on Aug 31st, 2009 in Labor | 55 comments
The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 included the goal of matching postal employees’ compensation with that of private sector workers. The recently enacted Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) did not alter that goal. However, such a comparison is virtually impossible since private sector compensation varies considerably by locale, whereas postal compensation does not. It is also difficult to decide what constitutes a comparable job, and how benefits should be considered. Given the Postal Service’s financial situation and calls for down-sizing, the issues surrounding this policy take on special meaning. Over the course of the next two weeks, we’d like to ask you about this policy in general, its applicability in the diverse labor market across the country, and what changes might be in order to facilitate the financial situation and the level of service afforded the public.

So, first of all, as a general matter and notwithstanding current contracts, does it make sense to attempt to match private sector compensation? Does the goal in the 1970 legislation still make sense today?

How should Postal Service pay be set? If private-sector comparability is used, what types of jobs are comparable to postal work?

This blog is hosted by the OIG's Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).


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Although the Postal Service is called to operate like a business, it also serves an very important public function (binding the nation, etc.) for which it retains a valuable monopoly. As a result, Postal Service salaries cannot be wholly detached from the public sector. Salaries for both public and private sectors for comparable functions should be considered in setting an appropriate salary, which is sufficiently competitive to attract and retain the best qualified persons for the job.

It is long overdue for Postal Service wages to match prevailing local conditions. Even the rest of the federal government instituted local pay for blue collar positions during the Civil War!

I agree with GG's comment. But both private and public sector employees have salaries that differ by region. what doesn't the Postal Service follow suit. That's the perplexing question.

I could never figure out how someone could afford to live in California, New York, etc while working at the PO. However, I would hate to see low cost areas cut the salaries of the employees.

it's called COLA

Matching the wages and benefits of UPS drivers for letter carriers might be almost fair, although letter carriers have a more difficult job.

Clearly the only jobs even remotely similiar to that of Mailmen is UPS drivers and FedEx drivers. How does the Mailman's pay compare to these? You should put that on your blog.

The people who sort the mail and work the window should get the same as their counterparts at UPS and FedEx.

With what we need to know, I don't see how Window/Distribution clerks should make minimal wages like the ups and fedex clerks. They work 4 hours per day. We work at least 8. The knowledge we have in our heads should mean something.

And we got to remember all them questions too!

Postal employees pay should be in line with that of UPS employees. This is the private sector they should be compared to, not some other lower wage comparisons the Postal Service would like to campare them to. Also, the wages should be uniform as to not discriminate by regions.

Nobody is forced to work in the public sector. the post office can not match the pay of the private sector and I for one, do not think it should try. You know what the pay is up front. I suggest you choose the public job and the pay that goes with it or you go into the private sector. I work for the USPS to the serve the public. If my scheme had been to get rich, I certainly would have gone into the private sector. I do feel sorry for those who work for the USPS and complain,complain, and complain about what they make.

Ive carried mail for 25 years and havent complained about my pay, rural carrier, but when you folks get raises we get mail counts, and our salary goes down, we add new homes our salary goes up, then we get a raise up again, then we get another mail count and we make less than we made years ago, we are treated poorly, and myself and a lot of others always thought it would get better, guess what its still worse! Started working for PO 6 days a week 25 years ago and now working 6 days a week for less pay than a year ago! PO puts in machines and tells us we now get paid one minute for every 27 flats we deliver, funny our time goes down for this, but keeps the city boys working 8 hours a day on 6 hours worth of mail! People need to be treated fairly, and a lot of Postal Managers need stats , whether they are there or not!

I've been a city carrier [city boy] for 25yrs and work 40hrs if not more a week. My question for the poor rural carrier is how many hours a day/week do you work? I am guessing that it doesn't total 40. If they would set up the rural routes like they do city routes there would be no need for half the routes in your station, but what do I know?

Ive worked in offices with city in the past, have gone out with more mail on a longer route than some and finished before you guys, you work at one pace, which is fine, when we are finished we are off for the day you finish to early and your doing someone elses job, about 10 years ago we were short handed had a city boy sort mail on my route, had just bid on it and havent gotten it yet, he was on route for a month, never cased and delivered it but spent 6 hours a day in the office, cut our routes in half FSS is going to do that but not city boys working on any!

So with you on that...People do not realize what it is like driving , delivering mail , packages , & flyers.. Everytime we get one new rule , they brake 2 more...Contract is almost irrelevent.. We do have a good job , but with alot of people who take it for granted.. by means of customer service. Long gone are the days that people HAD to HAVE the post office. I think we're all going to have to give a little.. It's just a matter of how much..That includes the post office.

Either you are a boss or you are a liar...your telling me that you wouldn't want to be paid fairly like ups or fedex (we do more work in a day than they do and get paid less) It's people like you that make a mockery of these kinds of forums!!!!....SHAME on YOU!

I have delivered mail over 30 years. The United Parcel driver who delivers to my home has been with UPS for 9 years. We compared W-2 forms last year, he makes over 20K more than I do with the Postal Service.I think that Postal Service Carriers pay should be raised to match the pay of United Parcel Service drivers, we delivery a lot more stops per day every day.

