USPS Employees are Discounted Everyday

As we get closer to the Postal Service implosion (?) it is also an opportunity to listen to what employees in the trenches have to say about what is going on inside our troubled agency. None of the politicians ever want to hear from the T-shirt wearing people at the bottom of the organization underrepresented and sweating hard on the regular to hold up our “heavyweights.” For the top echelon bosses that’s where we would flip the script and begin to see the suits begin to perspire like we do as “We the people” begin to speak out about a dysfunctional leadership model.

At the September congressional USPS finances and operations hearing with the Postmaster General, panel 1, Senator Jerry Moran commented to the Postmaster General words to the effect that he hopes he was asking his staff at all levels about efficiency knowing that the best and brightest ideas come from employees doing work on the front lines. The average working man or woman in the engine room knows the answer to that thought would be a resounding H E double hockey sticks (LL) NO!

Senator Lieberman’s opening statement mentioned that we would soon run out of money and we would be forced to severely slash employees and service if something isn’t done. In my mail facility ideas are solicited but they are not welcome! The facility manager offers employees an additional questionnaire at time of Voice of the Employee surveys and the vast majority of those who complete it say they don’t get a response.

There is a “computer blog” at the front door to “ask the plant manager” by publicly and transparently submitting comments, ideas, or suggestions to managers. The unfortunate part of the “blog” is that the facility manger rarely if at all closes the accountability loop. That makes his computer with the trackball nothing more than an esthetic prop. Not answering (ignoring) is all part of that top down stinging form of punishment that stirs up anger in the people who feel feedback is the breakfast of champions. Author Bradford Fitch pointed out in his recent book that “the democratic dialogue is the most important conversation humankind ever conceived.”

On the workroom floor there is talk about reducing head count, eliminating bid assignments, an itching sensation by managers to excess employees out of our facilities, and an inconsiderate lack of concern for the continuous disruption to the lives of our workers and their families. All of this is done in our minds just so a number cruncher can look good on paper, probably resulting in some kind of greedy hidden performance incentive. The reality of this rapidly deteriorating style of management is delayed and un-worked mail everywhere. Then postal managers force “overtime” on non-volunteer employees to work 12 hour days (we got a lot of money.) This indicates there is not enough time to do things right, but there is plenty of time and money to spin our wheels longer.

Their random and unprofessional town halls are filled with one-way banter from managers, scary messages of high dollar losses, complaints about not getting bonuses, and bully-like talk intended to disengage employees. These managers have very limited operational knowledge and talk big and hard to compensate for not knowing what they are doing or how to lead.

Managers don’t know how to hold group discussions to engage employees in solving problems on the workroom floor or anywhere else. Employees are expected to “work” but we are not allowed to make any decisions about what we are doing. It’s an environment of shut-up and throw the mail on the belt, throw the mail in the crate, come over here and do this, go over there and do that. In a single day three different managers will want the same operation run three different ways and the sad part is the managers don’t even talk to each other. If a supervisors dares to speak up they will be chastised or labeled a no team player. All of these elements of the current business model are severely unwarranted and have to stop today.

We can survive in the 21st century if we change the employee engagement model while we are in the process of restructuring everything else. We got employees who have much more diverse backgrounds than many of the handpicked managers. We should focus on creating complementary teams and stop with the top-down style autocracy that is surely eating away at the heart of this enterprise. This is the wrong battlefield for a leader with first name Postmaster, and last name General. The value of mail and the physical connection for our universal customers is critical and anyone who talks that talk is preaching to the choir. How we respect our employees will also have a significant impact on how successful we are while we are redesigning a strategy to get us from implosion (self-destruction) to the explosive innovator of mail services in the 21st century. Discounts applied to the workforce envision words like; disregard, overlook, ignore, disbelieve, reduce, and lower. It should never apply to the people we pay to “Deliver.”

Ronald Williams, Jr.

20 Responses to "USPS Employees are Discounted Everyday"

  1. anon   September 19, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    If we lose a few offices it probably shouldn’t be as big of a deal as it will be.The ones that are less than 5 miles apart in rural type areas in the Northeast and Mid Atlantic areas. But we are missing the service point if you go strictly by lack of revenue in places like Montana’,Nebraska.Wyoming,&New Mexico to name a few states. Now, the people in the T shirts like me who do the work & don’t want to wear the tie because I don’t believe in the way they do things! The LAZY become the bosses so they don’t have to work!But now, they work harder than they did as craft employees;sneaking around working machines during employee breaks while no one is looking! However, we see them doing it anyways.

