Toledo Talk

Postal service asks Congress to allow 120,000 layoffs by 2015

Given the frequent lively debate on TT about the postal service, I thought I'd share this article.

The USPS states that it needs to cut 30% of its workforce (220,000 jobs) by 2015, and that they only expect 100,000 to be reduced by attrition. The remaining 120,000 position reductions will need to come through layoffs.

They are also looking to overhaul benefits.

Full article here:

http://money.cnn.com/2011/08/11/news/economy/postal_service_layoffs/index.htm

created by mom2 on Aug 12, 2011 at 09:19:45 am     Business     Comments: 84

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Comments ... #

Why not just raise the price of a stamp to 2.34?

posted by Linecrosser on Aug 12, 2011 at 09:28:50 am     #   2 people liked this

Linecrosser posted at 09:28:50 AM on Aug 12, 2011:

Why not just raise the price of a stamp to 2.34?

Because they don't want to show the American public what their real cost are.

posted by dbw8906 on Aug 12, 2011 at 09:38:46 am     #  

my bro in law had 29 years in and they pretty much forced him to retire early. He doesn't get his full pension but the alternative was to move to Cinci for retraining and NOT be guaranteed a job and if he did that and didn't get another position, he would lose everything. no brainer. the writing was on the wall as soon as the internet was born and, I admit, I'm part of the problem. all my important mail is electronic now.

posted by nana on Aug 12, 2011 at 10:09:03 am     #   2 people liked this

Isn't the post office explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution?

It should be treated a service not a business.

posted by SensorG on Aug 12, 2011 at 10:14:19 am     #   2 people liked this

Don't point that one out to the tea drinkers SensorG, they are too busy defending the Constitution from all from these government workers who are milking the system.

posted by brainswell on Aug 12, 2011 at 10:40:32 am     #  

So I guess you also don't favor trimming the military budget because it's outlined in the Constitution? Lot's of "little people" are employed and received funding from the Military, but they don't count cause they are not in a Union right? Hell lets just hand the money around, we got plenty.

I guess wasteful spending isn't wasteful spending if there is a card check.

posted by dbw8906 on Aug 12, 2011 at 10:52:07 am     #  

I'm not saying they don't need to downsize. They need to downsize because less mail is being sent, not because the political and corporate climate of the country doesn't like union employees and pension plans. God forbid our government actually lives up to contracts it agreed to with its own employees.

Some simple math says that if the PO loses 4 billion a year, it is still only 16% of what has been spent on average per year on the wars. But I actually receive a benefit from the PO, unlike our wars of aggression based on a non-sustainable energy policy.

posted by brainswell on Aug 12, 2011 at 11:18:56 am     #   1 person liked this

as the population and the demand for mail service increased thru the years, didnt the post office increase in size accordingly?

so in times of decreased demand, wouldnt it naturally decrease in size? the constitution says the govt should see to the delivery of the mail. but it is also responsible to get it delivered in the most efficient manner possible. That doesnt mean the gov'ts job is to creat busywork jobs. If it can deliver the mail at the level that's needed and do so with fewer people, they should do that.

the government's job isnt to create jobs.

posted by billy on Aug 12, 2011 at 12:31:28 pm     #   3 people liked this

According to the news this morning, they are facing an 8 billion dollar deficit. Yes, Billion.

Gee, did they see that coming or was it a complete surprise? Whether it's a service or run as a business, I can't imagine waking up one day and realizing that you're 8 billion behind budget.

They should have taken action before this to meet their budget. This is just poor supervision and management.

posted by hockeyfan on Aug 12, 2011 at 12:59:38 pm     #   1 person liked this

You realize they have been losing billions for years right? This is nothing new.

posted by JustaSooner on Aug 12, 2011 at 09:51:35 pm     #  

I do not know my history that well but I would think the Pony Express fizzled shortly after the telegraph was established and hopefully generation after generation did not endur the cost of keeping up the allusion that riding around on horseback delivering mail weeks after being sent was still a valkuable service. (research required but too tired to look)

Synergies... get creative. I'd love to see the mail delivered weekly by the same people that pick up the garbage. I know, I know... sounds like the same mad rantings we heard from a mayor that wanted to move the deaf people out near the runways. I've opted out of junk mail years ago and do about everything on line anyways. If it comes in the mail it's not important.

Seriously though... get creative.

posted by Danneskjold on Aug 12, 2011 at 11:45:58 pm     #  

nana posted at 10:09:03 AM on Aug 12, 2011:

my bro in law had 29 years in and they pretty much forced him to retire early. He doesn't get his full pension but the alternative was to move to Cinci for retraining and NOT be guaranteed a job and if he did that and didn't get another position, he would lose everything. no brainer. the writing was on the wall as soon as the internet was born and, I admit, I'm part of the problem. all my important mail is electronic now.

Part of the "problem?"

The internet is a problem? You're part of progress and advancement. The USPS is an inefficient and outdated dinosaur.

posted by BusterBluth on Aug 13, 2011 at 04:43:51 am     #  

I don't want to see any Postal worker lose pay or benes, just sell your product at a cost that will support your operations.

posted by dbw8906 on Aug 13, 2011 at 07:24:38 am     #  

The post office is a service mandated by the US Constitution, not a business. While it should be expected to operate efficiently, it shouldn't be expected to make money.

I don't expect the US military to make money...

posted by SensorG on Aug 13, 2011 at 07:33:02 am     #   2 people liked this

The U.S. Postal Service is going to have to reinvent itself in some way now that the Internet is replacing it. Looks like we're on our way to technology replacing humans. We've been going that route for a while now, i.e., voice mail. Aldous Huxley's "Brave New Word," written in 1931, is becoming more and more relevant. Taken to its extreme, all aspects of our lives, including individuality, will be replaced by technology. Kinda scary.

posted by bikerdude on Aug 13, 2011 at 08:54:20 am     #  

Please stop comparing the military to the post office. They aren't even close in the services they provide. But, if you want to allow servicemen to deliver mail once they return to the states after serving, sign me up.

PS-to those who stated how hard delivering mail is and how many of us couldn't do it. I wish I had my camera yesterday as I encountered what looked like contestants from "Biggest Loser" delivering mail.

posted by hockeyfan on Aug 13, 2011 at 10:16:11 am     #  

Just because it's "constitutionally mandated" does not mean taxpayers are constitutionally mandated to continually absorb multiple billions in losses every single year.