As a letter carrier in the great lakes region I cannot think of any job that can be compared to ours. With FSS coming in the spring, and a return to a multiple bundle system with longer routes of approx. 7 hours on the street; relays in excess of 30 minutes long; in the elements collating mail in our hands; up and down snow and ice covered streets and stairs... who do you do a wage comparison with???

Mailman are hardworking people, who serve the public regarind rain, snow, or shine. Mailman are consider underpay when you compare the usps mailman to ups driver. Mailman only makes $25 an hour compare to $28 for ups driver. my brother inlaw works for the ups as a driver.

No one seems to have factored in the job security aspect of working in the PO. In the private sector you can be gone tomorrow for no special reason. So, high risk (fired/laid off) should provide a higher potential gain (better $$$). PO employees are spoiled: overpaid and with new technology generally underemployed. NAPUS, NAPS, and all the unions have one thing in common: featherbedding. Sure, we need PMs in N Sutton, S Sutton, E Sutton and W Sutton....NOT!!!! All within 5 miles of each other!!! Gotta love these one person offices...

I believe that it should be comparable to other govt. jobs. Equal to a GS-7 to a GS-11. Regardless of the Cost of living at local areas, I believe that you should match the Federal Sector ONLY.

The fact of the matter is that there is only one pie from which to draw salaries. Why should it be sliced up based on the location of your workplace. We all do the same job...we should receive the same pay. The Postal Service is not going to come up with more money...they will just take it from some and give it to others.

cool, base my salary as a city letter carrier against that of ups, theyre elivery drivers are up to $29.00/hr, while the nalc top pay is at about $26./hr

When discussing pay, the craft employees should not be the only ones brought up. Postal management could be compared to the private sector, also, which would not be a pretty picture. While Postal craft workers could be compared to UPS and FEDEX workers, who are paid more and have better benefits than us, postal supervisors could be compared to managers at fast food places, with salaries in the $20-30,000 range. The Postmaster General, on the other hand, could be compared to a major business CEO, and could be paid millions. Since we are a Federal business, our craft wages are set by negotiated contracts, and the managers are just set accordingly.

The wages should be different depending on region. I work as a level 10 for the USPS and my wages are just above poverty in california. There should be some type of regional compensation.

Don't we have a contract,isn't that how we do business.

I think locality pay is long overdue. Pay what is required in the local markets to get people qualified to do the work required. However, let's get away for this inflated sense of self importance and overly complex position descriptions. The work is pretty routine. If you are a carrier follow the mail and put it in the right box-pretty simple. If you are a clerk, your job is much less complex than a bank teller who makes 50% of what PO clerks make. Most letter carriers and clerks make over 50K - ridiculous!

Bad idea. Are you really going to pay people living in the coldest, worst weather areas less money than their fair weather counterparts?
Sure, the cost of living is lower in say, Wisconsin or Michigan. But they are out braving the worst roads, and walking conditions and cold weather.
They are out when schools are closed and when other businesses are shut down due to snow storms or below zero conditions.
They have to buy more expensive equipment, 4 wheel drive vehicles, while the higher cost of living areas need......air conditioning.
Do you REALLY think they should be paid less when they are out putting their LIVES on the line while the rest of the working population in their area is home, watching the storm from inside the house?

Regional pay is working in other government employees wages and salaries, including our own Military and National Guard. It is about time to pull the Post Office in also.

Yes you are all right the post office should match all the wages of an entity that does exactly what they do, the paper boy, and the garbage man, they are both also into garbage distributation except the garbage man is in the collections, deliver junk, pick up junk i dont get it. buy more equipment to process the trash perhaps a compactor and eliminate the middle man

Other federal agency's recieve locality pay while the USPS does not. That additional money makes a big difference in your pay. I have never understood why the USPS does not offer this to there employee's. Can anyone help me to understand why?

Since Congress and the President seem to want to charge postal employees a higher percentage for health benefits and life insurance "just like all the other federal agencies" then we should be paid General Schedule "just like all the other federal agencies" and we should get locality pay, yearly raises, COLAs, and MetroChek "just like all the other federal agencies." Since we are all aware of the number of postal employees moving over to OIG (and other agencies) and nobody at all moving from OIG (and other agencies) to USPS, it is clear that there is general agreement with my point within both USPS and OIG.

Carrier Pay should be in the ball park of UPS.
General blue collar labor for Mail Handlers and Custodians is really high for my area of the country.
Clerks seem high too.

Postal carrier jobs are comparable with those at FEDEX and UPS as they are similar in nature., thus the pay scale should be similar. Mail processing and mail handler work is less strenuous and it is somewhat difficult to associate a similar job to determine a comparable wage. Administrative jobs should be fairly easy to compare with those at the GS level and pay should be comparable. However, in all cases, area wages should be included.

Area wages should be determined by "buying power" rather than by just a dollar figure. As an example, if it takes 50k a year for postal employees in the mid-West to live in a 3 bedroom house, buy a new car every 5 or 6 years, and take his family on a decent vacation every two years, than that should be their salary. If achieving the same lifestyle in California or New York equates to 80k a year, than that should be the salary in those states.

