The national agreements between the U.S. Postal Service and two of its unions give the Postal Service greater flexibility to use non-career employees for clerk and mail handler duties. The Postal Service pressed for the new employee categories in its separate labor negotiations with the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the National Mail Handlers Union, because it wanted greater workforce flexibility in scheduling and aligning employees with the work available. The Postal Service expects this will allow it to reduce labor costs, which currently make up about 80 percent of total costs.

With the APWU, the Postal Service has already begun to utilize the two new employee categories created under their National Agreement, which include postal support employees and non-traditional full-time employees. The provision on new employee categories in the National Mail Handlers Union’s agreement does not take effect until August, but it will allow for similar type of workers to be used. These workers will start at a lower hourly wage and will have limited benefits.

The number of Postal Service career employees has declined steadily over the past decade. As of early 2013 the Postal Service had just over 500,000 career employees, down from 729,000 in Fiscal Year 2003. Recent buyout offers have spurred a wave of retirements and moved the Postal Service closer to its goal of further reducing its workforce by 150,000 employees by 2015. Unlike previous reduction-in-workforce efforts, the Postal Service now has the flexibility to hire part-time employees. By shifting more work to lower-paid employees with less expensive benefits, the Postal Service is hoping to move the needle on its labor costs.

A recent OIG audit report on the use of part-time employees in processing operations found that the Postal Service is increasing its use of these part-time positions, but it has not hired them to the fullest extent allowed by the contract. It could have saved more than $30 million in labor costs last year if it had hired postal support employees up to contract limits.

Time will tell if the new workforce flexibility significantly reduces labor costs. But our early audit work suggests savings are available. What is your experience with the changes in the types of employees and how they are used? Is mail processed as efficiently, more efficiently, or less efficiently using postal support employees and non-traditional full-time employees? Have there been any unexpected effects (positive or negative) of the changes? Has overtime usage increased or decreased as a result of using part-time and non-traditional full-time employees?

Comments (23)

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  • anon

    Sure no love for the RCA then Regulars right? No securing the mail either, who cares as long as Fedx and UPS feels the USPS is doing their part for corporate America.

    Feb 13, 2016
  • anon

    There are a lot of changes that need to happen. Many abuse the system, like the grievances. Why would you car if duties overlap, your pay does not change. Depending on your tour hours, you can go back to school. My experiences were different. I am not a sit and wait person. I take the initiative and know what I want and will seek out the person that can answer my questions or do it myself. I do not get intimidated by anyone. Depending on where you are coming from and where you want to go, USPS is a great company. I have learned so much working in the processing and distribution center. Another benefit, you can lose weight as a mail handler, just saying. Yes, there is a lot of rigmarole. With any big company, no two are alike. If not for you, move on. USPS follow federal guidelines but not federally owned. They get no money from government but I'm sure they could, perhaps. Views and experiences differ.

