Postal Pundit Says Postal Unions Will Certainly Blast USPS Efforts To Reduce Labor Costs

From  the Washington Post via PostCom:

The Washington Post recently posted an editorial on the Postal Service regarding the commencement of contract talks between two of the major postal unions and the U.S. Postal Service. The following is a letter to the editor written by Professor Murray Comarow, a long-time student of things postal:

Your editorial [Mail drop, 9-7-10] supporting the Postal Service’s efforts to reduce labor costs, will surely be blasted by the postal unions. William Burris is president of the American Postal Workers Union, the first of the four postal unions to negotiate a new labor contract. He said to delegates at a recent convention: “We can point with pride to the fact that our members were shielded from the tragic effects of layoffs and downsizing.”

The editorial refers to the Postal Service as “company.” It is not. It is, in the words of a July 29, 2010 report from the Congressional Research Service, “a self-supporting government agency that covers its operating costs with revenues generated through the sales of postage and related products and services.” USPS is not supported by taxpayers.

You refer to a “panel” of arbitrators that takes over when these is a management/union impasse. That is technically correct, but one panel member is selected by the union and one by management. The Chairman rules. His unappealable decision directs the distribution of almost 80 percent of postal revenues. To use the FY 2009 figure of $68.1 billion in revenues, that would amount to about $53.5 billion at his sole discretion of an individual who is not accountable to anyone.

No other federal agency, and to my knowledge, no major corporation, is forced by law to entrust most of its revenues to an arbitrator’s notion of fairness. A statute requiring the arbitration to take the service’s finances into account is not a “vital reform.” It’s more a feel-good provision, to which I would not object, but how would it be enforced? A survey of former arbitrators might be fun. “Did you consider the Service’s financial condition when you made your decision?” Response: “Of course. Both parties laid the situation out.”

The favored position of postal unions in respect to health premiums and life insurance is more extreme than the editorial indicates. USPS employees pay 20% of their health care premiums; other feds pay 28 percent. Life insurance is free for USPS employees; other feds pay 33% of the premium. What theory of poublic policy can support this?

The Postal Service may not be doing itself or its customers justice by its negotiating stance. Its chief labor executive, Anthony Vegliante, recently remarked that the last thing the USPS wants is arbitration becuase “then a third party is making decisions for you and your business.” Don’t think for a minute that the unions won’t exploit that. Their members reportedly average more than $80,000 a year in wages and benefits. It will take skill and determination to bring this down, even moderately.

The Postal Board of Governors has never formally recommended legislation that would revoke the arbitration provision, nor have mailers, to my everlasting astonishment. Both should have done so years ago.


21 thoughts on “Postal Pundit Says Postal Unions Will Certainly Blast USPS Efforts To Reduce Labor Costs

  1. I’m a FT clerk with 24 years. My yearly gross is $53000.
    I earn my benefits. I pay into my health and life insurance and gamble my retirement with TSP. How does that add up to $80000?

  2. I love the clerks and letter carriers attempting to compare their salaries with management. Duh, you all ain’t management and apparently are intelligent enough to be in management. You compare your salaries to comparable jobs….like those in the private sector … that’s what the statute says. So it is with the likes of UPS or FEDEx employees. When you do you’d would see you are way ahead of them in terms of salary and benefits and way below in terms of delivery and service, i.e., SNAIL MAIL. You jobs are being eliminated because no one wants to deal with you anymore; either in the PO’s or on the street. The Revolution is coming and you are a part of the bloated guberment problem!!!!!! Always want more and do less!!!!

  3. Just another “feel good” article about the writers uneducated guess at the world of the USPS.I would have expected more from “the Washington Post via PostCom”. If the writers of these OPINIONS took the time to get their facts straight they wouldn’t sound so stupid. And please stop trying to come off as something official. There is nothing official about ignorance of one’s subject matter at hand. I try not to be insulting but stupid is as stupid does to quote the character “Forrest Gump”.

  4. Are you kidding me, are you kidding me? As far as being a “paper boy”, the next time one of our machines brakes down, I’ll call you to fix it. You have no clue what we do in processing centers, or what equipment we have. I’ve got an Associates degree in Robotics, and have spent over 1 year in school being trained and updating my skills in the 10 since I’ve joined the USPS. Comparing my salary to what’s paid in the private sector right now, mine is just a little low. And, if the “self supporting” USPS were allowed to keep the profits for the last 50 years, we wouldn’t be in the position we are in now. Instead, all the excess money went into the General Fund, where it could be spent by Congress. A$$hole.

  5. First of all you know nothing, why don’t you shut the hell up and gather your facts before you open your big mouth! No I’m not a carrier any more and I’m so glad I’m not, they bust their ass everyday! I doubt like hell you ever done it!(CARRIED MAIL) I work inside and see all of the other crap that goes on, and yes I still bust my butt everyday.. Let me guess you must be Management, who couldn’t cut it in craft/or was just to freak-in LAZY and didn’t want to do any work! that’s usually why most go into Management!! Not all, because we do have some (very few) Managers who really think they can do some good and make changes, but the way the system is set up they don’t want change! they want A$$holes in MANAGEMENT!! SO SHUT UP, PAPER BOY!!

