Let’s talk about the Elephant in the room

Elephant in the room” is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss.[2] It is based on the idea that an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook; thus, people in the room who pretend the elephant is not there have chosen to avoid dealing with the looming big issue.

Rural carriers just came out of another Christmas Overtime period.  That is basically the only time of year where a rural carrier would be eligible for overtime pay.  One might think that since it is Christmas, and there are a lot more packages, that some overtime might be expected.

Sounds right to me, but it does not actually work that way.  Rural carriers basically spend almost a month every year being rushed and pressured to avoid getting overtime.  All of this, while at the same time the USPS brags about this holiday season being the “Best Holiday Season Ever“. They recently reported on the “News Link”  page that packages services volume increased by 244 million pieces in 2012 compared to 2011.


Scan through the rural carrier message boards and the majority of posts about Christmas are from rural carriers who are being rushed and pressured to finish under their evaluation even with the added Christmas volume.  As the Rural Christmas Overtime period approaches the USPS goes into overdrive with telecons, emails, and stand up talks. The hours are tracked online and any overtime or aux help has to be  “justified” and then “approved” by someone higher up the pay scale.  By the time it is over rural carriers are walking wounded bundles of stress.  It takes the spirit out of our holidays and our families end up suffering for it.

Imagine my disgust when I came across this article on Postalmag.com  about City Carrier overtime at the USPS. Just this small paragraph is enough to make a rural carrier’s blood boil after what we just went through.

And overtime seems to be through the roof. On this Monday in question, one of the carriers who was working on their off day worked 16 hours! That’s about $600 for one carrier on one day. That’s lawyer pay. And most all the carriers at my post office seem to be working 10-12 hours 6 days a week.

Of course it is not the fault of the carriers.  They are out there trying to get the mail out just like rural carriers are, but it seems the USPS looks at their overtime in a whole different light as they do rural overtime.  City carriers can get overtime all year-long.  Rural carriers only have 1 month per year they are eligible for overtime, yet one hour of overtime for a rural carrier during the Christmas Overtime period can throw a manager into cardiac arrest!  What is wrong with this picture?

The pencil pushers at the USPS must not be keeping their pencils sharp enough because they are more worried about the mouse in the room than they are the elephant!

And also from Postalmag.com, lets look at this article from August 2012:

According to the National Payroll Hours Summary Report Pay Period 18 – FY 2012 (August 11 – August 24, 2012), the USPS used 187,678 hours of Penalty Overtime at a cost of $9,903,460 for the two-week pay period. The average hourly rate for this overtime was $52.77. This brings the year-to-date Penalty Overtime usage to 3,126,746 hours, costing the USPS $164,457,454 at an average hourly rate of $52.60.

Letter carriers were the benefactors of a majority of the Penalty Overtime, working 130,437 hours for the two-week pay period and a total of 1,995,527 hours so far this year.

I wish someone could explain it to me because I can’t seem to get it to sink in.  It seems that our small window of overtime eligibility is a drop in the bucket compared to the overtime in the other USPS crafts. I could understand it if they were doing it to save money but that can’t be what it is about or we would not have city carriers making lawyer pay.

Hello!  L’Enfant plaza We have a problem!

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I personally don’t think the NALC is any help at all. They side with management just like every union these days.. And….For that matter We all are pressed for time. in one way or another we are all getting screwed! CCA”s are paying union dues????FOR What??? they tell us up front they can’t represent us until after our 90-120 days! Really???? The NALC acts like they don’t know what is going on in these sweat shops, but they do! and they don’t CARE!! Management puts unrealistic times on New CCA’s and create a dangerous scenario, with the vehicle or the… Read more »

What about the days in summer when a rural carrier goes home at noon? Should they have to pay that back, or get a cut in pay? I understand the stress of Christmas, but when a carrier gets 8 hours of pay daily for 4 months worth of half days… not sure I understand why a rural carrier doesn’t compare those days with the longer days during winter, and suck it up like the rest of us do who are monitored year round. Personally, I would love to pay overtime for Christmas, and give lots of parcel help, and any… Read more »

what post offices do you work at. Rural carriers with easy routes or a low volume of mail and packages get back early but there are many rural routes that take 9 or 10 hours most days and we’re only getting paid for 8. It is ignorant of you to say rurals are lazy, that is opposite of what I have seen at my post office

I was a letter carrier, and a supervisor. I rode with rural carriers. They do good work. However, the rural I rode with had a real estate business on the side. He was done EVERY DAY, except for around Christmas, at no later than 2pm.