I agree your opinion!

as a postal employee for many years it would be unfair to anyone to try and change the way the postal employees are compensated for their work. every American had the opportunity to take a civil service test, many did but did not score well enough to get into the postal service. When i took the test and passed high enough to get in, would i have taken the job if i knew down the line my salary would be impacted to match private sector jobs? I could have merely taken a fireman or police test and gotten in.
i live in a high cost of living state so my postal salary is not as great as some may think, if it wasn't for another job and another income i would not be able to afford to live in the state.
i feel bad for many people that are out of work or have low paying jobs, but is that the fault of the postal employee?



Until you been there, done that, why do you put your nose were it doesn't belong?

Besides, management runs the show (and you see how a wonderful job there doing taking care of themselves) and beating up the customer services I hope, not just suck off top of the revenue's, then want to lay-off the workers!

First you have to have people whom know and want to make money, understand transportations, and what vehicles you need vs. some slick salesmen (Telling you what to buy)!
Coming down to the trenches would be a GREAT start and ask the workers, and not by bias employee surveys!
You might not like what you hear..... but you might learn also and get (1) good idea, but I doubt it?
Until you get a PMG like Ross Perot, and dump the board of governors, it will keep going down hill.

Comparable pay should be the norm. Or you will end up with inferior employees. There clearly should be locality pay.

Those on IOD should not be allowed to work overtime. After all they need all the healing time possible.

Just as I thought. The posting of comments on this board are screened, and those not liked although appropriate are removed. Let's see how long this one stays. I posted earlier (it disappeared/was removed), that since the employee opinion survey information was used by postal management in past contract negotiations it seems the OIG is now being used as a tool for management to gain more information. Lets be honest: 1st people knew the wage base when they made their decisions to hire in. 2nd If there is locality pay then Postal Service should continue paying the same rates with future raises however those in higher cost of living areas should be paid more!

ups pay is considerably higher than usps. just thought i'd say something as i saw it on here a couple of times. like ups the usps has a tiered wage system.

As a career city carrier of 25 years, I train all the new carriers that come to our office. All of them say the same thing: "WOW, mail delivery LOOKS EASIER than it really is!!!!"

I challenge ANYONE who questions the pay that we receive to TRY IT.

We have had two adjustments so far this year, and another is coming in October. We have had routes grow from 400 deliveries to 600 deliveries in an 8 hour day due to a reduction in volume.

RRCARRIER, we also feel you pain, and understand, we city carriers are going through what you are going through.

Everyone, no matter where you work are going through tough times and until the U.S. Government realizes that you cannot keep the status quo, I.E., raising taxes, and more government spending, thing are only going to get worse.

Everyone, VOL. II, please stop the in-fighting and focus on where most of our problem are coming from:


It started with Bush 41, and Clinton/Bush 43/Obama are all guilty of carrying the torch on and on.

VOTE VOTE VOTE!!! Do not forget what we are going through right now. Do whatever you have to do to remember how you feel right now, and VOTE in Nov. of 2010.

The only place that an increase in un-employment is a good thing is in Washington D.C.!!!

Godspeed everyone and God bless the USA!!!!!!!!!

Postal workers are overpaid paperboys. American public is finally figuring that out.

Wage uniformity. Funny how we try to copy communist countries!

pay should not be associated with location. we are free to live and work where we please. if there needs to be a change in pay structure it whould be based on productivity and work standards (which the unions oppose)

In response to Mark referring to Postal Carriers as "overpaid paperboys", I ask him to consider the differences between the two. I've been both a paperboy and now a Postal Carrier (Rural Carrier). As a paperboy, you only have one type of piece to deliver, must both collect funds and pay for their papers they deliver. But keep in mind, it's only one piece and doesn't need to worry about address labels or names when making deliveries. The mail carrier has multiple types of mail pieces to deliver (letters, flats or magazines, small and large parcels in many different shapes and sizes), must consider names, locations, handle accountable mail with scanning issues (insured, signature confirmations, registered, and international delivery confirmations, etc.), adhere to postal delivery regulations, safety and security procedures, and do all that in all types of weather conditions. Shall I go on? Mail carriers equal to glorified paperboys....I don't think so.

The question is irrelevant. Postal Employees work under a collective bargaining agreement. Their salaries are negotiated and if no agreement is reached than binding arbitration comes into play. At the arbitration, both parties present evidence to support their positions concerning salary rates, benefits, etc. The arbitrator's decision is based on his/her interpretaion of this evidence which includes data of wages in the private sector as presented by both parties. I consider it highly illogical and irresponsible to base wages and benefits on public opinion. Do you think doctors should make as much? What about lawyers? Politicians in general, etc? We already have a fair and practical process to determine postal wages. I think it should remain this way.

The craft wages are set by a negotiated contract. End of story. UPS and FedEx are not required to deliver to every address in the country. No comparison needed. I find this blog one of the worst cases of fraud waste and abuse in the Postal Service. Who do report this to? OIG should stick to investigating criminals and leave this VOE like survey nonsense for Postal Management. No wonder everyone things the OIG is sleeping in the same bed as management.