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November 1997
Vol. 1 No. 2 Page 8

A Rural Carrier's View of an Evaluated Pay System
by Cynda Watroba

The rural delivery craft has recently completed a national mail count. This Tayloristic method of determining compensation is closely akin to the piece-rate system commonly found in factories much earlier in this century in the US, and many third world countries today.

Each piece of mail (with the possible exception of DPS) is physically counted, measured, and assigned a time-value. Acceptable work functions are either timed by a stopwatch, or has a pre-determined value. Data is then recorded for either 12 or 24 working days, depending on contractual mandates. These figures are used to determine the weekly evaluation of each rural route.

Rural carriers are paid on a salary basis, rather than hourly. The present method has been in existence since 1973 when the Postal Service was required to attain compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Pay is determined by the Evaluation

All regular (career) rural carriers are paid at an attained step for the evaluation (determined by the mail count) of their assigned route. No career employees total actual work hours can exceed 2,240 hours in a 12 month period, including Christmas, according to FLSA Sec. 7 (b)(2).

Rural leave replacements (non-career relief employees) are paid at the daily evaluation of the route worked, when the total of actual weekly hours worked are under 40. The provisions of FLSA Sec. 7 (a) mandate 150% of wages at that employees tier (determined by designation code and hire date) for all hours in excess of 40. Salary for career employees has overtime hours built in.

Time studies done years ago

Most daily functions were determined by time studies conducted years ago with the exception of DPS and sector-segmented time standards. Next Column

The total accumulation of time values for the span of the mailcount determine rural employees salaries for a time period that can vary from one to as many as four years, with exceptions for growth or route adjustment.

This may help to explain the strange utterances and high tensions exhibited by some rural craft employees during September.

"Thats not a letter; its a parcel" can be decoded in the following manner: this piece is NOT non-automated, 5 inches or less in height, and less than 3/8 inches thick; it is a rigid article which is 5 and 1/4 inches in height. Those whom have been observed silently mouthing numbers have not descended into dementia; they are counting to determine if they accept the figure allotted to a particular tray of mail or they are checking to see if, indeed, it only takes them 34 seconds to walk to the throwback case, and return.

Consider that when you observe rurals "leaving early" in July -- in January, we may work much in excess of what we are paid by salary. Theoretically, it evens out. That is more true for the salaried career employees than for the leave replacements.

A rural carrier associate working only a Monday in January can be paid at 9 hours of straight time for 13 hours of actual work. Does this make an hourly rate and OT seem more palatable? You decide.

This system does allow greater flexibility in determining ones own daily pace, but within limitations. To those brothers and sisters in the NALC who are considering an evaluated system: Do you need more input? Then ask a rural carrier.

Cynda has been an RCA (Rural Carrier Associate) since 1988, and an NRLCA local steward since 1991 in Batavia, NY. She has also served as Area Steward, local President, District VP, and national NRLCA delegate.

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