Lot of jealousy and hate going on in this old thread. I see pluses and minuses to each craft. I don’t know much about city carriers being that I am rural in a 2 route office. I only wish the post office treated all employees fairly. I have been an aux route for 16 years, 6 days a week 39 eval hours per week and I am not considered career or full time? No health or life insurance, no option to join a 401k or no paid holidays. I’m not sure how many employees in either craft would put up… Read more »

Don’t you have a Union and don’t they make any attempt to stand up to management?

With those few exceptions that we craft workers have seen…USPS management tends to be inept and in general does more harm than good. The majority of craft workers: rural carriers, city carriers, mail handlers bust ass and earn every penny they are paid. As a long-term city carrier I personally would welcome the two carrier unions joining forces. There is strength in numbers…As an example, perhaps the carriers could unite and obtain the same hourly pay and get universal start times in the neighborhood of 0630. Equal pay and we all get off mid-afternoon. Bickering among the crafts is great… Read more »

yikes! I was thinking of going full time…

just because postal management is allowed to steal our money during xmas, is not a reason to junk a system that works very well for a majority of rural carriers. It is reason to look at the union and say WTF!? It is a reason to negotiate fairness, but personally I enjoy salary over hourly because most of the year, i beat my evaluation times, even WITH the changes in the formulas. What we need is a Union that has some teeth and actually hires lawyers that can fix these problems, instead of a Union that every single time comes… Read more »

No Kathy. Rural carrier were never part of the NALC. It is true that city carriers USED to be able to bid on rural routes over rural subs, but that changed back in the mid 70s. I know, I was working at that time. The route I was a sub on at the time, was awarded to the last city carrier to go rural in our office. I subbed for him for a few years, while also working an aux route, before making regular in 1980.

I am not here to bash my City Carrier friends. I work in a huge office, with about 140 city routes and 23 rural routes. On any day, there are at least 20-25 open city routes. That is when the day is started. If someone calls off sick, it adds to that list. That is the way the POOM wants it. He calls the shots in my office, not the Postmaster. Because of the number of open routes, the city carriers have to do pivots on those open routes, then deliver their routes. It makes for lots of overtime, not… Read more »

You city carriers would do well to being counted like the rural carriers do.You would'nt have to waste time, but then the O.T. Would go away. You still come out ahead by the evaluated system.I have been around too long not to know what I am talking about.By the way,… You got to know how to work the system. Peace out

I don't know where you work, but in my small town two route office I run year long to make it back by dispatch. Unlike City carriers who have their gas provided to them I have to buy my own. I am only reimbursed from mail box to mail box, but I am increasingly having to drive several miles extra a day up and down driveways with parcels that I don't see a dime for.

All I got extra at Christmas was an extra hard time about time.

its only another chance for the po to cut you even more.thats why they have the mail counts. TO KEEP ON CUTTING.must be management needs another raise.

I've really vented a lot today but it's because I care. I'm working on a program for our district to fully use the subswe have, the eager ones who want to work. TRC or RCA, even PTF , to improve retention and reduce Rural Academy classes that need to be conducted. It seems to be well-received by management and hopefully will catch on so subs get hours and Regulars can enjoy vacation time without much notice needed (a rural perk.) New standards are a ways away, so let us prepare fo our upcoming MAIL COUNT. Helping eachother, and yes, even… Read more »

My sub used to be back fast. She bragged of it. Put me to shame. I smiled and dealt with it. Management asked me why she was faster. I don't know, I said. She's half my age? Boss left me alone. Sub soon quit. Never admitted the truth. It's a hard job. She drove unsafe. Customers told me. She didn't do forwardsor any paperwork. But she lasted a couple years. Few days a week. I'm still here. 6 days a week when needed, which is often. For years now. Even that manager has moved on. So don't worry about my… Read more »

I wonder if the FEDEX clerk is jealous of the Fedex driver. I wonder if the UPS driver is jealous of the guy who loads the trucks. I LIKE MY JOB. I'm Rural. I can always quit. But no one would pay me this salary fo this skill. Putting paper in a metal box. The real skill is dealing with the pressure, co workers, contract. And jealousy.

At least you are thinking of a solution. But remember which came first. Abuse from companies created unions. Now unions are abusing our company. We all need towork together to save our Postal Service. There are plenty of POSTAL EMPLOYEES willing to listen on ways we can help. There are people in every craft broken hearted, actually emotional, watching fellow employees abuse overtime.


In my 23 years I've heard many in management say they wish they were Rural. WAKE UP! That is old news. Party is over. And realize, former rural postmster, that rurals rarely go into management. So we are forced to be ruled by jealous, uninformed Postmsters. Who seem to b living in th past. If you have time to write here, you have time to work on a solution. Or must we suffer your sarcasm, probably typed on office computer on company time?

