For letter carriers, new contract certain to show the strain of tough times


As early as this week, members of the National Association of Letter Carriers could get the terms of a new contract. Whatever a three-man arbitration panel decides, the outcome is sure to furnish fresh evidence of the painful tradeoffs facing labor as the embattled U.S. Postal Service presses to cut personnel costs.

NALC members “understand that difficult things were necessary,” Jim Sauber, the union’s chief of staff, said in an interview today. “But on the other hand, we also want to reward the people who are working harder and have harder jobs.”

The NALC, for example, is proposing to create a new class of lower-paid, non-career employees dubbed “city carrier assistants” that would replace an existing classification known as transitional employees.  Although those carrier assistants would earn less than today’s transitional employees, they would get first shot when it comes to applying for career letter carrier jobs, Sauber said.

Under the NALC’s proposal, “both sides kind of get what they wanted,” Sauber said. “Even though the pay is lower, we think it’s going to be a better result for the people who take these jobs.”  But in written testimony to the arbitration panel, union President Fredric Rolando underscored that the organization is only reluctantly pursuing this option. “We trust that the panel will appreciate that, but for the present crisis, the concept of a lower paid, non-career letter carrier workforce would be totally unacceptable to the NALC,” he said.

For the arbitration panel, Sauber said, the key issues are now how many non-career employees to allow and how much to pay them. The Postal Service, he said, wants more such employees with lower compensation than the union has proposed.  According to Rolando, the Postal Service also wants to freeze wages, eliminate cost-of-living increases and cut benefits for career employees. All three are “completely unacceptable” to the NALC, he said in his testimony posted on the union’s website.

A USPS spokesman, citing standard policy, declined to discuss labor negotiations.

But the NALC isn’t just up against postal leaders intent on more payroll reductions as the agency continues to hemorrhage red ink. The organization is also battling precedent set by previous contract decisions involving two other postal unions. In 2011, the American Postal Workers Union agreed to a two-tier wage system that pays new career employees less. Last July, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association had to swallow a similar arrangement under a new contract set by a separate arbitration board.

With about 180,000 employees in its bargaining unit, the NALC is among the largest of the four major postal unions. It has so far successfully fought the Postal Service’s efforts to eliminate most Saturday delivery, a move the agency estimates would save about $2.7 billion a year. But Sauber stressed the union’s work with management to slash the number of routes as mail volume has declined—a step that puts more work on remaining letter carriers.

“We feel like we’ve been a very responsible bargaining partner with the Postal Service,” he said. “We didn’t stick our head in the sand when the crisis hit.” The new contract will replace an agreement that formally expired in November 2011. Rolando’s testimony, incidentally, is noteworthy for the disappointment expressed with the Obama administration, which has endorsed five-day delivery.

The White House, he said, “is like a deer frozen in the headlights on postal issues.” Despite the union’s political support, Obama “has not been of any great help on our critical issues, and we have to own up to that.”


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  1. The NALC has been a major part of the problem, a continual stumbling block through the decades at bettering the service not only to the public but to a could-be viable and productive workforce.

  2. if the post office is doing so bad, i have been a letter carrier for just under 25 yrs ,why do the postmasters ALL still get bonuses o yea thats right because they all work so hard standing drinking coffee looking at DOS watching us, i think we could do the job just fine without all them, then look at the savings we would have

  3. APWU sold us down the river with this new contract. NALC don’t get conned by the union reasoning .they will lay off at will . the union does not have the means or money to stop the USPS.

  4. seriously, I cannot imagine ANYONE taking these new jobs. They are hard work and the pay is not justified. With a $25 hr or so at the top, there are easier jobs in other fields that pay similar. If I didnt have my 20 yrs in now I wouldnt be here, there would be no way I would hire in at the new pay rate and be responsible for parcels, certified mail, reg, etc. All carrier jobs are physically challanging and now the pay is just not worth it. It was good $$ 25 years ago. Just my .02.

