Guest post by Older and Wiser.
Older and Wiser is a rural carrier.
Click below to see all of Older and Wiser’s Guest Posts.
This is how I see it!
This blog is based on the report “Non-Career Employee Turnover” Report Number HR-AR-17-002 December 20, 2016 from the Office of the Inspector General of the USPS. Though the report covers all the crafts, I will consider the numbers I reference appropriate for rural carriers.
When I work for a company I respect management above me. I really do. I know they have a different agenda than I do, different responsibilities, and somebody else they are responsible to. I look to my bosses to make common sense decisions even if they are not a positive for me. I expect them to use their intelligence and vision to lead and provide plans that will shape the future for me and my fellow workers. It is when this doesn’t happen and management’s lack of business sense becomes apparent, I begin to seriously doubt the abilities of those above me. That is when I start to get just plain pissed off.
When I started my series “The Future of the Rural Carrier-Management’s View Parts 1 & 1a back in early 2014, the most important issue I presented was the retaining of RCAs. I detailed some reasons for the situation and suggested a number of solutions. Now the Inspector General of the USPS writes in the report,” Opportunities exist to reduce non-career employee turnover by addressing factors such as scheduling flexibility, physical demands of the job and supervisory relationships that contributed to non-career employee turnover.” Putting it in a kind way, the Postal Service has not done their due diligence in relation to RCA turnover. My 2014 blog mentioned pay, no benefits, job security, and a lack of steady hours as problems. I saw it coming three years ago. The average rural carrier could see it. Why couldn’t the USPS see it? That is what scares me and pisses me off.
Yet, they still don’t get the whole picture. My original blogs came after the old contract and the lower pay scale for RCAs. Lower pay and lack of benefits is still a factor but only 13% was listed in the 2016 report as a reason to leave. What the USPS misses is that a lower pay scale is not only a financial issue, but an emotional one also. When they lowered the pay, they also lowered the bar. It left a message that the position is not important and, likewise, the people are not important. This is what is measured in the report. “Didn’t like supervisor” was listed by 15% of the people. My opinion is that their supervisor did not treat the RCA in a way that we would all like to be treated. Why treat someone with respect when they are working in a part time job with no benefits? People are viewed to be expendable. This leads to an RCA not being sure of their future (Job Security 6% listed). Why waste my time to make sure an RCA gets the proper training (6% listed)? These are not teenagers looking to make spending money at McDonalds or Burger King. These are men and women who are trying to support themselves or even a family. Many are a little older and have life and work experience and know how a person should be oriented and trained. They know, but it is obvious that the Postal Service doesn’t know.
The USPS seems to think that an RCA position means giving up any chance of a balanced family life. You have to be a carrier to know what this next sentence means. How could “Too Many Hours” (10% listed) and “Not Enough Hours” (8% listed) appear on the same survey? There has been no concerted effort to get their hands around how to handle the staffing of RCAs. They leave it up to individual postmasters who themselves often have problems with managing and keeping people and using them wisely or unwisely (Scheduling 18% listed). Lack of advancement (7% listed), the time it takes to become a regular, has never been part of the USPSs agenda. It is management’s duty to lead and use their knowledge of their company’s resources to provide solutions. When they avoid problems, they are management in name only; they no longer deserve the respect of the workers they have under them.
I only have 1,000 words, so you can fill in the blanks on the remaining reasons (Physical nature of the job and don’t like their co-workers). As I said above, I realize that management’s agenda is not necessarily the same as their workers. Yet, maybe their agenda is too concerned with management programs and not enough with the workers’ concerns. Do they need the OIG to put out reports to show how the Postal Service is failing or should management have the vision and expertise to define problems and attend to them before someone else points it out. I would be very embarrassed if an office outside of my control has to be brought in to advise me on the way to run my organization. Why can’t the USPS see problems right under their nose? Is it a case of a lack of business acumen or just apathy? In either case, the answer is damning and it pisses me off.