    Jan 28, 2016
  • anon

    My experience. Started 11/14/15 as a Casual Mailhandler for the holidays. I applied to just get in since my cousin was a rural carrier (back to her in a moment). Worked at the P&DC West Columbia, SC. $11/hr. Did not read the description, so no problem. Would have preferred PSE at 15.63 but did not know about it. Opportunity for overtime is high. I worked hard and set up stations. For the most part, many will do no more than what is required. They hired 8 MHA. Some employees and even a supv thought I was one of them hired on. I was not, no problem. MHA make $14.71, get OT if needed, driving forklift, etc., get extra pay. Got the low down from one of the MHA who had been there since May 2015. There is a pecking order. He was 4 on the list, two retired, he gets bumped up to #2. He is not leaving, two more to go and he makes permanent/career MHA. You have to talk to the right person. If he were to accept another position, back down he goes in the pecking order. You can find your pecking order from HR. I took the 473 Exam, passed with high 70. Didn't answer some questions, etc. Just wanted to leave. Found out, you will not be called for a position with a 70s score. Retook test, got high 80s. Much better and on radar. Background checked, fingerprinted, drug screen, all done for the casual holiday. Meanwhile, all the time applying for every position on website in SC except rural carrier. You can check your application status where you apply. Four positions on pre-hire list. This you want to see, called for interviews. One, would have been hired as PSE at post office but lost out to a VET, no problem. Love our military. They come first plus get extra points 5-10 when they pass the test. Look at site everyday and apply. (side note, left 15.25 hr job with hospital, benefits, etc, did not want to type any longer, transcription for years and department was going voice recognition). Back at the farm. Yes, many are lazy or just do not care. I took initiative. I never take a no from someone who is not empowered to give a yes in the first place. Case in point, hot working dumper and the belt. One person did not care. Next person, higher up got it down, fan turned towards belt. In heaven, I run hot. I found right person who could help with payroll, etc. Filled out pay card for 2 weeks, got it signed, took pic, done in system. Got swipe card for time machine and had badge during orientation before I was on the floor, never had to wait to get into bldg except when forgot to swipe out. Many did not have badges but had payroll swipe card.. People who started earlier still did not have badges. My tour was 6p-2:30am, fine with me, I was second shift at previous job. During holidays, we could work as much overtime as you want as a clerk 15.63 or casual mail handler 11.00, keep you on, you get 14.71 MHA. 6 day work week, one day off. Breaks were mandatory and lunch/dinner break. Not supposed to work more than 6 hrs without dinner break. Times when I could have a 1-2 hour break, work was coming. Mail did not stop. if they keep you on and not made permanent yet or when you make permanent, during holidays, you work as much as you want as a MHA. As a clerk they cut you off at 40 or more, you get OT but not like the MHA, but clerks get double pay if they work on their day off. The unions, whole other story. MHA union like a cult. Will do no more than they have to. Every position has a union. MHA work dumpster, mail sacks, etc. Clerks work belt standing or sitting. Do you remember when I said I worked the belt. Well, that's b/c workers pulled to go downtown post office so plant was deserted. So we had to do a clerk's job but no extra money. Okay, here's a part that will give you pause. If a mail handler sees a clerk doing a mail handler's job, they file a grievance against the clerk and the mail handler get paid money. Clerks will also tell another clerk that they should not be doing a mail handler's job. Clerks do more sitting at plant. Handlers always moving. So much to say, my thoughts are overlapping. Okay back to cousin, was to work part time as carrier, four girls at home, to include 3 yo and baby. She tried to stay on for 90 days, but was working full time and got mail jeep to deliver (steering on rt side, lights, us mail placard). She lost weight and was tired, in bed before the baby. Remember the floods in South Carolina in October 2015. Her postmaster was a butt, not all like that. She eventually had to quit before her 90 days b/c the mail did not lighten up. This was to be a part time position. Other stories with her, but will leave it. Okay to make a long story longer, had interview as a PTF sales, career position, got the job. (Not PSE, which is postal support). Happy. Will be able to bid on other positions in Liteblue which you cannot do as a 360 employee, must be career. Side note, we had so much OT during holidays b/c quota not met for hiring. I attributed it to the flooding, homes flooded as well as cars. Plant not on bus route. Remember, we applied before the floods. End note about me. Two options for me, (because court reporting and HIM no go. Paid over $200 and passed test for RHIT and no hire b/c no experience in coding), work at a job that pays at least 14.00/hr and go back to school for nursing or get USPS job as career making $20 and up an hour. Need $40,000 a year to live and by living, I mean vacations, able to pay rent and can pay bills and gas and stay until retirement. You know, have a good life, IMO. Did not want to go back to school but would have. Now, I am career and will continue to look for jobs at USPS. I can see why people retire from USPS. You need to know the ins and outs. Talk to right people. I was fortunate to have several people who actually gave a crap. My work ethic is totally different. I give 100% no matter the job or pay. I can see being a postmaster. A lot of people do not want the responsibility of supv, etc., so there are always opportunities for advancement and I've seen it firsthand. Experiences differ across the US. Do your homework.

    Jan 28, 2016
  • anon

    Hiddenite NC post office was closed at 4:40 when sign now says close at 4:45.Are they suppose to stay open till 5?

