February 15, 2015
The U.S. Postal Service’s shift to a lower-paid workforce comes with a steep price. By the agency’s own admission, the hiring of more non-career employees has led to lower productivity, worse service, higher injury and turnover rates, and increased investment in new training programs.
USPS has historically been staffed by long-serving employees, but currently 103,000-plus employees — one of every six active postal workers — has been with the agency less than a year. That’s triple the newbie rate of just four years ago.
In those same four years, despite cost-of-living adjustments and other pay raises for most employees, average base pay for the Postal Service has actually declined 4%.
The lower average pay rate was made possible by what some have called “eat your young” labor contracts – where current union members are well taken care of in exchange for concessions regarding future hires.
For example, USPS has more than 37,000 city carrier assistants, a non-career position that emerged from a 2013 labor contract. Their duties are similar to those of career letter carriers – but without most of the benefits and at barely half the pay.
“We hired over 80,000 non-career employees in FY2014 including PSEs [Postal Support Employees], CCAs [City Carriers Assistants] and MHAs [Mail Handler Assistants],” says the Postal Service’s Annual Report to Congress. “In addition to trying to hire up to our contractual limits of non-careers, we also experienced a high turnover rate (in excess of 40 percent) for CCAs.”
Read more: Dead Tree Edition: USPS Struggles With Wave of New Hires.