  6. That 80% of payroll is in the hands of an arbitrator is incorrect that 80% payroll percentages includes managers and supervisors, executives. The Arbitrator has no say over these clarifications of employees. The reality is the arbitraries do take into account the financial side. The Postal negotiators are real good about showing the arbitrators that there is a limited amount of money to spread between the hourly employees. You make it sound like the arbitrators have always sided with Unions, not true, arbitrators are the ones that gave postal service casual employees, neither party had requested this classification of employees and over the years it has cost both parties in arbitration and award costs. I would suggest you review feed back from union members after an arbitrated award, many were not happy, especially when they were lead to believe they deserved more as the contract discussions began. Neither side likes the results of an arbitrated award but we all have to live with it.

  7. Everyday is an obstacle course, 14 miles, climb 2000 steps a day, fought off 2 dogs today, 90% of you whiners who sit in air conditioned offices could not handle this job. I was an autoworker for 3 yrs, we (carriers) are more skilled and work harder, carriers are like green berets compared to the rest of the post office

  8. Really…I can not believe that this is such a big issue. The postal workers are insane. I am a firm believer in working for a living. Many unions including autoworkers, boilermakers, etc all have a “skill”. Postal carriers are nothing more than a glorified paper boy. To earn the wages and benefits that they get, there should atleast be an obsticle course for them to go thru.

  9. I would like to know what manager/supervisor got 6%, management doesn’t get raises anymore, if they do it’s a couple of percent. If you can tell me where they’re getting raises that big I’ll transfer tomorrow!

  10. I actually pay about $50 a month for my Postal life insurance. And I dump about $450 a month into the TSP, our retirement fund, only to see much of it disappear every time the stock market panics. Yes, we have decent medical, but its not free. Far from it. And when I retire, I will not have enough to live on in southern California, I will have to move to Nevada or somewhere that doesn’t tax you to death on everything like california does.

    When Obama Care comes full on, the private insurers will one by one fold up their tents. So this next Union contract may have good medical benefits remaining in it, but the next one surely will not.

    The benefits are why I took the postal exam and put in for the job. The benefits are the only things keeping people there. If the jobs lose what little appeal they have left, there will be a revolving door of part time people who don’t care if they are still working the job after a few months. This isn’t a good idea for the sanctity of the mails.

  11. I wonder where the witer got his information. Sounds a lot like the republican information channel(aka: Fox News)– a lot of half truths and inuendos. Don’t get me wrong; all so called “News” channels and radio talking heads do the same thing. To me the only thing that keeps the postal service from half way turning into a labor sweat shop is binding arbitration. It keeps those at the top from being to greedy. To bad more capitalist businesses do not have this. It would stop upper level management from running a business into the ground all the while raking in millions of dollars of salaries and bonuses. If that isn’t part of corporate welfare, then send me back to college. That is where I learned about American greed!

  12. Dear Washington Pork. Where do you get those #’s from? Is that from the Republican scare and lie tactics book?

  13. FED EMPLOYEES get dental benifits USPS do not! MY life insurance is not free, FED employees got 3% pay raise 2009 2% raise 2010 Will USPS employees DID NOT!!!!

  14. More Propaganda; which is defined as “repeating an untruth until it is believed by the masses”. Josef Goebells’

  15. Another “Washington Post smear article” full of distortions and outright lies. What a sham this article is. Whatever happened to real, fact based journalism? Thank you, Rupert Murdoch!!! Democracy is dying a slow and painful death thanks to the likes of you.

  16. As a rural carrier, I would love to have the pay and benefits that this article mentions. I think the author of this article should compare craft pay and benefits with what upper and middle management receive.

  17. To T

    The answer is not going to come out. Elephant Plaza does not want that dirty little secret out. Here is another good question. Why since 2006 has the number of craft workers (those that actually handle the mail) been reduced over 20%, yet management ranks increased? Why during last contracts did the craft only recieve raises between 1% to 2%. But management got raised from 6% to 12% with so called “pay for performance”. And Fat Jack Potter and his cronies got 33% raises as well as the Area Managers and District managers. Why doesnt an out side audit (OIG is in bed with the PRC) dig into the truth?

  18. you people seem to have the resources to answer a question for me, you say postal expenses are about 80 percent in labour costs. now can you break that down please how much does all the crafts make combined ,craft consists of carriers ,clerks, mailhandlers etc. compared to what all of management makes. management being supervisors , postmasters up to the postmaster general.. of the 80% in labour cost i would be interested in kown what percent is paid to craft compared to what is paid to management.

    if i make 80000 a year what does the pmg make and what do the vp’s and down to floor supervisors make

  19. what do they mean when they say no downsizing. the postal service has
    figured out a way of doing just that. they call it reasignment or excessing. who wants to live 200 miles from home and then not be sure
    that job is permanent. the contract says the post office will find jobs for light/limited duty employees and they found a way around that and let those people go, embarrassing so. and then the people laughed at them saying they needed to be let go and now the post office is concentrating on the rest of the employees who should be worried because if the post office can find ways around what is in the contract they aren’t safe either no matter how hard they work or how much sick leave they have.

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