    Jan 21, 2016
  • anon

    Wow,got the holiday clerk assistant position and as it states holiday meaning seasonal andbas aware this position is temporary even though they told us if you prove yourself and work hard they might like you and keep you. Well,first off this is by far is the worst experience ever working any job and it had to be government well Federal unfortunately..sad. The first two weeks you dont get access to the entrance,everytime you gotta call for them to open for you or wait for someone coming in to let you in.I worked at the plant on Dulles Ashburn.And now there is this issue of writing your attendance down because you are not in the system,my first time ever to do that for all the jobs I have worked terrible.. The first three days schedule wise was okay and i had a feeling i would make some holiday money cause they had me coming in from 2am till close which i liked so long as I didnt get into my other job.I was here to be used and make holiday money and that is why i applied.Then after 3days of that schedule after Christmas tthis other chinese supervisor came in and changed it to 6am so am screwed,cause we always get done around 9-10.30am,that means i will be making only 4hours for 3weeks of seasonal time cause I applied late,some people started in October,i started on Dec 22. She kept reminding us,(she was our supervisor) we are temporary and that they dont really need us,remember we already know this way back from orientation! So everyone was giving their best,i mean not taking breaks and even at one point for two days we had so much we all didnt take lunch up untill i found out whether u take it or not,they will subtract it from your pay!So basically being cheated out of your breaks and lunches.Remember we are trying to be employed here so we are breaking our backs wow,i had my water bottles near by cause i needed them. Well long story short,i never got into system i mean of clocking in and out so i kept writing my time and supervisor will sign them.I was on my best behavior always in the mood or spirit smiling,saying hallo to everyone so i dont know why this supervisor treated us like this especially me,i dont know bout others deeply,she misplaced my time cards or those papers where we record time,since am always smart,i had made copies.Access to building was finally fixed almost towards the end of our holiday time but hey appreciated it,nothing like standing outside waiting for someone to let you in. Come pay time,everyone atleast got paid but me and the other temporary lady,but she was not in a hurry to get it she said but i was,i had bills,thats why i took this job. Now the run around began,it all came down to one lady who is in charge of finance that is supposed to pay us and was never there atleast for 4 days i was trying to get paid for my services,the nasty supervisor ended up telling us we are done and that they dont need us,so nobody was retained as earlier thought,we all got used and spitted out yup despite all that work.There is a lot of lazy people in there,with the kind of work and pace we did am surprised they didnt keep us or even appreciate us by giving us more hours like the way they advertise before hire for this holiday work.The regulars get all overtime and they are the lazy ones plus they didnt like us,maybe they thought we wanted their jobs i guess,if ask them something,it was always ask your supervisor,i dont know or met with silent damn..But that was never an issue to me cause i know how to manoeuvre way around people like that,i found one likeable lady,befriended her and she was way too helpful thanks. So back to my pay,am no longer there and it is two days now still havent been paid. I called yesterday and Supervisor made me call all the offices where she thinks my check might be but they didnt have it.I logged in to Liteblue and still it shows zero,she dudnt enter nothing,so i still have to wait for this finance lady who for seven days now from what am being told is the key to my pay..What if she is on vacation?Does it mean i have to keep waiting,how bout my bills? Omg am so frustrated

    Jan 08, 2016
  • anon

    I just read some of the reviews h ere

    Jan 08, 2016
  • anon

    I just got hire as a cca 2 month ago, and left my job in where I was generating more money. The post office is full of lies. I was hired with the promise of 40 + a week and al Iam making its an average of 25 per week. They also promised to let us know a day in advance of any work, now that was also a lie. Iam a family , man if the post office did not had what they promised they shouldn't trick people by tricking them. I am very disappointed , frustrated and don't what to do.

    Dec 09, 2015
  • anon

    My cousin had to resign RCA b/c it was supposed to be part time. She was working full-time even after Xmas.

    Jan 28, 2016
  • anon

    With these new categories will former CAA-class employee be able to be reinstated? I was one until it became too difficult to walk 10 miles a day. However, since it was apparent I was not to be offered alternative work, I chose to save my feet. I would have stayed if allowed to transfer positions.

