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The only thing we have to fear is ourselves.

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I spend a lot of time online and there are a lot of pages on the internet that I look at while scouring for news and information to share with everyone.  I see a lot of crazy things posted by rural carriers, but there is nothing that gets me riled up more than to see a rural carrier post about working off the clock.


A few months ago, we received an arbitration award that cut rural carrier time standards.  A few years before that we had the Wells arbitration that also cut rural carrier time standards. When time standards get cut, ALL rural carriers lose money.


I wonder how many rural carriers know why our time standards get cut when the NRLCA goes into an arbitration?  How many know that the actions and decisions you make every single day affect what will happen when we go to arbitration.  It is easy to think that one little thing wont hurt but that is not the reality.


When the rural craft loses money due to time standard changes, my website lights up like the Griswold house in the Christmas Vacation movie. Everyone is mad, disgusted and with good reason.  But how many of you admit that YOU are part of the problem?  If you have worked one single minute on any rural carrier duties while not being on the clock, you have contributed to the direct loss of salary across the board for every single rural carrier in the country.


To understand this, let’s think of it this way.  Lets pretend that we all wear a pedometer, which is a device that records every single step we take.  Except this “pedometer” records time.  Lets pretend that every time you go to work and sign in, you start your time pedometer.  As you work throughout the day, your time pedometer records all time you use to perform your route duties for the day.  When you are finished, you turn your time pedometer off, and your time is recorded for your route.  All of that time is recorded, down to the second and thrown into a great big data dump that is sent to the USPS.  It shows them how much time you worked under or over your established evaluation on your route on any particular day.  All of this time gets tallied up and collected when the USPS and NRLCA go into an arbitration.
Now lets look at things that could skew those numbers

1.  Lets say you have a new sub who is not especially adept in the route yet so you decide to “volunteer” to help them on their first day out on the route alone.  So you go in and spend 2 hours helping them case, and then lets say you go out and deliver one hour of your route, just to help the poor thing out.  You have just given the USPS 3 hours of free labor.  That is 3 hours that will NOT be attributed to your route time.


2.  Lets say we have a Monday holiday coming up and you don’t want to have a really bad day on Tuesday so you go in and case mail on Monday (while your supervisor or PM looks the other way)  Lets say you spend 3 hours casing mail just to get a step ahead for Tuesday.  You have just given the USPS 3 more hours of free labor.  That is 3 hours that will NOT be attributed to your route time.


3.  Lets say you go into work an hour early but you fear that you might get in trouble for going in so early so you work for an hour off the clock and then sign in.  You have just given the USPS 1 more hour of free labor.  That is another hour that will not be attributed to your route time.


4.  Lets say you need to get off early on one day so you ask your RCA to run half the route and you tell them you will pay them out of your pocket.  The RCA runs 2 hours of your route that day.  Your RCA has just given the USPS 2 hours of free labor.  That is two more hours that will not be attributed to your route time.


5.  Now, lets say you have a doctor’s appointment at 2 pm one day but your route usually takes you until 3:30 to get finished.  You go into work and rush as fast as you can to get through it.  You drive like a bat out of hell through the route to get to that doctor’s appointment.  You get done by 1:30 pm.  You have just created 2 hours of “under time” on that time pedometer and the USPS is recording every minute.




Just in the scenarios above you have created 10 hours worth of time that WILL not be included in the information that goes into the USPS data dump.  It will NOT be attributed to your route.  So now, lets say that when it is time for the USPS and the NRLCA to go into arbitration, they pull all of our time pedometers and tally them all up nationwide.  They average everyone’s route time together and end up with, as an example, 6 hours of under time for the rural craft.  When they say we have 6 hours of under time, that means that they are going into arbitration showing that every single rural carrier in this country works 6 hours under their evaluations.


This information is what the USPS uses to persuade an arbitrator to change our time standards.  This information is what causes rural carriers to have their salaries cut.


What would happen if those 10 hours of under time you just created were attributed to your route like they should be?  Just think of the numbers nationwide.. The numbers might not have been used against us to change our time standards and it might not have resulted in salary cuts.


So while you think coming in 20 minutes early or coming in to help out your new sub does not hurt anyone, IT DOES.  It hurts ALL of us.  If you engage in any of the activities above YOU are part of the problem.  I don’t mean to be so harsh, but it is the absolute truth.  You are hurting your own livelihood and the livelihoods of every single rural carrier in the country.


While you might think you are just being nice, or you are trying to fudge the numbers to make evaluation, you are only creating evidence for the USPS to use against all of us.


We are destroying ourselves from within.  There is no need to fear what the USPS will do to us in a mail count.  We are doing it for them.  If you continue to engage in these practices you are in part to blame for what is happening to the rural craft. So when you lose money due to time standard changes, you have contributed to that.  And when all rural carriers lose money due to time standard changes, you have contributed to that.  It is one thing if your actions only affect you, but it is another if your actions are hurting everyone.


If you enjoy losing money, then continue on your current path of giving the USPS free labor. Eventually the rural craft will implode upon itself  and the only thing left will be the dry hulls of rural carriers who have been worked to death because of time standards being lowered.


It is either time to wake up and realize what you have been doing to the craft, or it is time to continue to help destroy the rural craft. Your choice. For the sake of myself and rural carriers across this country, I hope you choose the right path.

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