If you are going to rely on "constitutionally mandated" as the rationale for continuing things the way they are, where is the pressure to reform anything? Nobody is saying make a profit--just break even...

posted by oldhometown on Aug 13, 2011 at 10:24:54 am     #   1 person liked this

In addition to the previous post:

If you read some of the dialouge of the Constitutional Convention, the PO was established not only to greatly ease official communication between the states and the communication between our population, but also to be a source of revenue for the government.

At this point, I'd still take "just break even" and not care about additional revenue. But that looks to be impossible.

posted by oldhometown on Aug 13, 2011 at 10:39:26 am     #   1 person liked this

"If you are going to rely on "constitutionally mandated" as the rationale for continuing things the way they are, where is the pressure to reform anything?"

Apply that to the Second Amendment. What with all the lives lost these days from gun violence it seems some kind of refom might be justified there.

Let the USPS deliver the mail, as "constituionally mandated", but also let it adapt to the market by changes in technology and efficiency. Efficiency means job losses - no other way around it. I've lately had to comparison shop mailing/shipping small parcels. The new USPS flat rate "if it fits it ships" costs are nearly 1/3 higher than Fed Ex or UPS for idenitical weights/sizes.

As for the idea that the government should NOT be in the job creation business, well then who? The so called "job creators" that the R's try so hard to protect from taxation and to whom they hand over generous subsidies? Arent they the same ones that ship thousands of jobs overseas?

posted by holland on Aug 13, 2011 at 02:24:24 pm     #  

bikerdude posted at 08:54:20 AM on Aug 13, 2011:

The U.S. Postal Service is going to have to reinvent itself in some way now that the Internet is replacing it. Looks like we're on our way to technology replacing humans. We've been going that route for a while now, i.e., voice mail. Aldous Huxley's "Brave New Word," written in 1931, is becoming more and more relevant. Taken to its extreme, all aspects of our lives, including individuality, will be replaced by technology. Kinda scary.

Well it's following very closely what Karl Marx (GASP!!!) says on the subject too. Technology advances and replaces the need for workers.

In the nineteenth century it was agriculture and textiles. In the twentieth century it was manufacturing. Today we are seeing it happen with education as class sizes will increase with the dawn of online classes and supplemental programs.

Not saying it's a good or bad thing. I'm no Communist, or even a Democrat, but Marx spoke the truth. The internet has relegate the USPS to worthlessness.

posted by BusterBluth on Aug 13, 2011 at 02:30:52 pm     #   1 person liked this

USPS should propose large pay reductions in lieu of all the cost cutting via layoffs. Of course very few want to recognize that these people are overpaid. Colas and pay raises have distorted their cost structure. While most others were making less, if they even had a job, these folks were all along getting raises.

posted by 6th_Floor on Aug 13, 2011 at 08:24:10 pm     #  

6th Floor - I'm curious about postal workers salaries, raises etc. Have you any data from a reliable source that you can share?

posted by holland on Aug 13, 2011 at 11:31:38 pm     #  

Here's what I found from the American Postal Workers website,
http://www.apwu.org/news/burrus/2007/update02-2007-012607-chart.pdf. Here is a more general view, http://www.apwu.org/dept/ind-rel/irpayinfo.htm. What I think about sometimes is what will happen to future retirees (both governmental and private) who are now required to fund their retirements through defined contribution plans as opposed to relying on a defined entitlements plan. it is a shame, but I think I probably have the best retirement that I could receive under the circumstances, and that future retirees will be living hand-to-mouth. The majority of their retirement will come from the contributions they make to an increasing volatile stock market or bond system. My brother (who started 27 years after I did) is under FERS. In addition to finding the money to raise four (now three boys) he also has to make contributions to his retirement plan that hopefully will add to his social security. I think much of the population of this country is facing a disaster of unprecedented proportions. We better get used to the fact that our future average life expectancy will be less than that of the current generation. They will not be able to afford to live as long as we did.

posted by oldsendbrdy on Aug 14, 2011 at 10:56:28 am     #   1 person liked this

I note that the links above don't seem to lead anywhere. You may have to paste to the browser. Hopefully this one works, http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=United_States_Postal_Worker_(Mail_Processing_Clerk)/Salary.

posted by oldsendbrdy on Aug 14, 2011 at 11:18:22 am     #  

holland, usps employees that process and carry mail have the real perks via vacation, sick time, holidays.

I personally know guys working downtown that are making 85-90k (not even factoring benefits) a year processing mail.

Of course those guys are there 60-70 hours a week and that's part of the problem. If usps didn't have to spend money on things like vacation, sick time, holidays, and other benefits they would hire additional employees.

Cutting Saturday mail delivery would end a lot of the built-in overtime for carriers. This should have been done a long time ago.

It's only my opinion, but with so many people unemployed today, I completely disagree with people doing unskilled work receiving this type of pay and benefits. These jobs could be staffed at half the current costs and usps would have at least 100 applicants for every opening.

The solution is very simple. When the current labor contracts expire, usps needs to implement pay reductions and trim the amount of annual leave and sick days. They have no layoff clauses for some employees, but they also have no strike clauses as well.

All these things like automatic, annual, cost-of-living-allowance raises, have created a situation where postal employees are grossly higher paid compared to similar private sector positions.

Usps can only cut so much of the service. Imo it's time for them to reduce their operating costs via reducing their hourly labor costs. I'm already indirectly paying more for postage and so is everyone else nearby. For they removed the pick-up boxes from my neighborhood. This has happened in neighborhoods throughout the country. I now have to drive to an actual office to mail letters. I realize I can clip them to the mailbox for outgoing, but I don't like leaving important documents available for a passerby to easily steal.

posted by 6th_Floor on Aug 14, 2011 at 01:58:32 pm     #   2 people liked this

Is it also mandated in the Constitution that postal employees receive cola increases and paid wages and benefits at least 2x the market rate for similar work?

posted by 6th_Floor on Aug 14, 2011 at 02:09:58 pm     #  

From what you describe 6th Floor and from the link provided by oldsendbrdy I don't find the wages all that exorbitent. At the top end of your scale, $90k for 70hr wk, it comes out to slightly less than $25.00 hr. Add medical benefits and its certainly a decent wage. If you don't die of exhaustion. Vacation, sick pay and Holidays are not, in my view, unusual perks. Some holidays are Federally mandated to all labor.