The NALC is stronger. But I'm Happier. Without them.

You need to get out more. City guys in my office walk up to us, see ourfull LLVs and say I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU GUYS DO IT. With an occasional YOU ARE GETTIN SCREWED. City route gets half the volume we do, mounted, CBU or walking, they can't fill a hamper! Our routes get 2 hampers of just parcls! That is also why they PUSH their hamper to the LLV, we move ours to the 3-5 hampers we load! You also may never know a city full day. Offer just once to payhim a full day no matter how… Read more »

Dear Paul Harvey I put you in the jealous pile. Yes we are evaluated. Mail count has our longest days because it's like bein audited, very time consuming. Even finding the person who times our loadin takes a while. Not you, I'm sure, woprobaly stand by the LLVs to ensure carriers are not slowed down by wait time. As for my route, 10 and 11 hour days started with ELECTION MAIL. I was not paid more. I servd my route and customers, in th dark. As best I could. Some help was provided all our rural routes during this time.… Read more »

Dear Lou, You are one of many who are jealous of our Evaluated system. I don't blame you. However, the fun is over for us Rurals, as it should be. Maybe there are still ones going home at noon. But with FSS, new standards and BAD counters during mail count, I'm not seeing it. The games need to stop by rurals slowing down during xmas overtime. Games during count by getting double counted bundles, but nothing compares to the lifestyle of games played by City carriers and cerks. So like a cop catches a speeder when everyone is speeding, we… Read more »

At first glance I thought your idea was way off. We should all be eval or all be hourly. Only Aux carriers get this choice right?

But I have delivered and cased in every style. Everything you mentioned above. I guess it could be a solution. But FSS, dirt roads, etc should have values that are factored in, for a good eval. I'dr ather not be hourly. I REALLY ENJOY not being watched every second.

I don't wanna be managed like the city carriers. I think they should be like us, but that's another matter. Every job I've ever had has been hourly. Not until I became Rural did I finally and enjoy my job. Our friends and family all have hourly jobs right? Why is that special? If you thought managemnt was ON US during Christmas, try working hourly every day like that. Ever see clerks go slow on purpose? Ever see city carriers hide? Those crafts want to be like us!!! We had it good once. The pendulum will swing back to a… Read more »

We all know that WORKING OFF THE CLOCK caused this false reading, changing our standards. Ever case a covereage on a saturday to get ready for monday? Now our mondays are impossibe. It is our fault for "giving" our time to our company. Now we suffer for it. So we learned. Every mail count is another chance. Ours is coming up.

cant wait till new time standards are made. come on- 2 min for a clearance slip but only 30 seconds for a parcel big or small. hopefully this new study will make a big change in our pay I agree with the evaluated system, just not the time standards I am a dps ffs llv route. 20 rts in office all rural only 3 take mail to street why would you case dps letters into a case with very little flats then strap it all down again( oh I know we have to wait for mail) (we cant get out… Read more »

So much needs to be fixed. But when will they start?

You may need to GO ABOVE YOUR STEWARD. It should not be this hard to get paid or file. I supect something else is going on. Start calling around for help on this. Attend a meeting. I, too, realize there is little time to file, or think, or breathe with the new standrds.

The time constraints are put on Rural Carriers because every time we go into contract negotiations, the powers that be want to show that we keep carrying the "ever-decreasing" (so they say) mail volumes below the subjected evaluated hours that we are currently being paid. They (the USPS) want to then add more volume to our time standards, as they did this contract. It is becoming more and more difficult to carry the "average" day within the evaluated time. But, management keeps an ever watchful eye to hammer and hammer the carrier to carry their routes below their evaluated time.… Read more »

Not in my DNA. Ever have someone take advantage of you? It's wrong on all levels of human interaction. why should PO go without scathing rebuttal based on hopes that all will simply blindly follow. If I am in battle, you are the last one I would trust. If you are not ready to fight for yourself, then who will?

During count the procedures, paperwork, and other extraneous activity accounts for the lengthier times rural carriers are posting. You seem to be suggesting that rural carriers are trying to pose for the camera during this time. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I've only been a city carrier for 17 years, but weren't the rural carriers part of the NALC at one time and didn't they decide they didn't want to be associated with us any longer because when routes went up for bid city carriers could bid on rural route based on senority. I may be wrong because this was before the start of my career. Maybe it was some other reason, but it's doesn't matter why they changed they had hourly and overtime but decided the grass was greener with their own contract. Same with the clerks they were part… Read more »

Hi, rural carrier here. We don't get to curb mail because it doesn't matter how long it takes us to deliver a route. We could be evaluated at 6 hours and it takes us 8, but we still get paid for 6. Why would management want to let us curb mail so we can actually make it in on time? And, yes, sometimes we get in early, but there are many times we come in way after our evaluation and get paid no more for it. I don't understand why city and rural carriers are against each other, we both… Read more »

Lawyers get paid more than $600 per day. My landlady is a lawyer and she makes $250 per HOUR!