  5. The 1st comment sounds like a paid right wing shill who could’nt last a month as a carrier or is one of Donahoe’s puppets at L” Enfant Plaza……..Carriers have kept the USPS alive in SPITE of BAD MANAGEMENT, an INCOMPETENT PMG and CONGRESS, and inaccurate, slipshod media.

  6. The NALC as good as it is has been, has killing the PO in protecting carriers that are ‘gaming the system’, you all know it too. Look at the awards inn your office, spread that around nationwide. I have only been here 26 years but come on, if ‘everyone’ really worked (not run) we could compete.

  7. How valuable are you? If you call off work, how many other people does it take to cover your job without calling anybody in?

    In my case as an NALC carrier, it takes roughly 6. One to case it and 5 doing and hr to an hr and a half to cover it on the street.

  8. Our small office of 80 routes, we have won 4 major awards for clerks converted to carriers. They were all larger then any of the 3 carrier supervisor salaries. So we can blame management all we went, at the end of the day we all have to look in the mirror.

  9. Pingback: Letter Carriers’ Contract Settlement to Be Announced Soon « The North Carolina Letter Carrier Activist

  10. We work for the government. They can take everything from us and there is nothing we could do about it. We sure won’t get any sympathy from the public since it is now in vogue to be anti -government.

  11. True, every craft/management group have their slugs. They’re here to stay. But rewarding bad management with perks and rewarding good carriers with more work is BS. Have not seen one union rep address this issue. 25 years as a carrier and I don’t want or need a heavier workload as I age. The Postal Service and the Union should be ashamed of themselves.

  12. I’m not skeptical that Skep knows what he is talking, I’m certain he does not. How can customer service numbers be the highest ever if carriers were blocking improvement? Steve’s comment is incoherent. “Awards in my office”? Try again. Jeff hits home: Considering all the downsizing of routes–52 career carriers 20 years ago to 28 today at my station–we still have three managers. A big cut there would never be noticed. Why isn’t that on the table? But the issue is whether Congress has the courage to create a new postal model that meets the public’s needs without compromising its egalitarian nature or degrading the workforce.

  13. Hangin' Tough on

    EAS, Mail Handlers, Postmasters, APWU all got early out offers…

    NALC, please negotiate one for your loyal members!

  14. Postmaster’s still getting bonuses, sure would like to know where you get your info. Management has not had any bonus or raise in 3 years. NALC could be a decent union if they would not protect the employees that get caught doing wrong, if carriers would do there job and quit worrying how much overtime they can milk every week. We have carriers in our office that get 1 to 2 ft of flats and 6 inches of letters 20 parcels and state they need overtime DOIS or no DOIS that’s a joke.

  15. I have been TE for almost five years now. This new contract is just unacceptable. TE’s work harder and more is expected from us than most full time carriers and this is what Rolando and the PO is allowing to happen to us. A cut in our pay and still an unknown time before having a chance to become a regular.

  16. Wow! You guys commenting so far took the bait, and drank the kool-aid! C’mon, let’s squabble, and point fingers at those who are not as good as us. A more peaceful solution, to those of you who want to drop their pants, would be to simply send me the amount you think you don’t deserve, every payday, via Fed EX Overnight. When I get that stupid stand up talk about how lucky we are to have our jobs, I remind them how lucky they are to have ME! I’ve gotten more awards than you guys have had hot dinners, and they don’t pay me nearly enough. Oh, just got a call from your self esteem. Said it’s been 25 years, give ’em a call and get together again.

  17. I retired as a district staff / Postmaster after 34 years (my first 4 in craft positions) and believe the future for a postal service lies in timely, reliable parcel service. I also agree with postal2000 that the same poor performing carriers and clerks, seeking to milk the system and actually leading to it’s demise. work for a living, and enjoy a living.

