Offices plan later start times despite Maryland shooting tragedy

GUEST BLOG BY VOCAL RCA

Before the Thanksgiving break, a standup talk was given in several Central Florida post offices to announce start times as late as 9:30 a.m. despite a recent Maryland late night shooting of a letter carrier in Landover, Maryland.

On Saturday, November 23rd at approximately 7:30 p.m., Tyson Jermaine Barnette, 26, was shot and killed in Prince George County, a suburb of Washington, D.C.  Mr. Barnette, a City Carrier, started his route later due mainly to mail processing closures, which have caused delays around the country. Such closures are causing delays in mail being brought from processing facilities to post offices, where mail carriers are stationed. Processing facilities are being moved further from post offices in an effort to save money.  Understaffing has become a recent operating procedural problem as well, because of the financial problems of the United States Postal Service. According to a November 25th Chicago Sun-Times.com article, by Mary Mitchell, Mr. Barnette was pivoting, helping out, on another route which resulted in  a longer street delivery time. As of this time Congress has not done any type of Postal reform to alleviate a financial burden that forces the United States Postal Service to pay billions of dollars, in a ten-year time frame, that started in 2006. The money is supposed to go towards health benefits, for future retirees, up to 75 years in the future.

Many carriers have been notified that start times will change to 9:00 a.m. or 9:30 a.m., on December 7th. This new start time is in direct correlation with the Christmas overtime period, which starts the first Saturday of December. Letter and Rural Carriers are expected to work extremely long  hours because of the anticipated high volume that is associated with the holiday season. Higher volumes of packages and letters will result in delivery personnel staying out to deliver after dark. During the winter time, it gets dark much earlier because of daylight savings, which ended on November 3rd. Letter Carriers normally get paid hourly but Rural Carriers will also get paid hourly, if and when, they accumulate more than 40 hours in a given week. Normally, Rural Carriers get paid on a evaluated time standard. The Christmas overtime creates a major issue because a lot of  pressure is imposed on carriers to uphold those evaluated times even when workloads are doubled or tripled this time of year. With the increased presence of USPS commercials nationwide, parcel delivery is expected to increase dramatically this year and in the years to come. However, due to understaffing, wait times are increasing as well, causing carriers to deliver in the dark alot more than in past years.

The United States Postal Service knew that parcel demand would increase and still has not added adequate personnel to handle the workload. The only solution they,USPS, could come up with is later start times! Certain routes could wind up delivering mail past midnight if the start times remain at 9:30 a.m. Christmas overtime has been an ongoing battle for years between management and carriers. Bonuses are handed out to management personnel for saving money during this time of year. If certain budgeted hours are not paid to carriers, then it is paid to management personnel. Greed is the only reason why the United States Postal Service would fluctuate start times. There have already been 21 assaults on carriers this fiscal year, which began on October 1st. Any company that hands out rewards regardless of the end result is the epitome of greed! Carriers across the nation are becoming increasingly angry about the Tyson Barnette tragedy! It is a sad truth but the only way change occurs is when tragedy strikes. However, with this latest shooting, the United States Postal Service has ordered a later start time to avoid paying overtime to carriers. Letter and Rural Carriers must join in a united front to simply choose safety first, and drive safely in daylight, by any means necessary.

Vocal RCA is a Rural Carrier Associate. Click here to see all of Vocal RCA’s Guest Posts

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Community-Labor United for Postal Jobs & Services

TSIB–The System is Broken. The only thing the USPS is good at is screwing up. When faced with a decision, the USPS will always make the worst choice possible. "Carrier shot and killed while delivering mail at night? Start the carriers in later, I want my bonus." That's the mentality of the USPS. In the modern world of ergonomics, carriers and clerks are using equipment older than the Postmaster General. The fact that aging employees are physically breaking down due to being over worked causes no concern from the management. After all, they don't have to sort or carry mail.… Read more »

If the investigation reveals a direct correlation to his being out after dark, every manager in his chain of command, from his immediate supervisor up through the PMG should be charged either with voluntary manslaughter or accessory after the fact, due to the fact that they have an inflexible policy of every piece every day and the later starting time.