on Jul 5th, 2010 in Labor | 40 comments
One area identified in the Postal Service’s action for the future is to increase workforce flexibility. A larger, part-time work force would give postal management the flexibility to increase or decrease employees depending on mail volume. Although this change is not as drastic as closing postal facilities or switching to 5-day delivery, it raises questions about what a part-time postal workforce would look like. The Postal Service has fewer part-time employees than any other international postal operation. Currently only 13 percent of its workforce is part-time. Meanwhile, Deutsche Post employs a 40 percent part-time staff, while the United Kingdom’s Royal Mail employs 22 percent. Local competitors also have a higher percentage of part-time employees. For example, UPS employs a 53 percent part-time workforce and FedEx remains around 40 percent. Generally speaking, the Postal Service is behind the average American private sector firm, which employs a 30 percent part-time labor workforce.

Is there a downside to employing a larger part-time workforce? Critics argue that part-time employees are less loyal to their employers, and as a result, they increase ”quasi-fixed” costs associated with recruiting, training, and oversight. However, recent findings call these assertions into question. A study in the Annual Review of Sociology found that part-time employees are just as likely as full-time employees to view their jobs as a “central life activity” and to be “equally committed to their organizations.” Moreover, the study also mentioned that employees’ demand for part-time jobs has increased since the 1980s, as the American workforce has increasingly desired job flexibility. Increasing the number of part-time postal employees would make the Postal Service more flexible in the face of declining mail volumes, seasonal fluctuations, and market volatility. For more information visit Newsweek story on part time workers. UPS info blog. A look at FedEx labor unrest. What do you think about the Postal Service’s idea to increase its part-time workforce? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).


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"The Postal Service should not replace full-time retirees with part-time employees."

"Retirees?" Did you really mean that, or was it some sort of Freudian slip?

there is no career in being a part time employee.beneifits are low, making it difficult to raise a family.do mcdonalds and wal mart ring a bell? constant tunover is bad for business. there is alot more to mail delivery than most people think. service should be the bottom line.

How is it that the OIG cannot get Bernstock prosecuted, yet begs and kneels to the whims of such silly ideals as making 8 hour a day, 40 hour a week jobs into Part Time 8 hour a day, 40 hour a week jobs? Where is the logic here?

Who are you working for?

There are two sets of rules now for the first time in American History, the rich get one rule, the workers get another, as declared by a our federal agency sanctioned by a our law enforcement? Are you kidding?

Has the OIG been sidelined into a publicity stunt or do they really wake up each morning as armed, badge carrying, handcuff toting federal agents here to protect the USPS from Fraud, Waste, and Abuse? This is embarassing, OIG. There are some big dogs stealing and wasting millions for their own personal gain. You boys and girls are set out to chase a few craft employees for pennies?

Should 40 hour a week jobs violate every law and contract by becoming regularly worked Part Time jobs? That doesn't even make sense!

Go catch some real badguys.

How many managers are falsifying timekeeping? How many executives are engaged in fraud? How many in management falsify numbers or create artificial results through unwarranted expenditures? How many marry into the nepotistic self serving wanna-be business click of the USPS and rape it? It ain't all of them, only a few, so go get 'em! We all read right through this diversionary tactic ideas blog thing. Nobody's being fooled here. Get some guts and become federal law enforcement officers! That's what you were born to do!

I think that the main question is will it save money...YES. But, is this where we want to go as a country or as an organization? A part time work force, with no benefits, working at the will of their manager? High turnover, no loyalty, and no future. Whats next...part time OIG? Inspectors? Management (sorry mail volume is down, we'll call you in when it's back up...

OIG personnell should spend half of their workday on these "so called neutral articles" that are aimed at harming the ACTUAL workers in the P.O. ie; people coming in contact with the actual mail, and the other half working some of said mail. Thats some workforce flexibility.

you have got to be kidding!!!!!!

the people costing the most are the ones who NEVER touch the mail. Management and the OIG!!!!!

I would like to remind the OIGs, or maybe inform them if they weren't aware, that the USPS agreed to having no part time flexible employees in 200 man year offices.
In San Diego, in 2006, when this new rule took effect, we had about 200 PTFs at the plant, midway and city stations. (All considered a 200 man year bid cluster) All those people were converted to full time status by December 2007. If they had remained PTFs, when the economic disaster started in 2008, Management could have cut their hours when needed, especially during the dead days of summer. But they were all Full time regular, and management couldn't do anything with them. Hence, the horrible life altering excessing from the facility. Many were then forced to become part time regulars (different from PTFs) in order to stay in San Diego. And now management doesn't know what to do with PTRs, because they have set hours and days off, unlike a PTF, where you could send them home for a few days, or work them 4 hours a day this week, 8 hours a day next week.

PTRs are retiring and resigning at a higher rate than our full time (not including last years incentive retirement program). There is less job loyalty among their ranks--they know the USPS doesn't want them, so why should they care much either.

Now remember Mr. OIG, management agreed to the Union's request to abolish the PTF from large facilities. Now, the question you need to ask Management is, WHY did they choose to pull the noose around their own throats? I have been wondering for the past 3 years why they consented to this.