    Oct 20, 2015
  • anon

    I was at first excited to be interviewed for a postal position where I live in Hawaii. I had envisioned a full-time union job with great pay and good benefits and health insurance, retirement, etc. After I was hired, I realized that this doesn't exist anymore, not at the Post Office. This seems to be the trend for the whole country now. Disregard people as real beings that desire to advance their lives and build futures. We are just temporary components of a machine intent on reducing labor costs. I was so disappointed to realize what it means to be a PSE. It meant lower pay, zero benefits, no health insurance, no vacation, no 401k, nothing. Even worse, no guarantee of any hours, but definitely no more than 22 hours per week in any given "normal" week. Forget about working close to home. My average daily commute is 40 miles roundtrip, sometimes 60 miles roundtrip depending on how far they tell you to work. They can't ask you to work more than 50 miles from where you live, but if they could they would do it in a heartbeat. The catch to that rule though...if you already work say 40 miles from home....if they want you to work another shift at another post office 20 miles away, they can get away with it. The only full-time career employees are postmasters. Postmasters are also the ONLY postal employees who will receive holiday pay, no other employees, no matter how long they've been working, will ever get holiday pay. You'll get the time off, but you'll also not get paid. Some postmasters are nice, some are raging psychopaths who have no problem abusing PSE's, threatening and intimidating them, etc. It just gets more and more fun. Customers? Most are great, some are strange. Some give you the creeps and make you want to duck for cover every time you hear their voice. Some will talk down to you like you are the lowest piece of garbage on earth. Overtime? No. You won't even get paid for the REAL time that you work. A lot of postal workers put in hours they never get paid for. There are NO time clocks. You are paid what they want you to be paid, and your time will be what they say your time is, regardless of the real time you come to work and leave work. One of thea worst aspects of being a PSE is that more than likely you'll be doing the work of a full-fledged postmaster, but without the full-time hours, pay, or benefits. You will even be given the title of postmaster/manager, and you will most likely work alone, but you will not get the pay of a full-time postmaster, even though you are doing the exact same thing. This is the life of a PSE. No future, no benefits, long commutes, lots of abuse, and nothing else. Great job right?

    Sep 25, 2015
  • anon

    USPS has done everything possible to not convert pses in The Eagan MN NDC. They have used excess events that would never happen and now they say they want to reduce the employees from 110 or more to 100. even know pses are working 6 days over 50 hours a week and all the regulars are also. They will soon hire more pses and not convert when we are short at least 12 jobs in the clerk area. Its funny how they are quick to get pses to work when one goes but drag everything out for regulars conversion. I don't want to work at USPS anymore as a pse. I have been there for too long as a pse and was told that when so and so retires and so and so leaves you will get converted. Its B.S. and we deserve the right to know either way if they plan to hire us. I have been dragged along like a greyhound chasing a rabbit around the track. And i keep coming to work everyday thinking can it be the day? Pse is one of the worst jobs i have ever had. I just hang in for the reward that was promised and USPS keeps playing games with my life. I dont want to work another X-Mas and X-mas eve for 15$ an hour. Thanksgiving also for that matter. I don't have a choice really! I am a top pse and if i quit I might miss the chance or if I stay USPS can keep me as there lap dog. I took this job at the time i didn't think I was going to stay more than a few months. But they converted many people and thought i am going to made regular soon. Just a few more people gone im in. Nope USPS started to take jobs and eliminate them so they don't have to convert us. I tried talking to the union reps and mdos asking do you think if I went to work as a mha would i get career more quickly. I was told no they have many more workers and it would take 2x the time. Well they have been hiring people with 1 year of service many of them who started way later than me. I cant get any clear answers from anyone at USPS. Does anyone know anything? I don't know what to do and just go to work everyday angry that i cant get a answer. Working over 50 hours a week without agreement should not happen when the answer is simple just convert the jobs that are open. If anyone on here knows any info on USPS conversions let me know please. It shouldn't be a secret because i don't want to work for a place that refuses to compensate the people who deserve it.

    Sep 03, 2015
  • anon

    Postal service clerks greet you at the front desk of the post office & are supposed help accept packages & letters, check envelopes for appropriate postage & sell stamps. In the U.S., approx 73,000 folks do this,earning an avg annual salary of $51,560, or $24.84 an hr. In Fort Mojave, Arizona, almost as much as California teachers with masters degrees. They don't smile & do the least required. Local news is leaking after being confronted with providing the minimal amt of service, followed by the comment, "You two are so lazy," they wanted the 62 Y/O offender, a woman, with cancer, to stand outside while waiting to speak to a supervisor...in 108 degree heat. Incensed the woman decided to wait inside for supes...they called the cops to remove her." Govt can do better...

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    Wow, just took the interview for a PSE position and when I was told it paid only 14.95 plus it was not even a "career" position I was surprised to say the least. Now that I have done a little more research I can see that the job sucks on top of being low paid.

    Feb 27, 2014
  • anon

    To anyone applying for a job with the USPS, please note that when applying for a position that starts off with the letters "PSE." in addition to PSE meaning "Postal Support Employee,"and not being a "career" position, it ALSO means that you are hired on a TEMPORARY basis. After a certain period of time your CONTRACT will be done, then you will be given like 5 days until you are assigned to your next tour, BUT,...BUT that is IF they decide to keep you and reassign you. You are NOT guaranteed work after the initial hire. So if you want a full-time regular position/employment, I would consider the above. There are also websites that you can check out reviews made by former or current employees. The reviews WILL be of great help to you!!! when making the decision as to whether or not you will accept or deny a job offer. IMHO, seeking a FULL-TIME and regular position with a company is much MUCH MUCH MUCH more worth it.

