Amid Holiday Hiring, Postal Unions Fight for Service Standards
Tuesday, October 4, 2022
The U.S. Postal Service said it is hiring 28,000 seasonal employees ahead of the surge in end-of-year holiday letters and packages, including some in California.
The Postal Service has also added almost 250 new processing machines.
Rick Ruiz, president of the American Postal Workers Union Local 4635 in California, said the union wants more people hired as postal support employees with government benefits.
"They come in at about $19 an hour," Ruiz pointed out. "But the goal is at the end of the two years, you're a career employee with your 401(k), your health benefits, retirement and life insurance; all the benefits that you need as a working person out here in order to buy that house, buy that car, have that vacation."
Ruiz noted employees are vested in the Postal Service, and qualify for retirement after just five years. The Postal Service workforce includes 655,000 people, 100,000 of whom have made the transition from part-time to full-time employment since January of last year.
It all comes against the backdrop of Postmaster Louis DeJoy's 10-year plan, introduced last year, to put the Postal Service on a stronger financial footing.
Ruiz stressed he has reservations because the plan raised postage rates, cut business hours at many post-office locations, and increased the amount of time it takes for mail to be delivered.
"With the 10-year plan, I'm concerned that the service standards will diminish," Ruiz asserted. "I don't think this plan is well-thought-out. I think that they're looking at saving money, which I understand, but you have to be more efficient, in defense of service."
Peter Rachleff, labor historian and co-executive director of the East Side Freedom Library in St. Paul, Minnesota, who follows trends at the Postal Service and other major employers, said in his view, the Postal Service expansion needs to be managed, so it benefits both the agency and its union workers.
"The Gen-X'ers who are organizing realize that there is no such thing as 'the pendulum,' which will swing back in their favor," Rachleff emphasized. "The only way to make a better future for themselves is by organizing and pushing."
People who want to apply for Postal Service jobs can start online, at usps.com/hiring.
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