In this last year of the contract, I would think that mgmt's negotiators would attempt to restore PTFs to the workforce. Would it only apply to new hires? (And the USPS is not hiring) Or would PTRs who are in danger of being excessed have the option to reverting to PTF in order to stay in their bid cluster? These are questions that people smarter than I will have to debate.

But please, don't blame the union, who admittedly is out to get the employee's as much money and bennies as they can. That is their job. The USPS is supposed to looking out for THEIR best interests. Where were they during negotiations? Having costume parties and barbecue steaks, like they do here in San Diego once a month (on the clock, at work, by the way, Mr OIG)

Just wondering, is anyone awake at the switch?

Hiring part-time employees may give the USPS the ability to utilize staff more efficiently, but history shows they will not do so. For the first 20 of my USPS years my office employe part-time flexible (PTF) clerks. These employees were not worked "part-time", nor were they used in a "flexible" manner.

The PTFs worked in excess of 40 hours every week and were schedule to work the same hours. How is that part-time? How is that flexible?

Today, the PTFs have all been converted to full-time via negotiations. The USPS still employs casual employees who are guaranteed neither hours nor a set schedule. Not surprisingly, these casuals start work at the same time every day.

You ask if hiring part-time employees would give the USPS staffing flexibility? Theya have HAD part-time employees for decades and have never used them in a flexible manner. What makes you think they wouls start now?

Partime is like marriage without sex. All the hassles, pressure, responsibilities, etc. BUT NO BENEFITS. Ask an RCA.

Sirs, I bekieve that the two biggest assets that have kept the Post Office viable are it's reliability and it's security. The fact that, despite the difficulties that management brings to the workforce by not following the contract, the employees like their job and enjoy their contact with the public and the feedback from the public shows that. Add in that the Post Office is the most trusted federal agency year after year; and there is no reason to tamper with a winning formula. Other companies envy our ublic reputation.
Now, if you wish t improve service, save workhours,or improve employee morale and generally benefit the entire Post Office work force, question why the Post Office pays out the same monies year after year for the ame contract violations and it doesn't change. How is it that management willfully and deliberately wastes so much money, that now we don't have, and is never taken to task fot it? Train the managers correctly, correct them for mistakes, and send them back to craft when they prove thenselves unfit for the job. Every other company in the world oertes this way but the Post Office, where once you become a manager you have a job for life regardless of how you perform or how much havoc you create.

Sure, lets eliminate the last of the middle-class jobs. Just what the Repubs want, more slave labor.

If this would have happened years ago, the crisis the USPS is now going through would not be as severe. Full-time employees saddle the USPS with alot of fixed costs. Union rules to reasign/excess is very cumbersome. USPS needs to wake up and make some serious changes in upcoming union negotiations or they will be history.

I haven't heard anything about cutting back on supervision or management or their salaries. In fact, the USPS is agressively recruiting more managerial positions.

You hit the nail on the head- what workers want is more job flexibility. What USPS wants is to employ people part=time, but requiring them to be continuously available, and the only flexibility coming in to play is that USPS requires the employee to be flexible to what they want, when they want it. So, the studies are not valid.

You might be able to obtain such workers if they were employed in a way that yhey could also get another job without conflict. But, when you want total job loyalty out of the employee, when all you care about is using them to save money and not pay them benefits, it ain't gonna happen. You will have constant turnover, PMRs continuing to float money orders, and all the other problems USPS has to deal with only magnified many times.

Sooner or later you are gonna run out of little old ladies to hire as PMRs, and desperate people who take casual jobs on the false premise they are "getting a foot in the door".

This change to part-time employment is what is devastating the economy and leaving many Americans without health insurance or other benefits. The part-time idea will make more money available to give bonuses to the full-time management, and enhance their benefits, while devasting the local economy as Postal workers are forced to take food stamps, welfare, and get free school lunches.

The clerk and mail handler crafts are antiquated entities from bygone days, and the USPS would be better off to merge these crafts. Such a move would provide more flexibility with the present workforce intact, and this may relieve the need for introducing additional part-time employees to the workforce.

After a 37 year career as a postal employee in capacities ranging from letter carrier to an administrator, I retired.

After several years of 100% retirement, I began looking for a part time job to keep myself busy. I wound up becoming a TRC (temporary rural carrier) in a small office.

While the pay was extremely low, I enjoyed being back in the workforce. However the downside was that I was expected to be available whenever needed at a moment's notice. I didn't mind the regular schedule or the occasional last minute call at first. But it pretty much reached a breaking point when the reporting requirements became unreasonable. after several years of this,The last day of employment for me was when I reported to work on a scheduled Saturday only to find that they had decided to let the regular work overtime. They could have called me at home rather than have me waste my time driving to work. To me it was just a message of little value I had to my employer.

So my point is that there are workers who would be willing to be part-time, but the employment conditions should be reasonable. Expecting part-time workers not to have any outside interests is an archaic mind set.