  18. Jeff
    so what if they stand around, when I was a boss at a previous job that’s what I did.Why is management talking about alternative sources of revenue and why does the union think I should make what the ups driver does,last I checked the po should’ve been looking for other revenue 7 or 8 yrs ago,also i don’t think ups is losing billions a year all management and the union are doing is rearranging the deck chairs on the titantic

  19. Letter Carrier on

    “We have carriers in our office that get 1 to 2 ft of flats and 6 inches of letters 20 parcels and state they need overtime DOIS or no DOIS that’s a joke.”

    That sounds like my route. What management doesn’t seem to understand is my volume was half that when they adjusted my route to 8 hours 10 minutes on a non-coverage day. So when I say I need OT, all they can say is “not according to DOIS!”

  20. All you people sniveling about other carriers milking the system need to stop worrying about other carriers. Because you’re the ones running whenever mgmt says to doesn’t mean the rest of us will. Grow a backbone and simply do the route in a safe manner, not a fast one.

  21. The NALC is fighting a just battle. Compared to FedEx and UPS carriers are payed less. A 2 tier system of pay is unjust and the APWU was first to propose it. Many Processing side employees are going over to instruct carriers how to deliver mail yet they never delivered mail, a very disfunctional system. The APWU was out for themselves and it will cost the rest of the Postal Service. The APWU received a 1% raise for being submissive in November 2012. Question : Where do the majority of Postal exec’s come from? Answer: Could it be the Processing craft (APWU)??? Mabe there is a reason they are paid better and it is not because they work harded and seem to be chronicly late with the mail for delivery!!! How come the DPS is such a problem? It must be the APWU employees not doing their job again, and the Postal Service will just blame the carriers. Don’t forget maintenance of the processing/delivery machines are APWU employees again. The NALC gets the shaft and the APWU gets the higher pay. The APWU did a nice job in being able to receive dues from their new at will employees called Postal Support Employees (PSEs) and create the 2 tier system of pay which was fought in the past and proved unjust for new starting employees. Question: Why do most clerks fight to resist being forced to be moved to carriers? Most claim they cannot physically do the job when we all have the same physical requirements. Thank the APWU for a lot of this negotiation mess. This view is brought to you by the eyes of a 27 plus years maintenance employee of the APWU. Good Luck NALC.

  22. I appreciate the hard work the NALC has done for us and fought for us. What makes me sick and mad is the point that you hear so many words saying cutting pay and benefits but you NEVER see the higher ups pay slashed or postmasters or supervisors and to be quite honest these are the people that are bankrupting the postal service and yet we still reward them with bonuses and pay increases!!!!!! Your carriers and clerks are what make the post office the POST OFFICE! Reward us not them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Anthony you sound like one of those carriers who snivels about management. There is waste on both sides, we all have act our ages, stop pointing the fingers and just do our jobs! Like it or not the letters are drying and we are competing even more with UPS.

  24. Bonuses are you kidding postmasters have not received any raise in 3 years and prior to that we did not get bonuses. We received pay for performance. Bad job no money. The NALC has long been nothing more than a bunch of whiners. No mail for past 5 years and they still want 10 hours a day. No wonder USPS is in financial turmoil.

  25. Postal Manger of 25 yrs on

    People, I have read all the comments, but there is so much mis information. Yes, it was ture, management did get bonuses. But that stopped years ago and the pay was frozen for the last 3 years. But that is not the problem. I carried mail for the first 9 years and was a chief steward at one time. I have worked for good managment and for some bad management. That is part why I decided to get into management; To make a difference. I have worked with good carriers just as the bad and I manage the same, good and bad. It will be part of any organization, period. The problem is that we are over regulated! No other company or organization has had to pre-fund anybodies retirement as the post office has. That has taken profits away from us. Throw in the price of gas. How many companies have raised the rates or prices? Even your groceries and cost of living has increased. But all we were permitted to do was raise the price of stamps 1 cent. And one cent. This is what ails us. Government regulations. Lastly I want to thank all who post. It shows that you care. Let’s as an organization improve on what we can do; scan! And take business away from UPS and FedEx. That is how we are going to grow. Let’s kick their brown trucks!

