The Future of the Evaluated System for Rural Carriers – A guest blog by Robin Ritchie

This is a guest post by Robin Ritchie. Robin Ritchie is a regular rural carrier. As most of the USPS employees know there is a engineering study being done by Postal Officials and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association (NRLCA) to determine the fairness of the evaluated system of pay for Rural Carriers. The evaluated system was developed many years ago before Delivery Point System Mail (DPS) and FSS were started. The evaluation is based on the National Mail Count. The whole system is outdated and needs to be recalculated to give both the employees and the Postal Service better time standards for the job. As in most companies there becomes a time when job descriptions and requirements need to be reviewed. The rural carrier craft is the only craft in the Postal System that is paid this way. The evaluation is determined during a certain numbers of day usually in February when each and every piece of mail is counted and recorded. After the costly and tedious task of counting and measuring every piece of mail a value is given to each type of mail depending on the size and other measurements. After weeks of stress filled days of counting thousands and thousands pieces of mail a evaluation is determined. The carrier is then paid that amount for the rest of the year no matter how much mail they may receive. Over time the system has been changed but it seems never to the carriers advantage. One change was routes that had more than 12 boxes in a mile are paid less than those who don’t. Those who are provided with a right hand vehicle are paid less than those who provide their own even when they are paid EMA everyday for using their own vehicle. The postal provided vehicles are not the most reliable vehicles since they are usually ones that are not longer used by city carriers. Most of them are old and worn out before they are placed on a rural route.

At the time the system was put in use I would suspect most people were able to stay in the evaluated time for the route. But some of the problem with this system is many duties of a rural carrier are not included in the evaluation. As many rural carriers can testify when a question arises about something they are required to do where it is found on the mail count the typical answer you will get “It’s built in”. The problem is that most of the time it isn’t built in. The mail count has a place for everything to be counted for but many duties just are addressed. One of the main issues for many carriers is keeping the mail case up to date with current labels. When the labels are not current it is almost impossible for a substitute carrier to come in and work most times only one day a week. The current system with most of the mail coming to the office in delivery point systems is the information is usually not able to keep up with forwarding addresses and such. When carriers take this mail directly to the street as the Post Office management wants to require you to do it causes many problems. The biggest problem is when customers get the wrong mail usually for the person who has lived in the house before they moved in their first response is “If I got someone else’s mail where is mine?” With all the security breaches in our current history customers worry someone will get their information and use it to steal their identity. It is a valid thing to be concerned about. There is very many mail pieces that contain not only information that should be secure but also gift cards and checks. As a postal carrier and customer I feel the same way. I do not want my mail to go to someone else. The DPS and FSS systems make it a very easy to have mail misdelivered. A regular carrier may know someone has moved but the substitute has no way to know that on the street as they deliver the mail. There is no way for them to know if there are more than one name at a particular address which one/all/or none go to that address. When they make a guess and it is wrong the customer doesn’t understand and why should they?

The Postal Service is just that a Service. A service that many customers are not receiving because the carriers are rushing through the job just to try to make evaluation. To make up time they take chances of having a vehicle accident by sorting mail between stops. It is hard enough to drive in many areas without having to worry about getting in and out of traffic, sort mail, find parcels, and get back to the post office before dispatch time. Customer service is not what it should be. Many of these carriers are also having to drive a left hand drive vehicle by sitting in the middle of the seat and driving with one hand on the steering wheel and operating the pedals with the left foot in all kinds of weather. Safety is compromised to start with and the pressures of the evaluated system makes it even worse. For those carriers who are so “lucky” to have a postal provided right hand vehicle also have to take a pay cut because the pay standard for the DPS mail is reduced even more. A rural carrier is paid more to put an unaddressed piece of mail in a mailbox than to sit on the side of a highway and sort addressed pieces of mail. For the unfortunate carrier to have FSS also they must sort letters and then flats at each address on the side of the road in all kinds of weather and traffic

What is the solution? Only the engineering study can lead to a beginning. It is my opinion that some of the management that is demanding the evaluation is met every day or even every week should be given the task to deliver a route with the DPS and FSS in every kind of weather. I would be glad to case my route and load my vehicle for them and let them see exactly what it takes. Our lives are put in danger each and everyday as the roads become more crowded. In some states with severe weather it is a gamble everyday for some carriers to safely deliver the mail. In my opinion the evaluated system needs major changes or taken away completely. It is impossible to give good customer service as it is now and is a major safety issue for carriers.This is a guest post by Robin Ritchie. Robin Ritchie is a regular rural carrier.

