effective with the quarterly adjustment based on the November 2016 CPI-W, the equipment maintenance allowance base rate shall increase by one-half cent (0.5¢) to fortyseven and one-half cents (47.5¢) per mile or major fraction of a mile scheduled per day or $19.00, whichever is greater.

Effective with the quarterly adjustment based on the November 2017 CPI-W, the equipment maintenance allowance base rate shall increase by one-half cent (0.5¢) to fortyeight cents (48.0¢) per mile or major fraction of a mile scheduled per day or $19.20, whichever is greater.


The agreement requires the Postal Service to ensure that seniority is properly applied to rural carriers. Following the effective date of this agreement, the Postal Service, for the first time, will be required to post a current seniority list in every office and furnish a copy to the Union.

The Postal Service will then be required to update seniority lists as changes occur, post the updated list in every office, and provide copies to the Union.