  2. marie   September 20, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Ron, you said it all, brilliantly! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  3. TLee   September 20, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Hello! i have worked for the postal service for over 10 years as a letter carrier. I work my butt off everyday and am pushed to do more in less time. In my 10+ years as a postal employee the financial woes of the USPS can be attributed to ONE THING. There are too many employees collecting paychecks at the USPS that don’t work. These employees that I speak of are anyone that doesn’t ever see or touch a piece of mail on a daily basis. For instance, carriers carry mail, clerks sort mail, mail handlers process mail. These are all legitimate necessary functions at the post office. I think anyone that doesn’t have an actual hand in the”mail” itself needs to explain why they work at the USPS. Lets start with the THREE managers in my post office that are managing 20 employees.

  4. TLee   September 20, 2011 at 7:53 am

    PS. I have one more comment about this. If postmaster Donahoe wants to layoff 220,000 employees, I say, NO PROBLEM. Just be sure to start at the top, not the bottom where all the actual workers are.

  5. shortimer   September 20, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Is the plant described in this article Margaret L Sellers P&DC, San Diego CA by any chance? If it is not, then there is a clone plant somewhere.

  6. Tree   September 20, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Brilliant posting Ron! I have been employed by the postal service for 10+ years myself, and have had more than my share of witnessing the many craft individuals that have proudly sweat to maintain service to our customers. Yet there are the LAZY individuals that choose to “put on a tie” to avoid working in the trenches, in fear that they may break a nail or get a paper cut. Congressman Issa is flaunting his true colors of the politicians’ oath… MY ass and screw everyone else. We have far too many titles or (literal) ACTING titles, too many people being detailed into fluff jobs, and bogus job titles or positions created simply because someone has stroked the right fat cat. We are extremely top heavy in management, and need to focus on who is actually DOING the work.

  7. C Yoong   September 20, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    If postmaster Donahoe wants to layoff 220,000 employees, I agree start at the top, not the bottom where all the actual workers are. Why don’t postmaster and management take a pay cut? Stop giving car, and paying for management housing expense, overpaying fexdex try ups?

  8. tom henrichs   September 20, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Management doesn’t communicate.
    Communication is on a need to know basis and,given that casuals do mailhandlers’ work, mailhandlers need to know nothing.
    Ofcourse supervisors do mailhandlers’ work, whether we’re on break or not. (MDOs
    ocassionly chip in.)

  9. Cheryl Nelson   September 21, 2011 at 8:14 am

    After working 33 years at the same office, I can agree with all of what Ron has said. We had no more than 200 employees at any time, yet we had as many as 8 supervisors. We ran through over 20 PM’s, or acting PM’s during my tenure. Ron, you are also correct in that the people that supervise are usually worthless. Those that WANT to help, and do a good job are not appreciated by upper management. Those supervisors with a HEART/BRAIN….are disciplined and told to WORK HARDER. Because the union represents both good employees (workers) and bad employees (the lazy), we have a two tiered system. Make the cuts from the top…discontinue the cars, allowances, get all the employees off “special assignments” and “details”….ASK THE LITTLE PEOPLE QUESTIONS………….AND LISTEN!!!! We do know more of what’s going on than management!

  10. L. Frick   September 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I worked at the M.L. Sellers plant for 21 years and then transferred to the Portland PD&C. I can tell you that there absolutely NO difference in management; too many managers/supervisors standing around watching the workers and micromanaging them! And all the mail handlers who routinely work 10-12 hour days and brag that they don’t do anything on their OT other than stand around. One SD;O on Tour 1 who was elevated to MD;O was too busy chatting at her desk in a secluded spot with her Mail Handler boyfriend and so was unaware of the OT stand arounds. I was farmed out to a heavy parcel sorting operation every night 2 hours before my shift ended in 010 and the SD:O would walk right by a group of his own 3 male mail handlers who stood around all night talking about sports, and order me to unload OTRs. Then when these men saw me doing the heavy work, they would all scatter to the swing room where they would play cards for 30 minutes. Ron’s article could easily have been written about the Portland PD&C. Until Management changes, the USPS is headed for a steady decline.

    Great article, Ron.

  11. billy d   September 28, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    I worked in the postal service for 37 years and now retired this year 2011. The best summation I have read so far is on this very site now. It is William Burrus; Doomsday Scenerio, his observation I believe is accurate. Read it, maybe those left may learn something from it. Good Luck.

  12. Ricky   October 5, 2011 at 12:35 am


  13. najumaxx   October 6, 2011 at 10:32 am

    we have 3 supervisors with 24 clerks. so post office has money some where. that’s just dumb!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. rick57   November 15, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    I love hearing that those who do not touch the mail are somehow unjustified as if we test and hire ourselves, enter our own employee profile in a computer , print our own badges and create a route that we will assign ourselves to.