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Ruffledumiddle , I totally agree w/ you. It’s the good ole boys club. You’ve got all these retirees who are making decisions for the working carriers. You have state rep’s that don’t even serve a route at all. All they hear is the bad about us. How can you believe or really defend our rights ? Most importantly they need to grow a spine. I’ve seen where other unions using the manuals etc have won the same grievances we’ve lost! Why? I like you, hear one thing , then another is done. Why bother? I know of so many that… Read more »

That would have been the worse thing that could have happened. Do you really think the NALC is a utopia? Far from it. It has just as many problems as ours does. Plus the national folks running the NALC are city carriers and would try to conform us to their rules which would be like the proverbial square peg in the round hole.

The timeframe for the count was forced on the craft by the arbitrator. But when we had the count in Sept., the same thing was said (slowest time of the year). I think most people honestly know that summertime has the lightest volume of the year.

I was a rural carrier and now a supervisor. I started out driving a left hand car and sat in the middle of the seat. I also toke DPS to the street. I made cards that I cased whenever I was going to take a day off for my sub with the names of any forwards for this address, old (I would let them know to UTF them) and new forwards. When necessary I still go out and deliver mail and packages. The study has it’s problems because it is based on everything in the new scanners, that means taking… Read more »

Will somebody tell us, “what is the status” of this engineering study? I have 30+ years as a regular rural carrier and have filed many grievances because the local union has quoted articles and paragraphs in the contract and told me that I have a legitimate grievances, only to have them returned denied, from the next step. The union thinks this engineering study will help us but they are not willing to fairly represent us with the contracts that have been or are in place right now. Does anybody believe they will enforce the results from this study? A bunch… Read more »

Andrea Bonkoski

Well, we had the opportunity to join the city carrier union and be protected like they are. Hind sight. ….

When you

I don’t understand why they keep a running count of everything we do everyday, they should be able to average for the year. Instead, they wait till slowest time they can think of to count… Parcels are over running us.

If anyone listens to the engineers, this will be the last mail count as we know it. Most of the numbers are readily available. They could use a rolling average. Of course, the national officers are only concerned with what benefits them.

I guess I’m confused??? Why would the national officers only be concerned with what benefits them??? Most of those people rarely run their routes! I think Heywood is correct…most of our volume is already booked…the problem lies with the amount of time given to deliver packages…some routes are really rural which means going up and down driveways is costing those carriers money and time…while other carriers are delivering to an NBU with parcel lockers! However, during Christmas their volume drastically increases and many times because it is Christmas those carriers are expected to make house deliveries! It’s not that this… Read more »

After reading headline really should read “current state of the evaluated system”

Tammy Bigham Bush

Have any of you read postal managements response to the OIG report? City Carriers are a protected class. We, us, “you people”, will continue to be mocked and abused by our employer until we find a union that will represent our interests. USPS is fine with the status quo.

Tina, I agree. I am in a Study office and opped out of mail count. I sign in on scanner then exit to load and end load and exit to rt and put millage in and back to po and put millage in again and sign out. Also, you get out to the door you record this in the scanner too for a pkg.

Credit for parcels w/delcon are worth much more than letters and flats any day and thanks to Amazon and soon to be Albadabe monster contract our routes will change as we know it . They fight to change credit for parcels in our new contract like they did flats .

Shawn, enlighten us

All I know is im sick of this mail count already. Little ole Grove Hill Al can barely get a truck by 9 every morning. Its freaking ridiculous and I will be screaming praise Jesus Hallelujah when Feb 28 is here. Sources say this will be the very last mail count. My route was mandatory this time unfortunately. Mail count sucks.

Yes…it’s a terrible waste of manpower. I’m on a 30 hour aux route, the only rural route in the station and the manager stands there the entire 2 to 3 hours while I get the route ready to take to the street. Not only is it an extremely tedious way to evaluate a route but the manpower in order to do it could be used so much more wisely. I sure hope they figure out a better way.

Great question! It is obvious that the study is not going their way.

So if they are conducting this study ,then why are we wasting time & money counting ?

I don’t see anything about the future in this article. More of her idea of the way it is now…

Waste of time reading what we all know.

Robin Ritchie, our daily frustrations very well articulated by you. I do not have high hopes for the future of the craft. I’ve been around to long and seen too much. Engineers are not going to change the mindset of the powers that be. They will always be looking for a way to dismiss what we do and get away as cheaply as possible.

Even if they come up with the hourly wage, it won’t be any easier on the carrier. They will be pushed to get back in 8 hours.