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Guest post by Older and Wiser.
Older and Wiser is a rural carrier.
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This is how I see it!
Guess what is right around the corner? Well, in only 2 years from now, the rural carriers will be AGAIN in contract negotiations. This series will look at the evaluated and hourly pay systems. The discussion needs to start now if there is any chance to bring change if that is where the membership would like to go.
This first of 3 parts has nothing to do with the evaluated or hourly systems. This part deals with two subjects that affect how much we are paid and should be part of any negotiations between the NRLCA and the USPS.
First, why are we paid less than city carriers? According to the city carriers last pay schedule (11/14/2015) a new regular carrier at 40 hours gets $47,215 while a new rural carrier at 40 hours gets $44,225 according to the 3/5/2016 pay schedule. Since we do the same tasks as a city carrier, why don’t we have the same pay schedules AND why doesn’t the NRLCA aim for equality in pay? If the city carriers were a man and rural carriers a woman, there would be such a cry of wage discrimination, but for us, nothing is heard. What if the NRLCA told the USPS that pay equality with the city side would be first and foremost in negotiations and is ready to go to arbitration to win it? Let an arbitrator see the obvious similarities between the 2 jobs and let the dice roll where they may. Our side could bargain to let the pay equality come in over the life of the contract to ease any burden. Well NRLCA, Why Not?
Second, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri believes the USPS may be losing money by under-charging competitors such as UPS and FedEx to carry their mail. Also, McCaskill asked the Government Accountability Office to look at these agreements, and the agency confirmed some of her concerns when they discovered the Postal Service wasn’t accounting for key cost-drivers such as package size and weight when making agreements, and wasn’t collecting some of the revenue it was owed from the deals.
According to the Dead Tree Edition, a US postal and publishing source, the Postal Service admitted as far back as 2013 that the USPS admitted FSS is a more costly process than Carrier Route prepared mail, or couldn’t prove otherwise as shown in their responses to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) in the Annual Compliance Determination (ACD). FSS machines were costing the USPS more in processing costs than they had gained in delivery savings.
As reported in Government Executive, “The U.S. Postal Service has long sold its decision to reduce the size of its physical footprint as a necessary evil, a painful cost-cutting measure required to adapt to the changing landscape of mail delivery. One problem: It did not cut costs.” Now, the USPS has admitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission that Phase 2 required shipping the mail further distances and added a whopping $130 million last year in additional transportation costs. The $130 million in transportation costs is more than double the $64 million in claimed savings for Phase 2, resulting in a $66 million net loss. The total losses for this plan will result in even more red ink as the Postal Service’s $66 million figure does not take into account the revenues lost by pushing away customers who now find the mail too slow for their business and personal needs.
What does all this mean? When the USPS cries that they are poor and tries to hold down raises, are the rural carriers, and all the crafts for that matter, being used to subsidize the Postal Service’s losses? Why are they not being held accountable for their own failures? Why should we be afraid of arbitration when it’s really their own fault for any financial problems that puts limits on our salaries? Couldn’t the NRLCA bring these negative facts to the arbitrator’s attention to sway his/her decision? Well NRLCA, Why Not?
Before we consider whether the evaluated or hourly pay methods is best for us, we should seek pay equality with the city carriers and be ready to hold the Postal Service’s feet to the fire for their bad business decisions. The NRLCA has the ammunition to back up these claims, but a gun is no good unless you have the will to fire it. Well NRLCA, Why Not?