The clerk and mail handler crafts should be almost all casual {part time}. There are very few skill positions left in either craft. In clerk craft only window clerks and weigh mail clerks need to be full time. I knew several mail handlers that grossed over 100 grand, pluss bennies. That's ridiculous. You should be able to hire 5 casuals for that, or more. At the same time a deep cut in management should also take place.
Someone mentioned union rules. There is no such thing. Contracts are negotiated by both sides.

does this part time work force include part-time managers? I bet it doesn't. You do noy need a full-time know nothing supervisor. hell, our PM has been at our office over 12 years and still doesn't know the route scheme.the bottom line is you get what you pay for, pure and simple.part=timers cause messes you want regulars to fix.

will work force flexibility work for OIG ?

Underdog, slave labor is what the dems want. They want us on food stamps so they can control us. What the customers want is the same person on the route each day that knows their names and cares about accuracy and customer service. We may need to take a wage freeze for awhile, which sucks, but it might be a reality. Upper management needs to forget about bonuses unless we start making a profit again.

hey rmpoo. if the unions are so bad, go into work tomorrow and tell your supervisor you want casual wages and that no longer require a/l,s/l or medical insurance.

I think money wise, casual or TE is better than PTF. Because PTF have health benefits while casual or TE nothing. Remember health insurance is expensive

How do you expect people to pay bills when they don't know if they'll get 2 hours of work in a week or 40 hours. You can't pay rent or buy food on 2 hours a week. Why would we want to deprive people of the ability to support themselves and their families and with the flexible hours required of PTF's, casuals and TE's, you can't even get another job because you have no idea what hours you would be available.

How about a reduction in management? If any reductions are needed, that's where to look.

One of the big problems with use 'em as you need 'em employees is that management will abuse them even worse than they do the people who are "protected" under contract. Supervisors and postmasters would give all the hours to their "friends" and those less loveable will be kicked to the curb. Let's make some of the smalltown postmasters and clerks flexible----then they can see what it is like to get dirty and EARN a paycheck.

I think the USPS could save a greater deal of money by outsourcing the job of OIG. No $100,000 + salaries, no benefts and able to be let go with no recourse. That would help solve a good deal of monetary woes the USPS is facing. Eliminate the Postal Service Gestapo.

I am a small town level 11 PM, and I would love to pick up some OT for a little extra money. There are others that feel the same way. Problem is the union rules don't allow for it, even though I do not supervise anybody and the work I do is closer the a window clers than a higher level PM. The flexibility in a case like this would be a win-win for everybody.

My office used to have 2 six hour city routes carried by 3 PTF Carriers. Thanks to maximization they now have an 8 hour route and an aux. route and I have to find hours at different installations. Your question is a mute point-just ask the NALC.

Here's the discipline.
Even convicted felons in federal & state prisons get health care & dental.
A single payer health policy these days is $350.00/month.

I can tell you that in Hungary they even closed the postal offices in small villages and we have mobile mailmen serving people from the van. They save a lot of money (overheads, additional costs) and people still get what their mails. It was a bit strange but people got used to it soon.

With all due respect, the problem we have is that our nation is so large. A smaller nation, and even some locations within the United States, might benefit from this idea.

I think part-time workers are just as committed to their jobs as people who work full-time.. However even if you are only working part-time hours you still need structure and security. You need to know how many hours a week you are working and when otherwise you cannot plan or budget for your bills..

Indeed! A person cannot sit at home waiting by the phone and survive. He needs a minimum number or hours for security. If an installation can't supply enough work, give one or more the opportunity to reduce their work hours before reducing the hours for all of them.

I think part time and flexy hours are always a good idea - I'm a stay at home mum who has to sew corset dresses to make ends meet. If there were flexible part time positions in my local post office I'd be first in line to put down the corsets and sign up. Alot of mums would be the same & we'd probably work alot harder than the full timers who have more options.

unfortunately, the current practice of the postal service ensures that part-time postal employees are guarnateed no more than 2 hours per work week and are virtually excluded from ever garnering a full-time job. not exactly what you hope for when taking a part-time job, is it? also, the to the level 11 postmaster wanting more hours???? did anyone force you to take that job? you knew what the rules were....and i don't doubt that you have plenty of energy left at the end of the day.....you probably do not spend more than 2 hours a day engaged in meaningful work.....there-in lies the problem....

I've worked part time, and I've worked full time. Full time is better.
Back to the Middle Ages. No insurance, no benefits, nohow. Am I the only one who sees the whole edifice crumbling into cinders?

being a PTF i know exactaly how it is, the postal service owns you, yes it is good money, but you are not allowed to have a life. you never know what or when you are going to be working

Part time employees can also be of good service to the postal dept .why not give them a chance


I took the USPS career website exam in late Oct. (candidate #81359079). At the end of the exam you are emailed a link to take assessment test #473 with a very limited time to do so. As a result the career website lists me as failed and unqualified to apply for any USPS position. How do I arrange to take this test? The other problem is the driving history section with a question on damage to the vehicle expecting a % answer and the site will not accept any number I provide. I cannot find a website or person to help me with this situation which is very annoying. Why doesn't a help line exist??? Please help me solve these problems.
Thank you, Mary Thomas

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