Brief history of the rural craft

The following brief history recap is from Mort on delphi, he has combined his memory of things, along with facts from “A Centennial Portrait” by Lester F. Miller

Very interesting read for those of us that were not around back in the 1970s… Thanks Mort..

Here is some history for you youngsters. I was hired before you Leland, (July 1977). Prior to 1969 rural carriers and PM’s were appointed to their positions by the political party that controlled the executive office (US Presidency). Prospective candidates were selected from the top 3 candidates of the elegibility roster, but a political recommendation was required. President Nixon changed that. Then all rural carrier vacancies would be filled by career employees from other crafts! This completely denied subs the ability to bid on any rural positions.

On Feb. 9, 1970 PMG Blount authorized the extension of rural routes to families outside of 1/4 mile from the Post Office. Previously it was 1/2 mile. This added 4 million delivery points to rural carriers in towns that had no city delivery!

In late July of 1971 all 7 PO unions negotiated together and in that negotiation, for the first time, substitute rural carriers were given the oppurtunity to apply for a fulltime rural vacancy within thier office provided that no career employee in that office bid on it (meaning no clerk, city carrier or supervisor/PM). Also that year the NRLCA stopped the USPS from consolidating non vacant rural routes until those routes were under 26 hours, but this was only guaranteed for that current contract. Previous to that rural carriers could and were having their routes consolidated and they could be forced to move up to 100 miles for another route.

In the 1973 contract agreement the NRLCA gained the following for subs. Substitute rural carriers gained bidding rights to vacant rural routes over part-time career employees not in the rural craft.

In ’73 or ’74 PMG Klassen changed the criteria for rural delivery extension for one family to 1 mile, previously it was .67. This had the potential to add 100,000 more rural deliveries.

In late fall of 1974 the Postal Service advised the National Board that our pay system was in violation of the FLSA. The rural carrier pay system had a basic compensation based on mileage and was supplemented by the “Heavy Duty Agreement”.

In the 1975 agreement subs were given first priority to bid rural route vacancies. The other crafts objected and filed a Step 4 against this and when they lost it went to Arbitration. The Arbitrator (Howard B. Garnser) denied the grievance and subs finally got the right to bid.

Continuing on from 1975…..

The NRLCA leaders were searching for an answer that would not require rural carriers to go hourly. The AFL-CIO offered the President of the NRLCA Lester Miller to meet with one of their labor consultants that had been employed by the Congressional committee that developed the FLSA initially. That is how the FLSA sec7(b)2 was used to base the new rural pay procedures. It took 30 days meeting with the USPS cheif negotiator to get the USPS to accept it. BTW that negotiator was later to become PMG (William Henderson) over 20 years later.This agreement took about 90 days to be totally finalized. That date was March 17th 1976. It then went to the Dept. of Labor. On Sept. 29th 1976 the agreement was finally signed.

In 1977 the Postal Service Commision recommended to the US Congress and the President that the USPS change from 6 day service to 5 day service. It failed to be accepted but it is now once again being tossed around. At that time the Congress passed a bill that included a provision that prohibitted the USPS to scale back to 5 day delivery.

The 1978 Agreement continued to retain the Rural Carrier Schedule, but the new Special route catagory which changed the method of pay to evaluated pay was introduced under the following circumstances. Routes under 35 hours as of July 21, 1978 would be converted to Special Route status exactly 3 years later. A carrier one any of those routes could bid off onto any vacant route within a 100 mile radius. Any carrier that failed to bid out in those 3 years was then guaranteed to a saved salary for the following 2 years. Any route that became vacant was then posted as an evaluated route.

Continuing from 1978 onward.

This is the contract that started the pay separation between the crafts. The NRLCA did not like the aspect of a capped COLA that the USPS had in its economic package.The NRLCA board believed that the other unions would “fold” concerning the capped COLA issue. So the NRLCA Ratification team accepted it based on the endorsement from the National Board. In the meantime the other unions failed to convince their members to ratify it and they went to arbitration. The arbitrator reduced some of their economic package but uncapped the COLA. The National Board did not think this was too important at the time . The CPI had not changed at all for 3 straight years. The USPS claims that the NRLCA was offered the exact same package as the other unions but the NRLCA leaders said that was not true. The result of this caused the rural carrier pay to end up $1,955 less than a step 5 employee in the other crafts. And with each subsequent contract the rurals have failed to catch up and have actually fallen further behind.

Now there are many more things that happened and many ways to interpret what did happen. There are many factual points of history in the preceding and some of it may have been written from a biased position because the writer of the book was on the National Board for 10 years with the years 1975-1976 as the President. I am the one that said the sentence above in red. I tried to keep my opinions to a minimum and just keep things in an historical prospective.