    Then I suppose before we go home we can see that our payroll is correct before we process and print our own pay checks/stubs. We can put our own leave into a computer that no one sees and maintain our own benefits.

    Then we can cross train automated clerks as electronic technicians to fix tall the different type of automated equipment the PO owns and rid ourselves of the electronic technicians who do not touch the mail. I suppose these clerks can clean the toilets before they leave for the day and the carriers can take out the trash.

    You can work 12 hours a day without overtime and give up holiday pay, who says they can’t do this? Labor Relations? a union person? I know union people who haven’t touched mail in years, do we get rid of those employees too?

    Instead of having every one who does not touch the mail justify their position maybe we could lay them all off for two weeks and see how you make out.

    I guess you’ll pick up your own mail and case it at your house.

    Here’s an idea, we could save money getting rid of the clothing allowance. judging by my mailman’s uniform he looks like he works for the New England Patriots one day and the Philadelphia Phillies the next.

    Be careful what you wish for.

  15. Kenneth D   December 27, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Some praise for your hard work from Etsy members who rely on your dedication to your work throughout the year.

  16. Patti   December 31, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Perhaps we could hire outside the post office for all jobs that don’t actually handle mail, that sounds reasonable especially since USPS is and has been hiring contract help for actually handling and delivering the mail. I make 50,000. a year and I am required to go to the bathroom outside during all seasons, wrry about farmers, hunters, animals, poison ivy, never have a break during the 4-5 hours of driving, dig myself out of the snow because no one is at he post ofc. to call for help, hurry and try to come in on time so not to put out the post ofc personal, but don’t have an accident or you will be fired, sell all postal products even though you serve 286 families and only have 4 hours to drive your 128 . mile route. That means we have less than a minute to get to and sell. Not paid to put up DPS (machine sorted) mail told to take it to the street and of course it is usually out of order or has lots of out of town mail. We are required to drive minimum of 10 mile deviation for a 1st class piece of mail and pray the clerk or postmaster feels like logging the deviated miles in the log so you might get paid. Only three weeks out of year we are allowed overtime and even though we work from 7:30 to 7:00 we don’t get paid for overtime we are told we dont get to run the route on Fri. so we don’t get overtime, and we are cut the running time that Friday so we are cut in out paycheck prior to Christmas. No Merry Christmas, good job or heres a ham or bonus. Just be happy you have a job.

  17. Jack   January 18, 2012 at 2:15 am

    Amazing that just about every single comment from everyone on this blog knows where or what the problem is but those at the top dont see it. Over the years, I have seen so much waste, it is sickening.

  18. Elf   January 21, 2012 at 10:58 am

    I was told in orientation by Department heads that if lay offs happend it was from the top down and it is writen somewhere but that is not true. Its the new employees who get the ax. I was told in REACT training that the postal service wants you but that is also not true. You are put under a microscope and any “infraction” like asking for help will put you out the door. Then someone up chain who does not know you adds additional words that bad mouth you on your personal notification and one knows who did it. Its catch 22 for someone who wants to work a rural routes.

  19. Jack   January 28, 2012 at 12:27 am

    In 48138 we have a Janitor that has been on detail for over 2 years and does her 1 or 2 weeks back as Janitor to prevent her job from being abolished. She is a secretary to the Poom and is getting mileage. The job is now being done in less than half the time by another Janitor from another office. Why are things like this being ignored? Secretary’s can be hired from a temp agency for less than half of what she is being paid. It amazes me, cut carriers and clerks the ones that keep the Post Office afloat. I wish a news investigative reporter would ask the PO about all the details out there and ask them to justify price increases.

  20. Melissa   February 3, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    I work for USPS at a station and one of my daily duties is to dispatch mail from our facility to the Airport at the end of the day. I used to work at the Airport PEDC and it was my job to receive the dispatch I am currently sending out. I noticed that we only divide our mail by in state and out of state mail. I told my supervisor we could easily and an additional comp that is for our city only because at the plant city mail is worked by hand and everything has to be worked on a conveyor. If city mail is placed on the conveyor someone just waits for it all to fall into a postal pack them walks it over to city. When I hold my supervisor about this idea I was told it is an excellent idea however the engineers who set out system up wouldn’t like it. The next day and engineer was visiting our facility and I told him about my idea and he said it was a great idea however management wants us to work more hours so any expediting of the process could put their bonus at risk.

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