The top rate is 56,507. At least take the time to look up the rates.

Maybe I can get some people here to understand how the rural craft works: Compare us to a mechanic working on your car. When you take your car to a shop for a specific job, let's say transmission work, the mechanic will give you an estimate based on what his book hours say the the job should cost, let's say six hours for the job required. If he fixes the transmission in four hours, he still is allowed to charge the six hour book rate. If it takes him two weeks, unless extra parts are needed, he still charges you… Read more »

Way to go Gail!!!!

Shall we talk about how we rural carriers hit the street only to find City carriers hiding behing buildings reading other peples n

ewspapers and magazines….riding the clock. We have evaluation so we can bust our butts to get the job done and go home.

I have to say that I have the highest respect for city carriers (I am a rural carrier) A walking carrier lugging a satchel all day long in all kinds of weather working out of who knows how many bundles of mail is a feat in itself. What I am after is a switch to hourly pay or an option for it on the rural side. If the two unions united, that would be great! I know there was a movement on the city side to petition rurals to join them years ago (10 or so) but not many rurals… Read more »

I did not read all of the comments but found it interesting that not much was said about salary. I have been a Rural Carrier for 22 years, 7 of those as an RCA. An RCA may work 1 day a week or 6 days a week, they never know. Although they are paid well by the hour, there ar no benefits. I was blessed to have a husband who had a good job and was retired military, so I had medical/dental and we were okay. We have a lot of single parents who are RCA's, maybe working 1 day… Read more »

When the "experts" decide what the new rural "standards" are – it's gonna "bring the knife" to the city craft as well…..gonna finally be hard to explain how the bigger rural routes can get done faster and more efficient than on the city side……the city carrier union better watch closely what happens here…..

As a newly retired RURAL carrier, I can tell you that the stress and nonsense USPS put us rurals through was a BIG part of why I chose to retire at 56 with 14 years career and 4 years RCA service, at a big loss financially (5% less in pension for every year under 62, only 50% of unused sick leave accrued toward years of service)! Rurals are PUSHED to avoid gettingt OT during Christmas, the only time it's actually allowed, mail is RARELY curtailed for rurals (if it's here, it goes), and mail flow is NEVER controlled for rurals… Read more »

Oh yeah and if you city carriers think the evaluated system is so hot ask yourself why the postal service is pushing so hard to get city carriers on it. And why your union is refusing to get on it.

Leland Grant said it well but I would like to add that 8 and 9 mile routes are also very hard on the bladder because you stand out there for as long as you can take it and no rest room nearby. And after 5 hours of this (my personal amazing limit) something's gotta give. BTW that's 5 hours on the street I'm talking about NOT in the office which is even more hours added to your day.. Not everyone is running a route in 4 hours and most city carriers in my office were gone home before I trudged… Read more »

i read all the comments and commented too. many city carriers[ if those commenting are a good example] feel we all get done by 1pm daily, few rural carriers get to do this, this may be close to true on some routes , not too many anymore, we need to become on union, one pay schedule etc, and management needs to brought to heel.

If city carriers worked on a scale of volume like the rural carriers, they would be done early also. I really don't know what they do to be out so long anyway. Rural very rarely takes a lunch either, so we can get done early. If city would be salary, the clerks could be done early and save money on how many clerks are in office.

ed et al city carriers , unless you fellows have worked in multiple offices, then you really don't know what all rural carriers do.————————– my office has 16 rural and 12 city routes, only 2 rural routes regularly get done under the evaluated . and those routes have many quick to deliver areas that have many ndcbu delivery units, our 43k routes get paid equivalent to city 40,——————— when our mail goes down during a count, we lose PAY, not work, when you guys get a drop, they adjust your workload, not your pay. our so called OT [ any… Read more »

I can only quote what the arbitrator said in his ruling, "The Postal Service would be well served to use the evaluated system with the city craft". Because Rural carriers work smarter and harder without breaks and lunches means we can go home. Statistically Rural carriers are the MOST productive workers in the Post Ofiice due to the evaluated system. City carriers are slugs, that actually count to themselves while casing during route inspections so they don't case too fast. Sad, sad, sad! Remember 7:01… How quickly did you get done when you could go home after 7 and get… Read more »