If you look at the lowest end of the wage range provided by Oldsendbrdy, its just about $18.00 hr. Not poverty level by any means but pretty tight if you have a mortgage, car payment and maybe saving for kids for college. BTW a family member gets COLA for a public pension they receive. The last one amounted to a raise of $2.79 month.

posted by holland on Aug 14, 2011 at 03:01:37 pm     #   1 person liked this

Holland, there isn't a single employee at usps that is going to die of exhaustion working 70 hours a week. Most just pace themselves, so in the end usps isn't getting much output from the extra hours. If usps had any sense at all it wouldn't work anyone more than 50 hours per week for any length of time.

It's mostly mailhandlers working the long hours as their contract is different than carriers and clerks. It may have changed but most other employees are paid double time after either 56 or 60 hours. Mailhandlers are paid 1.5x for all hours worked beyond 40 and they don't get double time.

I don't know how their current contracts are structured, but hourly workers receive cola every few months added to their hourly wage. It is rolled into their hourly salary. The pension aspect you are posting about is completely different than what I have mentioned. These types of cost increases quickly add up to billions when you are giving them to a several hundred thousand employees.

Another perk usps employees enjoy is the thrift savings plan. That's another several thousand they receive if they decide to take advantage of the perk.

I'm sure the 700 bax employees who are laid off sure wouldn't think $18-25 per hour is poverty either. What type of pay did they get? $12-14 per hour? Did they get anything remotely close to a pension and/or 10 weeks paid time off per year? I doubt it.

Again, when you add in 10 weeks of paid time off per year and a pension, working the mail is a great job. Especially considering it's a job just about any high school dropout could perform.

I like discussing this, but it really doesn't matter to me what usps does. The solution imo is simple...instead of cutting too many services while charging the same or even higher postage prices, they should reduce the wages and benefits to effectively operate their business.

I maybe send one letter per week now via snail mail. If I need to mail something overnight, I send it fedex. A few of my bills now arrive electronically, and with all this crying by usps about revenue and overpaid unions crying about layoffs, I may try to altogether eliminate paper mail at my house.

posted by 6th_Floor on Aug 14, 2011 at 04:24:40 pm     #   3 people liked this

With all due respect 6th floor is there any public data that supports your figures?

posted by holland on Aug 14, 2011 at 05:44:43 pm     #  

I would think the Internet helped the postal service. Granted email has cut down on your average letters. But the internet is also why so many people say "yea? I can get it cheaper online". All that stuff has to get home some how :)

posted by INeedCoffee on Aug 14, 2011 at 07:01:27 pm     #  

LOL Holland, if information coming from no less than a dozen dozen close contacts that work there telling me what certain people were paid last year isn't good enough for you, other than the below link, please use google or other methods to find further clarification.

Although it's rare, there are a few workers that have worked so many hours at the St. Clair St. post office, their gross pay was greater than 100k.

http://www.postalemployeenetwork.com/usps-benefits-info.htm

The bax hourly pay data came from tb.com when they announced the place was leaving Toledo.

posted by 6th_Floor on Aug 14, 2011 at 07:38:14 pm     #  

http://www.npmhu.org/Pubs/MailHandler/2009/Fall%202009/56668.p19.pdf

http://www.npmhu.org/Resource/Agreement/AGMNT.HTM

Article 6 and 18 clarify the no layoff and no strike clauses. The no layoff clause applies to employees with more than six years of service.

With the current mailhandlers pay scale, someone in the higher wage steps working 60 hours a week (really not very unusual) would gross 85-90k a year.

As I earlier posted, carriers, clerks, maintenance, etc all have their own contracts.

It looks like a cola installment was added March 2011 and the next will be September 2011.

http://www.npmhu.org/Pubs/UPDATE/2011/up110303.asp

$38 per hour at top step for overtime. LOL

posted by 6th_Floor on Aug 14, 2011 at 08:11:51 pm     #  

I found the APWU agreement just signed. New hires (part time flexibles) will start at $16.55 if they still start as Grade 5 clerks. It could be as low as
$12.83 if they start as Level 3. All Clerks used to start as Level 5 but things may have changed. Here is the link for the contract which shows the pay scales, http://www.scribd.com/doc/56442412/APWU-Contract-2010-2015-Corrected-5-26-2011

posted by oldsendbrdy on Aug 14, 2011 at 09:08:50 pm     #  

I worked for the Postal Service for over 34 years. My top time off was 26 days a year (5 weeks and a day). Contractually, you were allowed three weeks during the choice period (we managed to negotiate 26 weeks during the year). If we had negotiated the whole year as the choice period (which many people wanted), then contractually Management could have refused to allow us to use the other two weeks and a day. That happened to an office in Texas. You can "save" the leave, but Management is not required to allow you to use it if your membership signs such a contract. You can use sick leave but to get an additional five weeks off a year for that you better show you have a major illness. That great benefit is for use if you have cancer or something like that. You "earn" 13 days a year sick leave; you can use some of it to take care of sickness in your immediate family (Family Medical Leave Act). I hardly ever used sick leave. I was covered by Civil Service so I cashed mine in (over a year's worth) which was added to my service for retirement. I had planned on getting all kinds of things taken care of the last year, but I was needed at home to take care of my father. I later found I had Type II diabetes.

posted by oldsendbrdy on Aug 14, 2011 at 09:24:32 pm     #  

This is way overdue. The mail service should be cut to 3 times a week also. Get rid of the bulk mail and raise the postage where it covers the cost. If they lose customers, dump some more people. Maybe it'll fade away in 20 years or so.