    May 17, 2014
  • anon

    You say that, "These workers will start at a lower hourly wage and will have limited benefits." Is there a clear and predictable career track for these employees? I think that the Postal Service is quality brand and you need to attract quality candidates that will be a credit to the service. In these economic times, perhaps you will find such candidates, but they will likely leave when the economy improves and they find better employment opportunities. I suspect that the workers you find will be lower quality and transient and that's doesn't bode well for the long term.

    Jul 22, 2013
  • anon

    I mentioned some time ago the economic life expectancy of the organization was twelve fiscal quarters. I was wrong. The fact that you have suspended payments to the employee health & welfare and pension obligations has affirmed my prediction. Your organization has become a ward of the multi-trillion dollar deficit in the United States Treasury. God save the Queen.

    Jul 10, 2013
  • anon

    I worked as a casual for over a year an have been a PSE for almost Two years now. I am a trained window clerk as well as filling duties in many other areas of the post office, including postal one, webats, coars, ect. I do not know what is actually listed for PSE duties but I know from experience that I do all that is required from a regular clerk and more from lead clerk duties to close out. I have also been tossed out to deliver mail as a city clerk. I have worked well over 60 hours in a week some work periods an beginning to realize there is no positive outlook to becoming a carreer employee anytime soon, despite all the union an managements tricks to keep ones hopes up just to keep an employee around to fill the void that has been created across the country. This position is nothing more than a glorified casual, that consumes an confines your life to work and work alone. The meager leave you accumulate and the health care that one can’t really afford on a PSE wage, not to mention the thought of undetermined outcome of when or if one will ever be made regular an able to work tward a retirement leaves little for a positive future with the post office. While I do enjoy my work an service for the public, I am currently in school to change my carreer not that this position leaves alot of time for that, it does lock you down. Just wanted to put a thought in from a PSE point of view.

    Jul 10, 2013
  • anon

    Yea I agree been casual for 17 years now pse for two all we doing is beig used as long we stay nothing going change we still get treated like crap im about over it

    Jul 20, 2014
  • anon

    as long as the management ranks stay high nothing will change. the post office is top heavy too many districts, too many areas. too many places for do nothing EAS.

    Jul 10, 2013
  • anon

    Amen to that...What happened to working your way up the ladder so you could understand first hand what specific jobs really entail??

    Oct 23, 2013
  • anon

    Our District hasn’t even started to comply with the contract regarding the use of RCAS to perform clerk work. PSE in our office was let go to allow more work for RCAs. RCAs continue to work on the window in many offices, and are used as hub clerks in many offices. PSE hiring is at the cap, so offices needing PSE help are told no hiring until attrition drops us below the cap. So, rather than moving PSEs to career to allow for more PSEs, more work is shifted to RCAs. Carrer hopes for PSES is just a pipe dream and will result in rapid turnover.

    Jul 10, 2013
  • anon

    Here in the Sacramento District, they are over the cap in both F1 and F4. At the P&DC, the senior MDO has two sons and a daughter working as PSE’s as well as having two of them up as 204-b’s. From my perspective, the way the Sacramento District is doing things, it is costing the USPS more than ever before.

    Jul 10, 2013
  • anon

    My experience is that the Postal Service, true to form, has bastardized the wording of the contract to abuse and misuse these new provisions, for their own convenience. Kentuckiana District has already EXCEEDED the Hiring Caps for the usage of PSE clerks, and regularly utilizes these employees in excess of 8 hours in a service day, to the detriment of available ODL (APWU CBA Art. 8.4.g, 8.5.g). Additionally, hiring opportunities for these PSE positions are poorly advertised. As a result, the quality of applicants has been severely limited. There ARE a few gems, but most of what I see coming in are Young people with little experience, no ambition, (frequently related to Postal Employees, especially Supervisor relations) or the “walking dead” – older folk, who can pass the drug test, but are unprepared to meet the physical demands of the position. Without a significant hope for career employment, treated as second class citizens by Management and Co-Workers alike, most of these PSE employees quickly drop down to the lowest tolerable levels of performance, perpetuating the stereotype of worthlessness. I will come back and shae some thoughts on the misapplication of NTFT rules when I have more time.

    Jul 10, 2013

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