  26. Leadership begins at the top…When those MF’ers take a pay cut and agree to cut their benefits, then let’s talk…Until them, let’s just let Congress do what they do best….Nothing….

  27. Don’t get bonuses?! WOW! No the postmasters just get to keep their jobs while the CARRIERS get canned I’d call that a big bonus! or Carriers who are having to drive up to 1700 miles per week(including to work station) after the “super intelligent” POSTplan “geniuses” get through trying to figure out how to cut spending! At our post office that is exactly the situation! It will cost $ 24,500.00+ per month to close our postal facility or cut the hours and move us 45 miles away! Or if they would use their “PEA BRAINS” it would only cost Approximately $2,500.00 to keep it the same as it is now!

  28. You can always tell by these comments,who’s who.Management are the most overpaid useless people in the PO imo.Carriers and clerks are pushed daily to do more work,but how much more work does management do.We’ve lost about 10 routes in our office,but have gained a 3rd stupervisor.Any private company would come in here and clean house.And I don’t mean get rid of the WORKERS.Get a clue people.

  29. You get who you vote for boys and girls! How’s the Kool-Aid taste now. Vote with your wallet and get out of the NALC Union, then your dues won’t go to an administration that doesn’t support us. They were glad to take our campaign contributions before November. Time for a change at NALC HQ. We used to have a union with a pair. Fool me once…

  30. Not to worry we (letter carriers) received our new 5 additional Management Scan Points (MPS) today. All problems solved. Now management can track us daily. Oops, their random address selection will add about 10 minutes a week to my route. And one of my business customers refused to have a bar code mess up their nice new door. Oh well, try again.

  31. Its not Letter Carrier wages that are causing a financial problem it’s health care costs and poor management. Really who manages the finances? It not labor, we simply do the work and take instructions. Postal management is incompetent for the most part. At 1 point recently we had 3 managers and 5 supervisors for around 70 routes. That’s a ridiculous ratio and never mind the total annual salary of likely over $500,000.

  32. Scanning will “improve” the organization? Where in the contract does it list “computer programming” or “data entry” for a letter carrier’s job? That’s what SCANNING is!!! When the scanner malfuctions, carriers get a letter of warning! NOBODY IN MANAGEMENT HAS A 4-YEAR DEGREE IN THE COMPUTER FIELD TO DIAGNOSE, GATHER THE UNCOLLECTED DATA, AND FIX THE SOFTWARE GLITCHES. I’m shocked the NALC hasn’t taken this arguement up to the National Labor Relations Board. IT’S NOT IN THE CONTRACT! No letter carrier upon being hired has been sent to a college or university for a computer degree, neither has any member of management!

  33. I have been a T.E for over 6 yrs. I entered into this field with a false hope of security. Now, it’s even clearer to understand how all of the USPS under appreciates us for all we do. I’m mail handler, parcel thrower, organizer, over worked, my fellow TE’s and I know all the routes, not even Clerks or other regular carriers for over 20 yrs. know. You and all of you upper mngmt. Union representatives, clerks and even custodians don’t like us and critize the product of our efforts it saddens me, because I was thought that where there was hard work compensatioon and recognition will follow, it’s sad because this corporate ladder it’s run by intimidation and false hope of security. Now this! Unbelievable! Lets start at the top as someone mention prior, with Post Masters – to regional – and supervisors to closing supervisors in some cases (PTF’s). I met some unbelievable supervisors good and bad for the most part I understood that the system changes you to the worst for the good ones it does not change it’s core as a human but for the easy followers for the most parts pricks. Moving on to regular career carriers that are not able to do a park and loop if it doesn’t belong to them or they go on OT on their 4/12 hr route. Come on! You Mr. /Mrs. Do not care period. The clerks/mail handlers that do not put or lack of effort to finish/start their job and I don’t even know how to justify that. I do this job prior and after I come from the street from a complete route and 1 1/2 hr beef. I know it’s hard work, justification? NONE. custodians well. Enough to get by. Than there’s us TE’s for the most part we are good as in every craft we have our bad apples. But with certainty I will let you all know that we just want a chance for security. Not to be in doubt or worried if yes or no. we work hard harder than all of you. And it’s sad speaking only from my experience that it doesn’t matter because in reality out of all you no one cares. And it will continue to move on with or without me. So needless to say I understand you I don’t respect you. It’s not in my core to do the least to get by. I pride my self in my integrity as a human been as a man. So you want to move on with this go ahead. I probably be forced to stay. And perhaps I’ll learn how to be just like you.