posted by AmericanPie on Aug 14, 2011 at 09:48:40 pm     #  

6th floor, were did you get 10 weeks off per year? At maximum, after 15 years, a full-time employees gets 208 hours (26 days) off per year. A "non-pay" status cuts that eligibility. He/she gets 104 hours (13 8-hour days) of sick leave. He can use a portion of that for himself or a family member under Family Medical Leave Act. Since we have such liberal benefits we also have strict rules to cut down on misuse. I cannot be disciplined for using sick leave but can be removed from the service for "failure to maintain a proper work schedule". If I took Monday off for illness, came to work Tuesday, got sick again on Wednesday, and came back to work Thursday, I am likely to be "written up" for two instances of sick leave in a short period of time. It makes more sense to take three days off rather than risk discipline (even if it leaves your unit short-handed). There are not supposed to be "set standards" but people usually get written up if they take more than three separate instances of sick leave a year. You are better off taking 60 or 90 days for a bout of cancer rather than have a couple of cases of the flu during the winter.
Also, you're better off going to the doctor for anything. If you return to work after more than three days you had better have a doctor's excuse or they will require you to go to a doctor to get one. Many people have gotten in trouble because they could not get a "doctor's excuse" because he could not find anything wrong them after they went back to work, and he was not willing to risk violating federal law writing an employee as sick when he could not find anything wrong. Staying home to care for a family member has its own liabilities. You better make a trip to the doctor with the kid rather than let him/her rest in bed. After you have worked for the Postal Service more than 10 years you are a "liability". They have to consider those benefits (such as retirement) you will draw in a couple of decades or less. You can get away with a lot more at the beginning of your postal career than you can at the end. An employee is like a piece of shit paper, something to be used and thrown away.

posted by oldsendbrdy on Aug 14, 2011 at 10:43:11 pm     #  

I am still laughing at the post above.
26 days a year off? 13 days of sick leave? Wow, how do you make it into work for the remainder of the year? Please allow me to split my gut by telling me what the base pay is for those 15 years and the benefits too.

Then you give an example of missing monday, working tues, missing weds, and then working thurs can get you written up. In my work world we call it getting fired. Besides, who ever gets a "couple of cases of flu during the winter"?

So where and when are these "slave" jobs gonna be available again? I'd like to save my house so sign me up now.

posted by hockeyfan on Aug 15, 2011 at 12:26:35 am     #   1 person liked this

oldsendbrdy, I guess you aren't counting the ten paid holidays each year as paid time off?

Using a 5 day work week, which is what a work week is at usps.

15 year + employees receive:

26 vacation days.

13 sick days.

10 paid holidays.

Using math I know = 49 paid days off each year.

I'm sorry it falls just a bit short of 10 full weeks paid time off each year.

It's merely 9.8 weeks.

All employees starting their 3rd through 15th year receive a total of 43 paid days off per year. That's 8.6 weeks.

With the advent of fmla, there isn't much any postal supervisor can do regarding people using their sick time.

posted by 6th_Floor on Aug 15, 2011 at 03:36:55 am     #  

I forgot to mention, oh the agony of employees working years 0,1 & 2. They ONLY get 33 paid days off each year.

6.6 weeks paid time off each year. ROFLMAO. If they don't die from exhaustion during their first few years, it's still a tough job, but I'm told a person adapts.

posted by 6th_Floor on Aug 15, 2011 at 03:50:48 am     #   1 person liked this

my husband is in his 6th year at the po - to this date has only been allowed to take 1 week of vacation. as far as sick time, you better be on your death bed before you call off. just because it says you have "x" days does not mean you are allowed to take them.

posted by ajm00733 on Aug 15, 2011 at 08:45:38 am     #  

With the advent of fmla, there isn't much any postal supervisor can do regarding people using their sick time.

That's not entirely true. FMLA doesn't protect in all circumstances.

A few years ago, I was forced to choose between my sick child and my job with a major local employer.

(Mind you, I was a good employee and had just received an award for being one of the top 3 in my department for the prior quarter. Its not like they were coming up with an excuse to weed out a bad seed.)

My child was very ill, but her illness didn't fall under the provisions of FMLA because it was only short term.

My boss told me that I had to decide which was more important - my job or caring for my child. Guess which option I picked?

(Side note - since then, I have built a pretty nice career with one of their competitors. I'm sure they'd love to have me back, but too bad so sad.)

posted by mom2 on Aug 15, 2011 at 09:36:42 am     #   1 person liked this

I do not believe in [paid sick time].

There is not a person I know who would hire a person to mow their lawn and if that person could not make it due to family issues or illness pay that person for the day they were ill AND the day they mowed the lawn. Why would I expect my employer to do so?

If a person can't make it to work due to illness or child issues that is completely understandable - but they did not "work" nor produce so they should not earn. If a person has a personal life that generally requires a lot of time away from work such as sick children, parents etc they should use their vacation time for that purpose.

The whole concept of paid sick time is rediculous.

posted by Danneskjold on Aug 15, 2011 at 11:07:11 am     #   2 people liked this

ajm00733,

That's odd, for the vacation list is passed around every year and people sign up for weeks they have. I believe there are limits to amounts of vacation someone can use during certain months. Having dealt with the po for many years, I simply do not believe he has only been allowed to use 1 week vacation time in 6 years As far as sick leave, my advice for him is to use fmla.

Mom2, fmla at the po is widely abused. Really all someone has to do is have a dr sign a form saying they, a spouse, or dependent child has a condition that's chronic and dial the phone to use sick leave. The supervisors may get tough and try to bitch about it, but it's merely words. In a unionized environment such as po, that's about all they can do.

posted by 6th_Floor on Aug 15, 2011 at 11:49:58 am     #  

6th floor: You seem to think that everyone should takr a cut in pay. Maybe you should takr a large poay cut and see how you like it.

posted by deere1 on Aug 15, 2011 at 11:50:55 am     #  

ajm00733,

Would you mind sharing the office where your husband works. Also, I'd like to know his position there. Carrier, clerk, or something else?

posted by 6th_Floor on Aug 15, 2011 at 11:51:18 am     #  

deere1, how else do you propose the po cut an 8 billion deficit? Pay raises for everyone and higher postage prices? How about giving all the employees a few more weeks paid vacation? Those will be great ideas as they will only push more people away from using the service.

The market has been handing out pay cuts (if they even have jobs) to the rank and file workers in the private sector for years. None of them really liked it, but it happened anyway.

posted by 6th_Floor on Aug 15, 2011 at 12:00:56 pm     #  

Danneskjold posted at 11:07:11 AM on Aug 15, 2011:

I do not believe in [paid sick time].

