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Why letter carriers can’t expect a retirement incentive anytime soon

We’ve pointed out before that the idea that the US Postal Service is grossly overstaffed and needs to immediately get rid of thousands of idle employees is largely a myth. To be sure, the drop in mail volume has reduced workloads, but the lack of hiring and continued attrition have also driven overtime usage up in many areas.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the letter carrier craft. We’ve previously noted the rising carrier overtime rate- 13.1% in January. Now comes further evidence that the USPS has too few carriers- the Southwest Area employee newsletter carries a front page ad urging clerks and mailhandlers to consider becoming carriers. The ad is similar to one the USPS ran in its online employee newsletter in January.

The simple fact is that the USPS doesn’t have enough letter carriers to deliver the mail, and the numbers continue to shrink, even without any incentives. What that means for the remaining carriers is that there’s just about zero chance of them being offered an incentive to retire any time soon.

There are two things that could change that- the first, and most obvious, would be Congressional action to eliminate Saturday delivery. The PMG has in the past said that eliminating Saturdays would allow him to get rid of thousands of letter carriers. (Whether there would be an incentive for those carriers to leave is open to question though- Darrell Issa’s proposed “reform” bill would allow the USPS to simply terminate any employees eligible for even a minimal retirement, and forbid any incentive payments.)

The other possibility is an arbitrator’s decision in the NALC contract dispute that allows for lower wages, benefits and job security for newly hired carriers. That might tip the balance sufficiently for the USPS to consider offering buyouts for carriers even if it meant replacing them.

  • leftfordead

    yes but,

    1: i’ve seen proposals where only the mail would be on 5 day delivery. parcels and express mail would continue with 6/7 day delivery.

    2: streaming is predicted to send mailed dvds to the proverbial dustbin.

  • Rich

    Confused by the article, at least in my installation and district. Just in my office of 60 carriers there are only on a good day about 6 clerks to get the mail prepared for yes 60 carriers. Carriers are waiting for mail at least one hour a day sometimes up to 3 hours a day. Again this is just one office. And of course this creates the overtime in the afternoon. In our installation alone and only counting wait time we have figured the postal service is losing around $12,000 a day, between 4 to 5 million a year just in this one installation. This is not including the overtime wasted in the afternoon because of the wait time in the office. As we see it, we have plenty of carriers just not enough clerks. Our District Manager told us in a town hall meeting that they have been to many offices in the district and have witnessed the incredible amount of wait time by the carriers but really don’t know what to do about it. We said hire some clerks. The district Manager stated that it wasn’t that easy that they just could not hire a bunch of clerks. This folks is why we are going down the tubes and why carriers will never get an early out or incentive. This is only one office in one district. We have heard this going on everywhere.

  • Rush

    This is getting ridiculous!! The USPS as a whole wastes so much money each day it’s not funny. The amount of overtime each day keeps growing. If we want to survive we have few options. As carriers, instead of wanting to eliminate Saturday delivery, we should eliminate the climbing of stairs. Over 90% of carrier injuries occur on stairs. If ALL customers had their mailboxes at ground level the only time a carrier would climb stairs is for accountables & parcels. This would cut street times by about 30%. Thus, eliminating more routes and saving overtime. Plus, no steps would also save wear & tear on the carrier. Yes, you would be walking more but under considerable less stress. I do not mean curbline for every house. This is not possible in some cities. I have more but I think most of you will get the idea. Thanks.

  • Ralf

    First Issa’s Forced Out could never happen. To Target older workers is mentioned just a few times in age discrimination laws~
    Second, I am quite happy making $43. dollars overtime as a carrier. And $53. penalty time mostly in the winter.
    The new Roth will come out in April, and I will load that up for the next 5-10 years. If they eliminate the supplement, oh well..I planned on working til 62-66 anyway.

  • bad dude

    Rich your article hit the nail on the head. In our post-office we have the same problem that u stated in regard to to few clerks to get the work done on a timely manor so the carriers can hit the street sooner. The deal in our office is that in 6 months because of upcoming automation we will need fewer clerks and as u know 6-months turns into a year and the year turns into years etc. THE ABOVE statement has been going on for years and in the old days we use to do ubbm on daily bases those finding mis-placed mail(out-going and 2nd class) and getting it into the system by the next day now we have about a 4 month back-log of about 4 months it will be done if and when we have a catch -up day(that is some of it will be done)See in our office we spend O.T. ON THE CARRIER SIDE LIKE CRAZY but on the clerk we just let the work pile-up and the sad thing about ubbm it only takes about 1 hour a day to keep it caught up-

  • Scout

    Yes not enough clerks have been going on in the central and south jersey area for a couple of years.When the APWU let management turn PTF’s into NT employees things got even worse.They cut hours and still want the work done in the same time.If a clerk retires they do not rehire.Staffing at the windows are down to one in most offices,busy or not.I know carriers and clerks don’t always see eye to eye but clerks have been under a lot of stress the past couple of years and now management is making the carriers work life just as stressful.We the clerks work like slaves to get the mail to the carriers and then you have to stay out late because not enough clerks to do the job.We are all in the same stinking sinking ship.

  • mcgoo

    We had 4 clerks in our office. Two retired. For those not good at math,this leaves two clerks to do the work of four. Although district was told of the situation, a function 4 team was sent by district. Two clerks were watched closely so the DM could see why the mail was being processed at a slower rate. No folks, the DM was NOT fired for stupidity.

  • fUD

    100% correct. Retiring or resigning clerks are not replaced. Their work is simply piece-mealed out to those remaining. Window clerks removed from their window spots to sort mail. Thus longer waits in line for “The Shopper.” Yet the pstmaster and the plant manager wander around hand in hand looking for a way to cut ‘function ?’ hours. Even if it means that some clerks or mail handlers willl have NOTHING to do.

  • cb

    You want to stop overtime. Bring the clerks in after the carriers leave for the street. Carriers get back in plenty of time to case for the next day delivery. Next morning pull down and go to the street. The mail is delayed the 1st day and then on time every day after. No more waiting for mail.

  • twinkster@westmarket

    Are they really this clueless. In my station clerks do all their work, before they touch the d.p.s. This in it self generates overtime for the carriers every day. You would think that they would want the d.p.s. mail staged first so that when the carriers are finished pulling down they can leave for the street, instead of downtime in the office waiting for the few little clerks to get finished doing all that they have to do. Management can’t see this? What a bunch of clowns!!! Or maybe they can see it and it is their motivation to help go private. Don’t they realize that they will lose their jobs also?

  • stopsenatebill1789

    Go to link below to sign the petition to stop senate bill 1789!
    http://www.ipetitions.com/petitions/stop-senate-bill-1789/.

  • Bill Witte

    Why do career carriers with 30 years , only get 56% of pay, when the bums who received disability get 70%,, if you want carriers to retire, give them the 70% for working 30yrs, and eward them FOR WORKING!!!!!!!!!!

    • shannon

      They disabled carriers are supposed to come back after being rehabilitated and are still on the payroll. They are not retired.