  34. 29 years and counting on

    You management pinheads make me sick with your better than thou comments. You guys couldn’t put together a weekly carrier schedule to save your lives. You want to talk about carriers milking overtime yet the truth is that even though I’m a non-lister I’ve been forced to go back out on OT after finishing my route in 8 three times just this week. YOU and your inability to manage anything are the reason for the OT. You push our starting time back and then tell us we have to be off the street by 6. You only have two clerks to throw parcels for 50 routes each morning which leaves us carriers waiting for them to get done. The union is no better. All you are in our city is a collection of the worst carriers who’ve now found a way to either get out of work for the day or soak up some OT by becoming a union rep. The 80% of us with the integrity to go to work each day and give our customers the service they deserve are hamstrung each day by the 20% in management and union that go to work each day to either prove they’re the boss or see how little they can do for the day and still get paid.

  35. Maybe, just maybe, what is wrong with the Post Office is that we are the slowest form of communication, the most expensive form of communication and the least accurate form of communication.

  36. To some degree 29 years and counting is right. There are pin heads in management and also in craft. I have carried mail and now I am in management and have seen both sides of the coin. Some supervisors do not have a clue and all most carriers do is hide behind the union. When you finish your route and have to go back out that is due to some mismanagement and also carriers who milk the clock because when things were good years ago and the OT was there, then they lived off of the OT. There is not much OT anymore and yes employees as yourself who do a good job are treated worse than the bad employees.

  37. So you want TE’s to do the same work load for less money?! You’re outside your mind! If anything current TE’s should be grandfathered into their pay! New hires should start at the new rate and work their way up the pay scale. Sounds like you are sacrificing the BACKBONE of the USPS to keep your career employees who are less productive! But I am guess that is the “New American Way”. If it were not for TE’s most offices would not be able to operate. Nothing like robbing Peter to pay Paul! Yes jobs are hard to come by, but why should people who have worked for years be punished by saying “hey thank you for busting your ass and putting all the wear in tear on your body, but we are going to pay you $6 less an hour now and we want you to do the dame amount of work if not more.” I’d like to give a shout out to Obama for backing OUR UNION! What a JOKE!

  38. Unbelievable!! Im am a TE and have been since 2007 (when they first came back)
    I understand that there was never a “promise” of a career position, but i didnt really worry about it because i figured everything will come full circle.

    Well it did, and for the worse.
    So i was making 22.15 an hour.. PTF’s make around 24-27 (depending on years in) Now the new contract lets PTF’s who were hired BEFORE the new contract, KEEP their current wages.. but it WIPES the TE’s.

    So we get bumped from 22.15$ to a starting wage of 15$ (but they will start a TE hired before January 10th, 2013 at 16.25$)
    What the hell is that??
    So these past 5 years i’ve been busting my ass to try and prove my worth and dedication, and my reward is a 6 dollar PAYCUT???
    They off-set this PAYCUT with a false sense of security when the mention CCA’s now can advance to REGULARS.

    Wow, big deal.. TE’s were gonna do that anyways.
    So basically we got a PAYCUT, and it will take 7+ years to get back to where it was, with NO real gaurantee of ever making regular.

    This is horrid.

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