There is not a person I know who would hire a person to mow their lawn and if that person could not make it due to family issues or illness pay that person for the day they were ill AND the day they mowed the lawn. Why would I expect my employer to do so?

If a person can't make it to work due to illness or child issues that is completely understandable - but they did not "work" nor produce so they should not earn. If a person has a personal life that generally requires a lot of time away from work such as sick children, parents etc they should use their vacation time for that purpose.

The whole concept of paid sick time is rediculous.

While you may not agree with it, companies do so to retain good employees. I'm as fiscal hawk as they get but I'm not going to put my employee in a hardship position financially if they get the sniffles and need a day. Sure it might save me a couple of bucks but if a revenue generating employee walks out the door over a couple of days worth of pay, it's cutting off the nose to spite the face. I would rather eat the sick time pay of a good employee than roll the dice on bringing in someone new.

posted by dbw8906 on Aug 15, 2011 at 12:10:17 pm     #   3 people liked this

I guess I should have clearly defined that 1 week this year - not in all years combined. Sorry for the confusion

posted by ajm00733 on Aug 15, 2011 at 12:27:34 pm     #  

6th_floor, I forgot about the holidays, but then again we were only allowed to get Christmas off at the Main Office for sure. Management instituted a policy about 15 years ago that used what they called "working holidays". A few people in a section might be let off, but the rest were required to work. Those days were used to catch up on the mail that was sitting out on the dock. We got paid for it, but we (I was a steward) had a hard time swallowing the concept of a "working holiday". Could never find it anywhere in the contract. We would come into work, and then around 9:00 PM Management would start asking if people wanted to go home. Just sign a leave slip (use some of your vacation time), and spend the rest of the evening of Martin Luther King Day at home. I usually volunteered to work the holidays since I had no kids, and let some younger person off with their family. I always stayed to the end (stuck it to them for forcing me in) and listened to their complaints about not having enough work.

posted by oldsendbrdy on Aug 15, 2011 at 01:18:28 pm     #  

I agree the workers at individual neighborhood stations and carriers enjoy the holidays much more than the processing center. Although the carriers have extra mail to carry for several days following the holiday. Nevertheless, the workers forced to work holidays are paid to work those days.

posted by 6th_Floor on Aug 15, 2011 at 01:34:52 pm     #  

dbw, I agree with retention and award. My personal tangent goes in a different direction which is that the paid time off is generally across the board based on years of service - not on working habits. Part of what I would consider criteria for a good, productive employee is a person who shows up consistantly day after day. Because paid sick time is generally open to all I think it devalues what should be part of a more productive workers wage consideration.
From my experience most of the cases where people would show up vs the people who would not show up boiled down to personal health habits and ones ability to manage their own lives and personal relationships after hours (and not wind up in jail on domestic issues, drinking issues etc) Notice, I carefully used the phrase "Most of the cases." There is a seperation between unforseen instances such as very ill children, or truly devestating life circumstances.

In reference to children - I do not think it is a choice between career and job. I think when an individual makes a choice to have children they commit to many years of sacrafice (which also has it's rewards) However, that sacrafice should not be [required] of their co-workers to fill in and do extra work. Just as I do not feel an obligation to continually pay for children I did not have in the form of public assistance.

posted by Danneskjold on Aug 15, 2011 at 02:17:35 pm     #  

DJ if someone is a poopy worker, you can tell long before they begin to rack up the sick time. Fire them for being a poopy worker, not for being a poopy worker with the sniffles.

posted by dbw8906 on Aug 15, 2011 at 02:27:45 pm     #  

The Toledo processing center still has it's fingers crossed. Bad news for workers in Roanoke, Virginia.

500 jobs down the tubes.

I still don't know why usps doesn't instead consider cutting the pay of employees.

http://www.roanoke.com/news/breaking/wb/305237

posted by 6th_Floor on Feb 23, 2012 at 12:51:15 am     #  

Raising the cost of postage will not help the USPO. they are in a death spiral with really no way out. Free e-mail has taken the place of a lot of mail already and as mailing costs go up peoples willingness to use snail mail declines. Not only is snail mail expensive, it is slow. Fewer and fewer things require snail mail delivery, I can pay most of my bails on line, I look at catalogs on line, I do business and personal correspondence through e-mail and social networking sites. Even most my magazines are by e-subscription now. Packages are one of the few things that I absolutely need delivered (long live amazon)but the post office is inefficient and too expensive for most package delivery and it is the one area that the USPO actually has direct competition. USPO needs to plot their exit strategy.

posted by roygbiv on Feb 23, 2012 at 09:47:13 am     #   1 person liked this

Funding the retirement pensions for 75 years out is having a large effect on them as well.

posted by Linecrosser on Feb 23, 2012 at 11:21:28 am     #  

Universal service to all is guaranteed in the Constitution. That includes all the rural areas in this country.

Some years back Congress made the post office fund retirement for decades out. That is ridiculous and is what has cost the post office to lose money.

Some of us older folks do not use the internet to pay bills or have automatic withdrawal of payments. We need mail, delivered in an orderly fashion, to continue.

As I worked during a time of no vacations, no sick days, no personal days I do not want to see this country go back there. Good God this is the 21st century!

posted by jackie on Feb 23, 2012 at 12:35:36 pm     #  

As I worked during a time of no vacations, no sick days, no personal days I do not want to see this country go back there.

Where did you work? Did you know Charles Dickens or Upton Sinclair? :)

I don't think "no vacations" has been a national policy for quite some time in the vast majority of professions.

Yes, the PO is in the Constitution. Yes, it is still important. However...NO...the taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook for billions in losses every single year. It's mandate (not request, mandate) is to break even over time (National Letter Carriers Union website). It's not even close.

As I stated either in this PO thread or another, Congress needs to deal with this sooner rather than later. However, being a controversial topic, Congress would rather fart around and stall any business restructuring necessary because it would hurt "their" district or "their" constituents.

My earlier solution was for the Postmaster General to announce that first class stamps would rise to $1 or $2 starting ______ and watch the crap fly. Then, when called before Congress, he could point to a big chart that says "we lost $10 billion last year and had no help from you in resolving this pre-fund pension thing that is killing us more than the Internet. Here's what we need you to do...sooooooo....WTF are YOU GUYS going to do?"

posted by oldhometown on Feb 23, 2012 at 12:52:44 pm     #  

"Its" mandate, not "It's". Sorry.

posted by oldhometown on Feb 23, 2012 at 12:53:20 pm     #  

"Good God this is the 21st century!" - You say that like the 21st century has been anything more than wars, threats of wars, Liberty slipping away around the world, and world wide financial instability.

Wouldn't rep the 21st Century all that hard.

posted by dbw8906 on Feb 23, 2012 at 01:46:21 pm     #  

The pension mandate is only part of the problem, because if you remove that payment they are still losing money. And it was the postal union that lobbied congress to pass the bill requiring the pre-funding. Wonder why - maybe the union has been concerned about the long- term sustainability of the PO for a while.

While universal service may be required, six days a week isn't. Adjust the service level to the need so thy can become solvent again.

posted by MrsArcher on Feb 23, 2012 at 01:50:41 pm     #  

Adjust the service level...agreed. Eliminate Saturday delivery, and perhaps one weekday such as Wednesday. The typical credit card bill provides a 21 day window for payment, so ample time to process. Could even cut back the post office weekday hours as well, but keep Saturday for the working fols who cannot get there during the week

posted by Hoops on Feb 23, 2012 at 02:51:41 pm     #   1 person liked this

The constitution gave Congress the ability to establish post offices and post roads. Originally this meant just that - roads and buildings, with delivery between them. Delivery to your house, commemorative stamps, and all of the other services came later. During the earliest debates over what "establish" meant, people like Thomas Jefferson were concerned that by doing too much the postal office would become a waste of money. John Jay believed that it would be an undue burden on the postal office to deliver newspapers.

posted by taliesin52 on Feb 23, 2012 at 03:57:33 pm     #  

Gee folks I not quite as old as Methuselah. Just feel that way some days.

In the early l950's I worked for a major utility downtown. There were no paid sick days, no paid personal days, no days off with pay when my father-in-law died, etc. Vacation was very sparse and it took years to get to 2 weeks. I then went to work after my first child was born at a major jewelry wholesaler in downtown area. There we did not get paid vacation along with none of the other benefits.

By the way I never belonged to an union in my life but I think unions brought about vacations, sick days, benefits, etc. It forced other employers to do the same to keep good employees.

I personally do not want to go back in anyway to those times. I want this country to move forward and succeed.

posted by jackie on Feb 23, 2012 at 09:44:44 pm     #   2 people liked this

so, are we to assume that if unions went away, all employers would not provide sick days, vacations, health benefits, and other "rights"?

I find that very hard to believe. Many companies offer these things to keep the union out of their business. Have you ever heard of a union negotiating for just a pay raise? No. Why? Because it's always a case of more, more, more.

posted by hockeyfan on Feb 23, 2012 at 10:15:54 pm     #   1 person liked this

It's real simple. The people working there are being paid too much.

Reduce the benefits and pay of the workforce.

The end.

posted by 6th_Floor on Feb 23, 2012 at 11:25:49 pm     #  

Afraid I agree, take less or take nothing.

posted by Linecrosser on Feb 24, 2012 at 02:29:58 am     #  

HF

I do not believe your second paragraph was true in the 50's and 60's. Jobs were plentiful in those days. I only had a high school education at that time and was always able to find good paying jobs. Made more than my husband who was a school teacher.

Times have changed no doubt. But why are there those who always want people to take drastic pay cuts, give up benefits, and especially lose their jobs. Do not we all suffer when that happens? When the economy is not healthy everyone suffers in one way or another. Look at the value of your home today!

posted by jackie on Feb 24, 2012 at 01:28:16 pm     #   1 person liked this

"Afraid I agree, take less or take nothing."

Exactly. Make the public sector's pay and benefits more closely reflect the private sector.

Just one example: me. Not that I'm complaining because I've been lucky enough to remain employed through the current economic mess and am thankful for that. I "celebrate" my 25th anniversary with my current employer this year.

My last salary increase was mid 2008. This year, I'm faced with a $5k annual salary reduction, a week less of paid vacation and my health care deductible increased from $2,500 to $3,000 along with an added coinsurance that increases my potential out of pocket from $2,500 to $5,500. And I'm still thankful for what I have.

So I have very low tolerance for someone employed in the public sector whining about having to pay ANY portion of their health care costs or a co-pay that went from $10 to $20.

posted by Foodie on Feb 24, 2012 at 01:33:08 pm     #   2 people liked this

But why are there those who always want people to take drastic pay cuts, give up benefits, and especially lose their jobs.

With all due respect, regarding the Post Office:

1.) They lost 10 billion dollars last year.
2.) They continue losing money at this rate.
3.) Human resources are the largest cost factor in most any business.

So, in the absence of a Congressional (nee: taxpayer) bailout, how do you solve this without "drastic" workforce reduction, consolidation, and benefit reduction? What is your solution?

Educate us hard-hearted souls.

BTW, a high school education back then was worth considerably more than now. Of course you could get a good paying job--simply by graduating from high school, you were automatically among the top 40% of educated persons in the USA. Not the case anymore.

U.S. Census: A Half-Century Of Learning: Historical Census Statistics On Educational Attainment in the United States, 1940 to 2000: Detailed Tables

In 1950, only 34% of the national population had even a high school diploma...now that percentage is well north of 80%. In 1960, that percentage jumped to 41% A bachelor's degree was even more rare, with only 6% of the population having a university degree in 1950 (now 25%+ have one).

posted by oldhometown on Feb 24, 2012 at 01:45:16 pm     #   1 person liked this

OHT

I agree that a high school education in the 50's was like a BA today. I made more than my husband who was a school teacher. But the times have changed since then.

The PO problem is complex and needs fixing especially by congress.

I just do not see how this country can work it way out of the jobs crisis with simple service type jobs. Of you cannot make a living wage to raise yourself out of poverty it is a pox on this nation.

posted by jackie on Feb 24, 2012 at 04:01:33 pm     #  

Obviously, the Post Office needs to change. The advent of the internet means that far less things are going to be sent via mail. That's just a fact. But two criticisms of the Post Office (and public employees) really irk me:

1) They "lose" money. News flash: so does every other government agency. They aren't designed to make money, they are designed to provide a service. If they had to charge what it costs them to deliver a package, it would cost at least twice what it costs now. Then we would have every little old lady who sends her grandson money for his birthday would be picketing. And don't give me a comparison with FedEx and UPS. They provide a different service. You can't go into FedEx and UPS and ask them to take anything anywhere for less that $10. FedEx and UPS cannot deliver everywhere in the U.S., which is why they use the postal service to deliver about 25% of their parcels.

2) "My pay and vacation and healthcare is going to crap, postal workers and public employees should be experiencing the same thing." Of course, if you ask these people if the public employees should get bonuses and larger raises when the economy recovers, they say no. And instead of saying that public employees should be doing as poorly as private employees, why not instead ask why private employees are doing so bad to begin with? Hint: it isn't because public employees get an annual 2% raise. That has been going on for years, including the boom years of the 90s. It is because big business, courtesy of a paid off government, has slashed pay, exported jobs and seen record profits. Meanwhile, blue collar factory workers and school teachers are at each other's throats, convinced the other one is to blame.

posted by Ace_Face on Feb 24, 2012 at 04:29:31 pm     #  

We'd get a better postal service if they laid off everyone and started over. I do not begrudge anyone their healthcare, benefits, etc. I just think they are unable to deal with modern business realities. In this economy, there are plenty of bright, experienced people looking for work. Hire them (starting at the top) and bring the "business" of delivering mail into the modern era.

For example, I never knew that there was any sort of guarantee or promise that a first-class stamp bought me next-day delivery within certain zones. I had no idea. They have been striving to provide a relatively expensive service for customers who are oblivious. When I need some sort of guaranteed next-day or second-day service, I pay for it, either at the PO or at competitors. That level of service costs a lot and is priced accordingly.

Some years back, we were told to start using an additional four digits on every zip code. I never complied with that request. But I do have relatives who wanted to know what my 4 digits were, and they wanted me to record theirs so our Christmas cards wouldn't go astray. I see that bulk mail comes addressed that way (good for them!) but this is another example of marketing disasters. Why would they think it's smart to add an extra burden to customers, if it turns out to be entirely unnecessary for the home user?

All over the country, we have people operating home businesses built on a combination of internet and cheap mail. Why not play up that important aspect? That's a really valuable service they are performing for America.

Remake all of the post offices so they operate more like fast food outlets. Heavy demand can be predicted. Staffing needs can be scheduled to handle all of the fluctuations caused by seasonal or daily variations in demand. Any good will I feel towards the PO is regularly wiped out by the stupid inefficiencies I have to endure when buying from them in person. It doesn't have to be that way.

end of rant!

posted by viola on Feb 24, 2012 at 05:28:48 pm     #  

Jackie: I just do not see how this country can work it way out of the jobs crisis with simple service type jobs.

----

It can't, which is mostly why I always mention wage cuts being a better alternative to simply laying off employees, who will have zero or minimal income.

I personally believe the American standard of living has bloated at least for a few decades. It was fueled by excessive credit and the advent of both husband and wife working full-time becoming the norm. Unions, kept the party going along for a while, but that merely made the long-term solutions more painful.

After the private unions such as UAW suffered their corrections, the gov't union took the baton. They continued receiving raises, colas, double dips, greater and greater total compensation while other workers were receiving less.

Like it or not, postal workers are overpaid. Everyone with a clue about today's labor market knows it. Who, other than maybe the workers themselves or their family members would pass a lie detector test while stating postal workers work even half-speed all day, every day.

So, I ask have they even mentioned pay cuts for employees to correct their labor costs? Nope...they are simply again raising prices, cutting employees, and providing lower quality service. All of those things are going to further drive people toward alternative delivery methods.

I'd rather see a combination of employee concessions and facility consolidations, without raising prices and lowering delivery standards.

posted by 6th_Floor on Feb 24, 2012 at 05:49:43 pm     #  

" why not instead ask why private employees are doing so bad to begin with?"

In my case, I know why - and it has far more to do with the ever increasing tax burden placed on me and my employer - in large part due to the golden benefits enjoyed by public employees.

I work for a small, non manufacturing business. The only part of our business that may be outsourced are the office supplies we use.

The government and public employee monster is out of control and needs to be reigned in.

And the single biggest difference between me and many public sector employees? I've never looked at my job and benefits as a "right" or something I'm owed. I've always known I have to earn my keep and any merit raises I may have enjoyed over the past years.

And because I've been in a position to see the expenses, taxes (for those that think business pays little to no tax (unless you are GE)- you have no clue and it would boggle your mind to see the tax burden) and where the $$ goes, I understand why salary and benefit reductions are necessary. There's only so much $$ to deal with.

The public side? Hell, just raise taxes to keep covering the ever increasing bloat.

posted by Foodie on Feb 24, 2012 at 06:00:05 pm     #  

20 years after graduation from high school and 2 children later I went to college and got an associate degree in accounting. I understand profit and loss, the costs of payroll with benefits, depreciation and taxes paid. Not only did I work at a non union place but I worked most of my life at non profits which are not covered by unemployment.

I see people on TT as anti-union no matter which one. I see people who seem to be jealous of those who work and have good working conditions. I see people who seem envious of those with benefits. I see people who are against taxes no matter the cause. This forum is not the place for me. So many of you are against anyone and everyone no matter how needy or the cause.

My mother, an immigrant to this country, told me that taxes were the price we paid to live in this marvelous country. I grew up believing that principle and still do.

I believe in the power of the voting booth. If you don't like what is going on vote for change. Mobilize others who feel the way you do and work for change. Look at the Tea Party. I do not agree with them on most issues but the have made their voices heard. So can anyone else.

posted by jackie on Feb 24, 2012 at 09:46:03 pm     #  

Taxes ARE a necessary evil but where do you draw the line as far as what they pay for. I am unemployed right now, should you be taxed at 50% and pay for me to exist? Maybe I would like a free cell phone and maybe transportation. I could always use more food and maybe you could help pay my heating bills. Right now I collect no unemployment, am not on any charity or government assistance, I made just over 1k last year and until I can find something I live with my parents and help around the house. I would like to get a job and get my own place again, but at the rate the economy is going it looks slim right now. Even though I am at the bottom I don't plan on staying here and I don't want any damn bail out from you bleeding heart liberals, with all the strings attached. I sure as hell don't want to feel I owe you a damn thing for helping me out and I don't understand why anyone would want to feel in debt to people with faulty moral compasses.

posted by Linecrosser on Feb 25, 2012 at 12:21:43 am     #  

Ugh...it's such a silly argument to say that people must be "jealous" if they question the fiscal responsibility of overpaying for wages and benefits in an operation like the post office.

I earn a good living. I have good benefits. I am not "jealous" of anyone's job or benefts. Heck, I even get a bit of a raise every year.

However, if my employer were hemorrhaging moneyra, I'd expect one of 2 things to happen: job cuts or some sort of shared sacrifice (ex - across the board wage or hour cuts) to help cut expenses. That would be logical.

(I personally would rather take a cut than to see a bunch of people lose jobs permanently...preferably there would be provisions for wages to return to normal levels when the company returned to prosperity.)

posted by mom2 on Feb 25, 2012 at 12:51:30 am     #   2 people liked this

jackie posted at 08:46:03 PM on Feb 24, 2012:

20 years after graduation from high school and 2 children later I went to college and got an associate degree in accounting. I understand profit and loss, the costs of payroll with benefits, depreciation and taxes paid. Not only did I work at a non union place but I worked most of my life at non profits which are not covered by unemployment.

I see people on TT as anti-union no matter which one. I see people who seem to be jealous of those who work and have good working conditions. I see people who seem envious of those with benefits. I see people who are against taxes no matter the cause. This forum is not the place for me. So many of you are against anyone and everyone no matter how needy or the cause.

My mother, an immigrant to this country, told me that taxes were the price we paid to live in this marvelous country. I grew up believing that principle and still do.

I believe in the power of the voting booth. If you don't like what is going on vote for change. Mobilize others who feel the way you do and work for change. Look at the Tea Party. I do not agree with them on most issues but the have made their voices heard. So can anyone else.

Since when are non-profits not required to maintain unemployment insurance? Sorry that statement makes me question you credentials because I have never been told nonprofits are not covered by unemployment. In fact, I'm currently on the board of one where we budget for such an expense so please explain how one is (legally) not covered?

posted by MrsArcher on Feb 25, 2012 at 01:07:20 am     #  

Many non-profits do NOT pay unemployment insurance as they are exempt. In many cases they were originally exempt from paying social security. Only in the 1970's did that change.

You can question my credentials, my
integrity all you want. I stand on my facts as I worked 25 1/2 years and never once was covered by unemployment insurance. Also as business manager I never once paid into unemployment fund.

posted by jackie on Feb 25, 2012 at 12:43:08 pm     #  

From IRS official web site

Federal Unemployment Tax Act

"An organization that is exempt from income tax under section 501©(3) of the Internal Revenue Code is also exempt from FUTA. This exemption cannot be waived. An organization that is not a section 501©(3) organization is not exempt from paying FUTA tax. Report FUTA taxes on Form 940, Employer's Annual Federal Unemployment Tax Return."

posted by jackie on Feb 25, 2012 at 12:51:28 pm     #  

Jackie: This forum is not the place for me.

Honest people disagree, sometimes.

So, now USPS employees are part of the downtrodden masses?

LOL about being jealous and I find it strange someone would even post that without knowing another's situation. I'm quite pleased with my current lifestyle. I don't see anything to be jealous about, especially about having to move to Columbus or Metro Detroit after Toledo PD&C closes.

The closure list includes many Ohio-based mail processing centers and Lima closed earlier last decade. A few hundred jobs in cities like Canton, Dayton, and Youngstown certainly are bad news.

I'd rather see USPS pay their employees less possibly to keep more people working, without having to reduce provided services. I thought I made that pretty clear. I'd rather see most of the current USPS workers still with a job, at reduced salaries, than fewer USPS workers making huge money, while others are put on the street and unemployed.

The market should dictate wages, not some silly inflexible contract. Inflexibility partly is what has USPS in it's current mess.

So maybe USPS ought to just raise the price of stamps each time they need additional revenue. That's how every business operates, eh? They may as well add a few % cola increase each year to each hourly employee.

Maybe the milkman ought to be brought back into our daily lives. Undoubtedly, with a union card to make sure they are properly annually compensated at nearly 100k for their strenuous work.

posted by 6th_Floor on Feb 25, 2012 at 02:31:58 pm     #  

Thats federal unemployment, not state. States require either premium payments or claim reimbursements. Ohio has a very narrow exemption for extremely small non-profits:

http://jfs.ohio.gov/ouc/uctax/nonp_faq.stm

"Organizations established and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes are considered non-profit organizations if they have been held exempt from income tax under section 501©(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. To obtain this status, you must establish (by copy of a ruling from the Internal Revenue Service) that you have been held exempt from income tax under section 501©(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. However, you may still be subject to the Ohio unemployment compensation law if:

"You employed four or more individuals in some portion of a day in each of twenty different calendar weeks, in either the current or preceding calendar year.

"Such organizations are, however, exempt from paying the federal tax used to pay the administrative costs of the unemployment compensation program."

Maybe you worked in a different state that has/had a broader exemption or you worked decades ago but I've been a CPA/attorney for 20+ years and never heard of a broad exemption and certainly never advised my clients to take advantage of it at the peril of their employees or having an exemption challenged to their detriment.

posted by MrsArcher on Feb 25, 2012 at 02:44:01 pm     #  

╔═╬═╗
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╙─╨───┘

posted by Linecrosser on Feb 25, 2012 at 05:23:27 pm     #  

Mrs. Archer,

I was born, raised and lived in Toledo all my life. I worked here in Toledo. I worked for a 501© and we were exempt from unemployment taxes, state and federal. We also did not pay taxes on any property we owned. We did pay assessments.

The organization I worked for has never paid for unemployment for their employees. I know other people who work in a like situation who are not covered by unemployment insurance either.

By the way I worked at this organization from 1974 and retired at the end of 1999.

Thank you though for your comments.

posted by jackie on Feb 25, 2012 at 06:42:42 pm     #